Apologies in advance. This script is prepared drawing far too much from my memory rather than actual records. If you find a conflict between what is reported herein, vs. reports published in the ATF Newsletter, be assured the Newsletter report is the most accurate. Stan Nelson and Greg Walters also have reviewed this text, but they, too, have been operating from memory rather than from notes or other references.
Conference Dates & Places
Hosted by Lynda & Rich Hopkins
Essentially this was a meeting where individuals got to meet each other and got to know what each was doing in regard to typecasting. Over 30 people were present including Herb Czarnowski, vice president of Baltotype (recently closed). Paul Duensing demonstrated matrix engraving. Stan Nelson demonstrated casting with the hand mold, Dave Norton spoke on his effort to catalog nineteenth-century type designs, and Pat Taylor gave many details on where and how to acquire typecasting equipment.
A bonus was the bringing to the meeting of a pivotal caster by Pat Taylor (it came from Ben Lieberman)—in pieces strapped to the top of his sub-compact car. He and Andy Soulé were successful at setting up the machine in Rich’s garage and successfully cast 30 pt. Cheltenham Bold souvenirs for all Conference attendees.
Hosted by Pat Taylor
The meeting featured open house at Out of Sorts Type Foundry, and a lengthy trip to Elizabeth, N. J., and a tour of American Type Founders, and a nice visit to the A. Colish Press, quality printers, who had a large and active Monotype department. David Belfort attended representing British Monotype, and had a comical confrontation with Richard Shaw, regarding techniques for repairing a type carrier (Belfort failed in his attempt to out-perform Shaw. Mike Parker, head of type design for Mergenthaler Linotype, gave the keynote address.)
Hosted by Stan Nelson and Harold Berliner
This was a stellar meeting in conjunction with the British Printing Historical Society, featuring Oxford University Press, a monumental tour to British Monotype’s factory at Salfords, where we were treated to a nice luncheon in the sumptuous board of directors room, and a review of the company’s history by John Dreyfus. We also took a trip to London for a tour of St. Bride’s and other museums. The initial “get acquainted” meeting was tenuous until Guy Botterill broke the ice showing his infamous “cards” to BPHS members. The event was at the student union which featured cool (almost warm) beer for the Americans. Numerous luminaries were in attendance including type designer Berthold Wolpe.
Hosted by Stan Nelson & the Smithsonian Institution
This was a marvelous meeting which featured an after-hours, behind-the-barriers tour of the marvelous exhibit of printing history then on exhibit at the Smithsonian. We got to play with the Blower Linotype, and study up-close the first Monotype Composition Caster, among many, many other things. Stan arranged a fun- and information-filled program for all in attendance. We also took a trip to the Library of Congress, and to the National Archives Building. R. Hunter Middleton, longtime type designer for the Ludlow company, was among those participating in our meeting.
Hosted by David Churchman
Highlights? Visits to Churchman’s Boutique de Junque and (Dave) Peat’s Press. Paul Duensing and Rich Hopkins helped put together a program amongst other last-minute preparations. Charlene Churchman did a marvelous job of coordinating food services at the Boutique and elsewhere. A most memorable feature of the meeting was a massive rain and thunderstorm which tried to wash out our afternoon picnic and gathering at the Boutique. With great effort, Pat Taylor, Bill Riess (Quaker City Type), Jim Walczak, and others pieced together a Thompson caster from three “parts” machines at the Boutique. They successfully cast a keepsake ornament and other items, but Dave Churchman’s gravity-fed mold cooling contraption was a dismal failure. Bob Halbert carried forth with instruction on the Supercaster, while all marveled and explored amongst the many treasures at the Boutique. If memory serves properly, we took a field trim to the Indianapolis Electrotyping Company.
Hosted by Lynda & Rich Hopkins
This, perhaps, was the first conference which was accompanied by technical sessions and Harry Wearn, just retired as head of the Monotype School in England (having served over 40 years with British Monotype), was with us and gave an excellent program of instruction on both the Composition Caster and the Supercaster.
Hosted by Harold Berliner
What a charming community, a marvelous backdrop for many hours at Harold’s extremely well equipped typefoundry and printing shop, with Harold being assisted by Scott Holt, who worked at the typefoundry. Harold had two representatives in attendance from British Monotype: Duncan Avery and Harry Wearn, and Gertraude Benoehr of the Gutenberg Museum at Mainz, Germany. Harold arranged an excellent program coupled with technical sessions. The meeting was punctuated by great surroundings with all lecture sessions staged in the local historic theater. After the conference Harry Wearn stayed in the USA for the next several weeks making prearranged visits to several ATF member plants, where he shared generously with his wealth of practical knowledge of the equipment.
Hosted by Willie Parker, Dale Dippre, and Pete Stinley
Of course the setting for this meeting was Colonial Williamsburg and featured its on-going program of period printing, papermaking and bookbinding. At that time CW was aiming to get its own type-making facilities into operation and many hours were spent by members of our group, working with Thompson and other casting equipment on hand at CW. A marvelous swap meet was held in a park area adjacent to our motel facilities and if nothing else, the 100+ degree heat of the day was most memorable.
Hosted by Mark Barbour and the International Printing Museum
This was a hail and farewell meeting in the museum’s spacious and well-organized facility. Word had just been received saying highway expansion was going to take and demolish the facility, and the museum was facing an unknown future. Ernie Lindner, founder of the museum, was on hand and delivered a passionate recollection of his exploits with special emphasis on Linotypes (which was his commercial business). All facilities (conference, food, leisure) were within the building and we all had ample time to circulate among the many hot-metal “relics” on hand, including an operational Thompson, Linotype A-P-L, a Typograph, and many other items.
Hosted by Pat Taylor and Rick Newell
Heritage Printers, a firm which had continued the hot-metal tradition for many, many years, was firmly committed to continuing the craft and still retained a listing of academic journals routinely produced in the plant. Rick Newell was in charge of the entire facility, with deference to Pat Taylor, who lent his expertise (and much of his own equipment) to the Monotype department. Several lincasters were on line, backed by a floor filled with galley stands housing numerous standing book projects. Monotype equipment included English comp machines, keyboards, and a Thompson caster, all hot and in operating condition. Eckehart Schumacher-Gebler from Dresden, Germany, was guest of honor, who had put together a stupendous museum facility at Leipzig, Germany, following German reunification. His after-banquet speech projected well his great enthusiasm for the craft and all its marvelous history.
Hosted by Frederica & Monroe Postman
Monroe and Frederica put together a great meeting, which was accentuated by a group trip to M&H Type in downtown San Francisco. Working with the staff at M&H, Monroe had developed a computer interface for the comp caster, loosely resembling the work of Harry Macintosh of Edinburgh, Scotland, who also was on hand and demonstrated operation of his own equipment. The trip to M&H was a marvelous experience where many of us first met Lew Mitchell, long-time employee of the firm, who managed to have two or three machines operating simultaneously, while also giving close attention to all of us and our many questions. We also met Andrew Hoyem proprietor of M&H and the Arion Press
Hosted by Julia Ferrari, Dan Carr, and John Kristensen
Terra Alta was had been a startling introduction to small-town, rural America, but the ancient lakeside hotel and quaint facilities at Rindge gave Terra Alta good run for the money. Highlight of the meeting was the opportunity to visit Dan and Julia’s marvelously well-equipped typefoundry and printing shop. Jerry Drayton, who had instructed Julia at the Monotype School in England, was on hand for technical sessions and mingled with us throughout the meeting. There was strong emphasis on keyboarding, but it certainly did not overshadow Dan’s demonstration of hand-engraving matrices, as well as operation of the Composition Caster and the Supercaster.
Hosted by Rob Buchert, Thom Hinckley, and Lou Crandall
This conference revolved around the Crandall Historical Printing Museum, founded by Lou Crandall, and aggressively promoted as a teaching tool in the study of historical documents including the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the U. S. Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. Participants were exposed to intense research conducted by Thom Hinckley and Steve Pratt attempting to prove (or disprove) speculation that Gutenberg used sand casting to create his types. (They concluded it wasn’t practical.) Several ATF members worked with Rob Buckert in attempting to bring on-line the Composition Caster at the museum and side trips were made to the Pratt Wagon Works where Steve and his son were deeply involved in building reproductions of historic iron printing presses.
Hosted by Lynda & Rich Hopkins
This third trip to Terra Alta was a stop-gap measure brought about by the withdrawal of the offer by the Leipzig Printing Museum to hold a Conference there. Eckerhart Schumacher-Gebler was to have been our host, but extreme complications at the museum forced him to cancel plans. Lynda and Rich put together a well-attended stop-gap meeting which, among other things, featured Jim Rimmer, who came from Vancouver, Canada, to share his many talents in type design, type casting, design, printing and binding.
Hosted by Mark Barbour and the International Printing Museum
This trip to Carson, California, gave ATF members a close look at the new quarters for the International Printing Museum and once again our group was exposed to great presentations and close exposure to historic equipment. We were especially impressed with Bill Berkuta, a talented volunteer at the museum, who had mastered running the Thompson, and other pieces of equipment. Mark Barbour has overseen a dramatic recovery of the Museum which, now owning its own building, has a splendid and more secure future ahead.
Hosted by Sky and Johanna Shipley
Very adverse weather conditions complicated plans for this meeting, but Sky and Johanna were not to be denied this wonderful opportunity to showcase the Skyline Type Foundry and their home in this rural Illinois location. Sky demonstrated not only his great ability to handle the Thompson, but his skills at rebuilding the machines, as well as other devices at his foundry. He even had a Linotype which he was threatening to renovate at a future date. High water and flooding conditions were overcome by alternate routes, and the meeting came off beautifully. A special guest to this meeting was Karl Rathgeb, whose career began with German and Swiss type foundries, transferred first to Canada and then to the USA, where he was first a student at the Monotype School in Philadelphia, and then progressed through the complex and diverse stages of photocomposition. He had with him a variety of typefounding tools he retained from his early apprenticeships in Europe.
Hosted by Greg Walters
Greg made a brilliant moveby renting facilities within an aging shopping mall, which served extremely well for the conference. As never before, Greg presented a marvelous show of working equipment at his wonderful “building” not far away. Those items included the Thompson, the Giant Caster, the Composition Caster, a Monotype Sorts Caster, a Ludlow, an Inertype, an Elrod, and a Küco foundry caster (a very short demonstration without water). Various members of our group remained with and continued to operate all these machines throughout the Saturday session. During the entire conference an electrolytic bath was growing matrices, which was fully explained by Greg. Theo Rehak of the Dale Guild Type Foundry was the banquet speaker.
Hosted by Rebecca Gilbert, Jeff Shay, and Others
Portland is a hot-bed of letterpress activity and the active group running the C. C. Stern Type Foundry served as hosts for a splendidly organized meeting which featured numerous talks and plenty of time at the nicely setup foundry. Much work was done on the various machines by ATF associates participating in the conference. Linotype, Thompson, Monotype Comp and Monotype Sorts machines all were featured. A great side trip featured a visit to Stumptown Printers, where we saw demonstrated the best of letterpress along with other processes
Hosted by Frank Romano & the Printing Museum
Nothing short of “a royal treatment” could suffice to describe this meeting. Frank Romano knows how to throw a party! Of course we spent much time at the Printing Museum and though facilities seemed to be more than adequate, we heard of the need to move the museum. Some true gems of printing history were on display and the museum also featured a “yard sale” of excess equipment. Some sessions also were held at Frank’s personal library located adjacent to the host hotel. We were overwhelmed at the variety and completeness of his holdings both of books and literature, and sample machines, tools and implements from the early cold type industry, and hot metal as well. There’s no way anyone could top the wonderful meals and the main banquet, all put together by Frank Romano.
Hosted by Richard Kegler, Winnie & Mike Bixler, and Many Helpers
Richard Kegler, director of the Book Arts Center at Wells College, Aurora, N. Y., put this meeting together for us. Lecture sessions were at the college and we also had opportunity to visit the Book Arts Center there. The conference featured the legendary typefoundry and printing shop of Winnie and Mike Bixler at Skaneateles. We spent ample time with the Bixlers and their marvelous facilities and had meals there too. The “home” hotel was at Auburn, N. Y., and side trips also went to Rochester to visit the Cary Library at Rochester Institute of Technology, and also to Virgin Wood Type at Rochester. We did a lot of “running around” but the beauty and tranquility of Finger Lakes region of New York made it all worth it. Some ATF-ers even took a dip in the lake at Aurora!
Hosted by Brian Ferrett and the Staff at M&H Type
This meeting gave ATF participants an excellent opportunity to spend quality time at the legendary M&H Type operation as well as Arion Press, which in 2001 had moved into excellent new facilities at El Presidio in San Francisco. Plenty of time was allowed for us to linger in the facility, which had been moved in its entirety by the staff from its former location downtown. Highlight of the meeting was the presence of Lew Mitchell, who had served with the foundry for over sixty years. His knowledge of everything in the facility was encyclopaedic. We were allowed to linger in the spacious foundry area where several machines were “hot” and freely demonstrated. We were in awe of their massive matrix “vault,” and also spent time in the pressroom and bindery. Lecture sessions, as well as the traditional banquet all were held within this marvelous facility.
Hosted by David MacMillan, Sara and Ky Wrzesinski
In March plans were materializing and the hosts were getting their respective typecasting/printing facilities ready for staging a conference in late July. Then the Covid-19 Pandemic took hold of the world. At first it was hoped that the meeting could proceed as planned, but that quickly fell apart as lockdowns were mandated and travel restrictions imposed. The meeting was cancelled, but hope lingers that after the pandemic fades into our very unpleasant memory, our group can once again get together and ponder our passion for typecasting and all its related letterpress endeavors.