Letterpress printing involves the actual setting, inking, and impressing of pieces of type in a printing press—creating an artisanal print a world away from the quotidian office inkjet.
The University of Wisconsin Libraries acquired Silver Buckle Press from the estate of Robert Shaftoe, an art director at the Ford Company and printing hobbyist, in the early 1970s. According to its director Tracy Honn, one of the most important things about Silver Buckle is that its holdings are “not behind glass.” Its mission, she said, is to be a demonstration and education lab.
Silver Buckle Press Today
Rather than collecting dust, Silver Buckle collects fans. For students and scholars in departments like English and art, Silver Buckle Press is, well, the gold standard.
Katie Garth, a graphic design student, is the current Printing Assistant. “On a typical day, I might distribute type, assist in print production, perform research for upcoming projects, or help Tracy prepare for tours and other visitors,” she said. “My understanding of letterpress printing was initially informed by my study of graphic design, which led me to take an interest in book arts and printmaking.” Also, she found the draw of “set[ting] type away from the screen and combin[ing] the design process with fine art printmaking” hard to resist.
But how to determine the Press’ pièce de résistance?
|Chicago hand press|
Visit Silver Buckle Press for more information about the press, its history, and current activities. To view rare historic materials, visit the Silver Buckle Press Collection in the UW Digital Collections.
Images courtesy of Silver Buckle Press.