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Establishing a Private Press

Looking at the ‘PORTAPRINT’ model 5 Circa 1948
Print area 5”X3”

Anyone who likes printing from rubber stamps would like this simple printing device.

The outfit is well made and fits neatly into a tough cardboard box with a clever lift up and fold down front panel. The machine, as it is referred to in the instruction sheet consists of a curved piece of wood to which is glued a strip of red rubber. Over this is placed a thick felt pad which is held in place by a fabric gauze. The construction is identical to that of a rubber stamp pad.

The pigment is held in suspension by a transparent vehicle which is designed to spread first thus preserving a crisp letter image. Using the wrong ink will result in a fuzzy mess.

Gestetner products were adapted without too much trouble and the large stencils were cut into four parts. I found it was possible to make up to 80 impressions before having to brush on more ink.

Here then is an example of early technology for persons who would like to construct for themselves an inexpensive press that has no moving parts yet produces neat typography together with free hand illustration in one pass. And there is no clean up afterwards.

In Search of Style

With my engineer’s punches I stamped a type high block of lead with the words “ODD VOLUMES QUEER AND QUAINT MADE AT THE HAND PRINT PRESS.” The impression formed a solid black background with some of the letters facing backward. You see I have a compulsion to design a book not on the traditional principles of architecture but those of the heavy machine. The book in my mind is for looking at, not reading. I want it to be as heavy and black as old cast iron and bewildering like the insides of my Linotype.

For 20 years I have worked throughout the world as a mechanic on heavy equipment suffering nausea, nightshift, cold and grime. Many times I have tried to start a journal but the lines of the written words seemed all too thin for the way I felt. On I went, trying this nib and that ink, it was a great moment when I discovered rubberstamps for they possessed the weight and solid colours I longed for. Today letterpress takes up all my time (and all my wages) but I am happy, happy to have found a way to express myself.

In olden times it was quite appropriate for the penman to add to the tail piece a sentiment, often in colour.

Depart then satisfied, for he also who releases thee is satisfied.

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The ‘HAND PRINT’ Private Press
John Setek
Paradiso Point
Qld. 4216 Australia

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