Yes, ladies and gentleman, another book press has arrived at the Lake Michigan Book Press studio.
Before you ask, no, this was not a 'planned' addition. She was a surprise.
Now, I love making these posts because there's always something a bit interesting to share about these antiques. And I'm going to ramble for a bit but stay with me here. You see, I was at home minding my own business when an email popped in from my co-worker, Katie, at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center. She mentioned a man in the UP (upper peninsula of Michigan) called and had a book press he was selling; he planned to be in Kalamazoo the next week if KBAC were interested. Katie sent along his info because, well, KBAC is doing pretty well in the book press department at the moment.
Me? I was on the fence. LMBP just acquired this Aamel book press contraption not even 6 weeks prior and with the slow season beginning the purchasing coffers were already running low. I gave the guy a call to do some tire kicking. Except he didn't answer so I left a message. Didn't hear back which was okay because my hopes weren't up anyway.
Eventually he did call back. Get this, the book press was not some barn find, or something he picked up at an estate sale. This press had been in his family for over half a century - it belonged to his father, Byron Lee Haines, who used it to bind his 1,030 page Harvard dissertation! Check it out below, along with another one of his books. Understandably, he was vetting buyers to make sure whoever bought this press wasn't going to turn it into a lamp.
Aside from the interesting history, the price of the press was unbeatable...and the size - well, the size of the plate was what I had originally been looking for before settling for the Aamel! It was meant to be. This press belonged at LMBP.
So, money changed hands -- and now this very heavy press, with a bit of surface rust, sat on a swivel chair in the studio. I quickly went to work with fine steel wool, scrubbing away the rust and in the process removing black paint. I noticed some gold detailing on the front/shoulder of the press and paused to appreciate it, but the scrolling was surrounded by more rust; much as it pained me, I scrubbed away at it...but the gold didn't disappear, instead more of it was revealed! Along with the original red paint!
Sweating, I sat down at my desk and admired this beautiful, large, rounded press across the room. There was this strange familiarity...but why? It hit me. The Fairbanks advertisement! What Fairbanks advertisement? Well, the one I geeked out over and purchased when researching the difference between copying presses and book presses! The decorative scrolling gave it away. You're looking at the Model E Fairbanks Copying Press, found in the 1906 Fairbanks catalog for the original price of $14.40 (~$360 today).
Isn't it crazy how this has come full-circle? Of all the book presses out there, the very one in this random advertisement showed up in the studio just six months later.