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Letterpress Shop on Main Brings Back a Printing Tradition

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Thursday, June 24, 2010, at 04:59PM
IMG_5722 Ed Fuentes

"Bring Something to the Party" Chandler & Price company letterpress.

Delicate wedding invitations and stationary line the walls of Bring Something to The Party, the print shop that owner Annette Turner just opened on Main street, north of 7th.

In an age of high-technology, the shop's centerpiece is a hulk of decidedly low-tech machinery from the late 1800's.

It’s a Chandler & Price letterpress, a jobber. The class of machines was a mainstay of printing until the 1950s, as offset began to take over the market. Today, though, it looks like a piece that belongs as part of the decor up the street at The Edison.

Turner has other plans. She opened Bring Something to The Party two weeks ago, on Art Walk night, and is putting the letterpress back to work after it was stored a warehouse for decades.

“I saw the storefront online and came down to look at the neighborhood. I fell in love with everything going on down here,” she explains.

Turner, who has a degree in merchandising from FIDM, had a shop for six years in Santa Monica. She noted that her competitors were busier than she was, and started to investigate. “I saw a press machine in the back of a store and a light turned on,’ she says. “Next thing I knew, I was taking a class how to press at Otis.”

A friend heard about her classes and invited her over. “He took me down to a warehouse on Alameda,” she recalls. “There was this letter press from the 1800's sitting there.”

“It looked a lot smaller until I got to my boutique in Santa Monica. There I worked with it for a year learning the craft.”

It was in 1881 that Illinois banker Harrison T. Chandler was negotiating to buy an interest in the Cleveland Type Foundry. He met William H. Price, son of a builder of printing presses and together they founded Chandler & Price Co. of Cleveland. Introduced in 1884, the Chandler & Price line was patterned after the Gordon’s Franklin “old style” jobbing press.

The jobber now in the shop on Main has a metal plate soldered on with the date “APRIL 12 87."

Next to it is a desk where two part-time graphic designers prepare files that are then sent to Chicago for plates. It’s the texture of print on paper that gives letterpress a formal, intimate feel. Turner plans to have workshops for those interested in learning more about the process.

It was the neighborhood's history and creative vibe that attracted her to Downtown, but Turner's old press definitely brings something to the party.

Bring Something to the Party / 111 W. 7th, Suite R8 (on Main St, three doors north of 7th) / 213.239.0057

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