All Things Wireless & Letterpress

All Things Wireless & Letterpress

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

"A Pocket Caroler" : The Making of my Latest Chapbook Project.

Order details are posted at the end of this installment. 


The Genesis of this three year project began more then five years ago when my wife and I was in charge of our Church's College and Young Adult department.  It was discovered that many if not most of our kids simply did not know the traditional Christmas Carols that we would try to lead them in during our Tuesday Nite get togethers during the Holiday Season.  Most would scurry to their cell phones or tablets to Google the lyrics.  I began to envision a small booklet like this just for our kids.  I would just run 'em off on my computer printer.  I went as far as making a few lyric sheets just for us ten or fifteen gathered people... scarcely enough to warrant a booklet.
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It wasn't until I joined a few printing groups that I learnt about the "Chapbook" and became fascinated with letterpress publication that I began to consider actually using the presses at my own shop "Paper Wren Press", which is a 19th century-modeled printery which normally printed stationery, wedding announcements and business cards with the typical spongy paper and deep impressions.  I was never entirely comfortable  using my presses for this purpose, those big Iron Horses were designed for words, for publications, for page-production work!  But alas!  The "Letterpress Revival" was married to printing deeply impressed images upon thick, unsized, spongy card stock.  And if my letterpress shop were to earn its keep, I had to print what people wanted, and toe the line with the public's expectations of "Letterpress".
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All the while, I found myself deeply engrossed with 17th and 18th century books.  I had collected these books since Junior High School, and in the process, fell in love with the ancient way of doing things.  The very simple and straight forward approach the old Devil's Tail printers used was very appealing to me!  And although I did not have a wooden English "Common Press" like Ben Franklin's or Sellers & Sellers or Kristof Sauer, and while I did  not have enough metal type to even consider book printing, I did have good plate makers that could make nice dies not unlike what was used in the mid 19th century.
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At one point I joined the 18th Century Parsons group, and discovered it was created and run by James Moore, a bookbinder par excellence that specialized in 18th century era Bible reproductions with absolutely authentic, eye popping leather binding.  Right out of the era I so loved.  I began to think that maybe I, too, could contribute something to this group with my own ancient machines.
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And thus the two ideas began to emerge.  A Chapbook, printed following the protocol and methods of the 18th century, containing... Christmas Carols!  
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Why not? It seems a whole generation is growing up with little or no contact with these wonderful songs.  And to make it 18th century-ish would add that historical bit of awesomeness. 
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So I began my research in 2013 after a serious, life threatening bout with major surgery.  What would such a book look like if printed in 1769?  After doing a lot of Googling and web-tracking, Library visiting, and talking with other printers around the U.S. and the U.K., I discovered very... very little.  
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Finally I contacted Colonial Williamsburg.  They seem always to have "A Colonial Christmas" theme during the Holidays, heck, they even published a book by that title!  They must have some ideas I could use!   So, calling the foundation, I was referred to one of the historians.  I'll never forget his response to my initial query as to the purpose of my call.
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"Oh.... That.....!"
"W-what do you mean 'Oh, That!'? I responded.
"That, sir, is a fiction." was the response.
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He then went on to relate that "A Colonial Christmas" was mainly a venue to showcase Colonial events in one place at one time.  No, on Christmas they didn't chase a greased pig, they didn't go around caroling, they didn't hold sumptuous parties, they didn't deck the halls.  In fact, in most of the Colonies at the time, Christmas revelries, public celebrations, caroling and such were, if not outright banned, certainly discouraged.  There were Christmas services at Bruton Parrish, to be sure.  There is a record of a private party being held at a residence in Williamsburg one Christmas, the songs they sang were from a contemporary operetta performed in London, the lyrics having been published in the Gentlemans Quarterly.   Only the Germans, especially in Pennsylvania, celebrated Christmas anything like publicly.  In Great Britain, London even had to pass a ban on street caroling because roaming drunken bands were literally demanding money for their "caroling" at the door step of the residents of that good City, and were known to burst in and ransack the home if the residents refused!
"Now bring us some Figgy Pudding, and bring it right here!  We won't go until we got some!"
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"Sir", the historian continued, "what you have pictured in your mind is more of a "Dickensian" Christmas of the early to mid Victorian era." - which made perfect sense.  And indeed, I do get a lot of my "historic Christmas" imagery from "A Christmas Carol"... and, of course, my German family.  I did live in Bavaria growing up, so I familiar with many of the ancient 16th and 17th Weihnachten traditions, and I do know that Germans did make a big deal out of Christmas, with the Christkindlemarkts and the Weihnachtsfests,  and especially what goes on at  Oberammergau every ten years, with their passion play dating back over 500 years!
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And so the idea of a Colonial Caroler of actual historic significance evaporated, to be replaced by a "Dickensian" version.  And it was probably for the better.  My presses are, after all, of the Victorian era (1869 in design.  Specifically, the Gordon Franklin design.)
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I did opt to stay with my beloved 18th century Caslon fonts, although it had passed from prominence in the printing world about the time the "tall 's' " fell from use.  (That's the 's' that looks like an 'f'.)  I chose, however, to at least keep the cover page entirely 18th century.  I love 18th century title pages, both boxed and unboxed (bordered and unbordered).  I love the use of the tall-s.  I love the courtesy of the 18th century book, making the last word of the page the beginning word of the following page so the reader won't lose the thread of thought.  How courteous!  To me, the most reader friendly books are the books of the 18th century.  And the most enduring.
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As such, I compromised.  The Title Page is indeed modeled after a typical frontspiece of 1760.  The rest of the book thereafter.... is 1850.  
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Designing the Chapbook

I found a wonderful digital font that was a dead ringer for Caslon No. 337 Old Style that even included archaic ligatures (two letter joined together as one piece of type) and the tall-s.  It's called "Wylde", and kerns very nicely.  In fact, it is used interchangeably in this book. I also found the formal blackletter digital font "Cloister" to be not only a dead ringer for the font used in my 1685 copy of "Visions of Government" (Edward Petit), but it also duplicates my metal Cloister fonts (ATF, 1890) as well.  Again, used interchangeably with no perceptible difference.  These digital fonts were used to create printing dies that put me well ahead of schedule  time-wise and cost wise.  The other option was to order several metal fonts from M&H to suppliment what I already had, a several hundred dollar proposition I simply had no budget for.
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The paper I chose for the Caroler is the same type used by many reproduction binders for their 18th century work, Neenah Classic Laid, natural white.  It shows "lay lines" not unlike the original laid printing papers commonly used in prior centuries... and better fit my budget. I wanted the final price of these chapbooks to be within reach of most folks whom I felt might wish to have such a Caroler.
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All told, most of the pages are digitally designed and polymer plated.  Only the Colophon is handset. I thought this to be a good blend of more modern and traditional technologies.
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Printing the Chapbook (the trials and tribulations of the Printery)
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This is my very first foray into book publication.  I have printed Hornbooks, but not bound page books.  Even a relatively small booklet like a single signature Chapbook can be a fearsome challenge to behold!  Though there are only twelve carols in the Caroler, this book contains the binding equivalent of a 48-face-page book!  While the actual press printing itself might take days... possibly stretching into weeks, the rest of the process, the trimming, folding, collating, stitching, gluing, and time in the nipping press to set may take months.... even into the next year! 
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2015 marks the starting year of the Pocket Caroler project.  It was when I placed my first ideas  on a vector drawing board.  The completion of the design was finalized in 2016.  But at that time I could only go with metal dies.  While less expensive than ordering more metal type fonts, it was still a hefty cost package.  Coinciding, we were facing a possible home foreclosure at the time, so work had to stop.  In fact, as the next year drew to a close, I had already closed the Paper Wren as a business, and began to post much of my equipment for sale.  We were in bail-out mode.  It looked like by 2018, the Paper Wren, along with the house and possibly my vintage amateur radio station WD4NKA would be history.
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Ultimately we did find refinancing, and the Paper Wren was saved, but so only as a hobby, no longer a registered business.  Nonetheless I had the presses!  Then, another thing happened: the sale of some items made it possible for me to purchase a Boxcar Base, which enabled me to use Polymer dies on my older Chandler & Price letterpress!  While the base was pretty expensive, the polymer dies used with it are not!  And so, "A Pocket Caroler" was again on the drawing board!
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By spring I received the dies I needed for printing and had enough matching type to handset the Colophon.  I was able to order the Neenah Classic Laid from Amazon, and the Cover stock from French Paper Co.  Money was tight, and I had to charge a bit for materials, but the gears were finally turning and things were happening!  And so by the start of summer, the press was inked, the paper cut, and the process of actually making a Chapbook began!
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The photo above shows my handy mock up, which I used to help me avoid confusion as to which page backed which page.  It also served as a centering guide.  The mock-up was printed on my computer printer, exact size and colours. The mock-up is resting on pre-cut waste paper used for set-up and registration, which in turn is resting on 250 sheets of French Paper cover stock, which in turn is resting on the page stock, numbered for each leaf.  .  I dreaded mixing up those pages because  I could not buy more stock.  This was it, it had to go through the first time!  It was a scary proposition but I did have some old books on the subject that were immensely helpful.  Also helping me in the form of advice over the phone was Emily Hancock, of St. Brigid Press, who served as my long-distance encourager and mentor in this endeavor.  Thank you ever so much, Emily!  Also, to you Carl Nudi, from TBAS!  You were the one that helped me make up my mind as to which binding method I should use.
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No printer is an island.
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The cover is printed in two stages.  The border chosen was inspired by the work of the Roycrofters, of East Aurora NY and dates to 1900.  It is a beautiful interlaced leaf pattern.  The center design would be printed in black.  There was a design up my sleeve that always captured my imagination, and served to inspire the one and only illustration this chapbook has.
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Yup.  A Christmas Seal. Nothing speaks Christmas in the English Speaking world than three gents hauling in the Yule Log, blowing a celebratory trumpet.  Hmm.... maybe they did get loud celebrating Christmas in the year 1200!  That might be fun to research.
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 I redrew the design by hand, then edited pixel by pixel in, believe it or not, Microsoft Paint!  Old as that program is, when it comes to single colour raster editing, it is still my go to for fine editing of images.  It came out very nicely, I thought.  Now, to be absolutely authentic, I might could have engraved it on end grain boxwood.... but again, cost.  Time and cost.  You might guess why a book might cost a month or even several months earnings the prior centuries.  As it was, editing this image took about as it would have to actually do a woodcut.  But.... I didn't have to buy any specially prepared wood!  
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I try to keep my eye on the final selling price.  I did not want to go over the twenty dollar per-book mark.  This book is, yes, collectible, but it's goal is to be utilitarian.  I want folks to actually use it, not merely add it to their collection under glass.  Which is why I both hand stitched the text block and used an end-sheet glued cover technique.
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I had to include a shot of my trusty 1908 28" Craftsman Guillotine cutter.  This is the most valuable machine in my shop, aside from the presses themselves!  No printery can long sustain without a means of a good paper cutter.  Especially if you are doing publishing, even on a small scale!  This old gal even has safety features that would amaze OSHA today!  Like magnetic lock-out, a stock feature cast into the iron of the blade-head.  In this shot, I am cutting the cover stock.
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Assembling the Chapbook
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Along with never having actually printed a book of any kind before, neither have I collated and assembled one!  I had to collate the pages, that much I knew.  But how should I bind everything together?  I wanted these books to reflect real hand-work, so I opted to hand sew the signature, or page-groupings.  This required a punching cradle and a punch awl.  Also a punch template so I knew where the holes went.
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This is the punch cradle and awl.  Both are home made.  That black tape you see down the middle is gaffers tape, linen based.  It has seen over a thousand punches by now.  I use a folded index card as a hole template and lay it atop the center fold and just punch right through.  Hey, it worked, and I got consistent spacing.  But before I punched the first hole, I needed to decide which stitch to use.  I opted for a five-hole pamphlet stitch, which I found on the internet.  It will better endure the tension of the book being opened and closed several times each year.  The stitching thread is tied off in the center.  I wound up using two types of stitching thread, the first twenty-odd books use a darker waxed linen thread, but when I ran out, I discovered my source for this particular thread no longer existed.  So after book twenty, I used waxed silk thread instead.  Both are good, but the silk is white, while the linen is a brownish.  Either way, you don't see it since the cover covers it.
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After I punched one hundred books,  I then had to stitch one hundred books.  Do you know how many Hallmark movies that is??  Days bled into weeks.  Remember, I have a full time job and other things to do in life!  The summer wore on.  I had considered asking for help to get all this done, but decided not to since I didn't know what my schedule to accomplish all this would look like, week to week.
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Eventually I got the textblock stitched.  Next came applying the cover.  This turned out to be a bit more involved than I had planned.  First I had to decide just how that cover was going to attach.  Should I stitch through the cover ?  If so, that would maybe speed things up, but how would the cover wear over the years with five holes and stitches forcing a crease in the spine as it bent back and forth many times?  Also, there was the question of aesthetics.  How would the exposed thread on the spine look against the cover?  If the cover was darker, maybe it would look ok, but I didn't want a dark cover, I liked what I already had.
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After considering options, I decided to tap into my case-binding background and borrow a bit from formal bookbinding techniques which I will show below.  I opted to use a type of end-sheet, which is normally glued to the inside board of a case bound book (hard cover).  This serves three purposes: 
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1- It covers the board covers folded inside the boards, 
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2- It adds to the securing of the cover binding to the spine by relieving some pressure from the cover hinges. 
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3-It relieves pressure from the text block itself.  
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All these things play into the making of a book, chapbook or otherwise, which is in itself a living organism, to provide for it a long and non self-destructive life.
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Applying all the above to the chapbook: I stitched in the end-sheets to serve the dual purpose of being the Title Page cover and function as an end-sheet.  Normally, the end sheets are tipped in, not sewn in to the text block.  However, this was not practical in this application.  I thus glued the cover to the spine of the text block, and allowed the glue to travel a bit beyond the actual spine, so the cover is actually placing part of it's opening and closing tension on the end sheets.  About half an inch or less of the end-sheets attach to the cover.  When you open the chapbook, the end sheet opens with it, but it still protects the title page.  It seemed to be, and has worked out to be a nice compromise for a robust cover, especially considering this is a paper back book!
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This is a mid-progress shot.  The books in the foreground box are awaiting stitching.  The box behind it are where the pages were arranged awaiting collation.  The double deck shelf that looks like an Inbound Outbound tray is actually where I square and bone-fold.  The collated, folded sheets are placed on the bottom tray to await punching and stitching.
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After all the stitching was done, I had to trim the text-blocks on two sides, open and top, to both level the pages so they would fan well, and also the top, for page even-ness and to be size proportional to the cover which is about to be glued over the block.  The trimming was done on a Logan Mat Cutter.  Normally a "plough" is used.  This is a sliding blade that evenly trims the pages of a text block.  The guillotine cutter is best not used for trimming of a book unless a lot of margin is being trimmed off.
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I used the punch cradle for this operation.  I nest the cover, with a decided fold, just as I would if I were punching.  This serves to create a trough for a bead of glue.
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I lay in a thin bead of glue.  I used what is essentially Elmer's Glue-all.  I use it for all my binding, even restoring 300 year old leather bindings and textblocks!  
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I run my finger down the center to smooth out the glue bead, and let it sort of push up the side of the trough just a bit, maybe half inch or less.  You can sort of see it doing this in the photo.  Now remember, the cover is paper!  It will lose stiffness at the fold if you let it get to damp/ gluey, so you will need to develop a "feel" for what's right.
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Next, I remove the cover and set it on a flat table surface to ensure squareness.  I slip the text block directly into the cover fold and glue.  The textblock is also resting on the surface, which means the cover and the text block will be flush at the bottom.  Even, but flush.  However if the cover is a bit larger than the block, you have to slide the textblock up just a bit to split the difference between the distance from the top and bottom of the cover.  Work quickly!  That glue sets pretty fast!  After a few times, I got the feel of it.  Once the textblock sets well in the cover, fold the book.  Then open, grasp the text block and push it in to the cover to make sure it has contact.  You will see some glue appearing at the top and bottom.  You want that.  It should be just a little, easy to wipe off.  Then close the book, and put a binding clip on the open end for the next step.
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Here's a shot of the textblock tightly in the cover.  There may be a minutia of space depending on the thickness of the thread used.
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When folded, before I do any clamping, I check the squareness of the corners of the open end.  Remember the glue does relax the spine a bit, so you have to actually put the book into square if a lot of glue is used.  Once I am satisfied both top and bottom are even with each other, I put a binding clip on it.
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Ok, bottom side looks good, too.  In the case of my Chapbook, there are slight variations in sizes, maybe less than 1/32".  These are hand made, hand cut, hand trimmed books, machine perfection does not happen here.  Each book has a personality all it's own.
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At this point the books are clipped and clamped between two pieces of wood to set for a few minutes before I place them in the nipping press.  I found that once held in place the glue sets well with the pressure exerted by the clamps, the binding clips providing just enough hold to keep the edges of the book from "drifting".  This is all new territory for me, who's relatively light background is entirely involved with case binding and repairing 18th and prior century books.  And yet some principles hold universal.
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After clamping with those wooden paddles (did you recognize them?  Battledore paddles used for Hornbooks!  They sure come in handy for lots of other things.) I place them in my nipping press, which is double layered.  It was custom made probably around 1945-50 at Waukesha, Wisconsin, and was discovered in a maintenance closet at a missions school.  I've never seen one like it.  The boards are Phenol, which was used as high current insulation during the War.

The lower deck holds the books that have already been clamped.  The upper deck is used for the books that come right off the wooden clamps, where they dry under pressure.  So, top is where they dry, bottom is where they stack afterwards.  Both under some pressure.... not a lot.
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In this photo there are two stacks of three books on the lower deck, and the upper deck there is two, as you can see.  The decks are notched to fit between the "cheeks" of the press.
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Now the platen is placed atop the second deck and those two books.  When the next two books are set, the two on the second deck will be stacked on the lower deck, the fresh books replacing them, and so on as a cycle.
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Here is the completed nipping press with ratcheting screw brace. The cheeks (the two steel side bars) stand two feet high, which makes this device multi-functional for sizes up to 7 x 11 inches.  Great for smaller books up to 6 x 9 inches.
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Whew!  Done!  One hundred Pocket Carolers.  Awaiting inspection and then signing and numbering which will probably be done in pencil, as we did will all our limited edition work back when I did custom framing in a fine arts gallery in another life.  Its amazing the things you pick up and carry into another field of endeavor.
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Pricing and Ordering Information
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"A Pocket Caroler" will be available by 12 October 2018.  The price for the first and only edition (so far), signed and numbered is $15.00, plus shipping. PayPal orders and multiple book orders, please contact me directly at the below email addresses, or PM my facebook page.  To order, drop me a line at paperwrenpress@gmail.com, or  wd4nka@gmail.com
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Late note:  I have had a lot of response!  Thanks for the pre-orders, folks!  Some are ordering multiple sets, which is great!  Two things: for quantities over three, I will be shipping using the small flat-rate box, which is at this writing, $8.00 (I'll verify that today at the P.O.).  Another thing: this means the limited availability will go fast. I will keep folks posted as to any changes.
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G. Johanson, Printer.

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Pocket Caroler!


A Pocket Caroler, and a Short History of the Chapbook. 


Production shot of "A Pocket Caroler"


A Short Introductory Video.  
 No, it's not professionally made.  But I like the German Carol in the background....




Introducing my first Chapbook, "A Pocket Caroler".  This is a new direction for the Paper Wren, which is now a "Private Press", having stepped away from the clatter, white noise and fad-chasing which has come to almost define  what is called "21st Century Letterpress".  Myself a print traditionalist who cares more for his ancient presses than whether a client gets a deep enough deboss, a Luddite at heart, I decided to turn the presses at the Paper Wren loose on what they were designed for.  The printing of letters.  Words.  Pages.  This is what identified Letterpress for over 500 years.  Why should it not do so now?

A little about the Chapbook:
chap·book
ˈCHapˌbo͝ok/
noun
historical
plural noun: chapbooks
  1. a small pamphlet containing tales, ballads, or tracts, sold by peddlers.
    • North American
      a small paperback booklet, typically containing poems or fiction.
Firstly, it is indeed called a "Chapbook", which by tradition is a smallish publication, hard or paper bound, usually no more than 48 or so face pages, single signature, folded in the middle and either pamphlet bound or saddle stitched. Often, little more than a pamphlet.  Early in their evolution, the Chapbook was the venue for inexpensive childrens books and for short story/ poetry publications.  They were very inexpensive, relatively, to print and because of their limited production, more attention could be paid to the design aspects of these publications, something attractive to aspiring authors who had not the funding for large scale book publication.
Chapbooks were known for their simple, almost primitive styling, especially their early woodcut illustrations, often tipped into the text block after the text printing and binding.  They were locally made, which meant that the printer and type compositor pretty much worked closely with the author and their own resources and skill levels which reveal themselves in these early Chapbooks.

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Yup.  Jack the Giant Killer (Jack and the Bean Stalk) began life as a simple, almost primitive Chapbook.

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 An example of a very late 17th century childrens' Chapbook, during the era of Queen Anne of Great Britain.
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A classic hard bound, block illustrated childrens' book in chapbook format.  Some of these early chapbooks were actually multiple octavo signature books!  But still, cheap and small.
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As printing machines and techniques improved with the mid 19th century industrial revolution, the quality of the Chapbook improved. Novels began to appear in Chapbook format, as did sonnets and Shakespeare selections.  Unknown authors and poets could introduce themselves to the public via the Chapbook, which by the 1870s could be a surprisingly impressive publication.  

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An example of a relatively not-so-simple hardbound Chapbook classic of 1855, Leaves of Grass, complete with Carte d'Vista photo.  In 1855, this was an actual photo that was tipped into the book.  Technology was advancing.


An assortment of late 18th and early to mid 19th century chapbooks which became less children-centric and began to appeal to adults in the form of short novels and news documentaries.

The Private Press movement of the latter 1800s and early 1900s produced a proliferation of Chapbook publications in a bewildering assortment of sizes, and topics, all of which were printed mostly for the enjoyment of the author and the printer.  And.... often.... the public.  At the height of the Private Press movement, many of these publications began to acquire an audience, and became collectible.  One example are the Roycrofters' "Little Leather Library" series which were originally printed out of East Aurora New York by subscription only, later advertizing in National Geographic and other national magazines.

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Private press chapbooks of the late 19th, and early to mid 20th centuries printed by private, and often basement or underground presses.

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While the Chapbook faded from popular use in the United States, in Europe they continued popularity.  Often, larger books used Chapbooks to tease their release by the publication of the first chapter of the larger book.  England and Germany continued with small private press printings of Chapbooks, as well as corporate involvement  from major Verlags and Buchandlungen, as an example, in Germany.

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Chapbooks from the private press Niche, some belonging to the various Ajay (or "A.J.", or Amateur Jounalist) organizations and printing societies such as the APA (Amalgamated Printers Assoc.), the AAPA (American Amateur Press Association), NAPA (National Amateur Press Association)

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Chapbook publication is just starting to become popular again in the United States, with some colleges offering Chapbook Awards for graduate literature students, and as well private poetry organizations  have started to seek out these sorts of publications for their members to have their work in print.  Some are already achieving collectable status, with surprising auction prices. 

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An example of some of the more modern Chapbooks.  Note the five station pamphlet stitching!  These books are still hand bound.

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As for my most recent attempt at wandering into the world of the Chapbook, I have indeed enjoyed every step of the process.  In a later installment... and as I can get the photos off my Iphone, I'll share the various stages of the printing of my own chapbook, "A Pocket Caroler".  Until then, enjoy the video.

If you wish to reach me about the upcoming availability of "A Pocket Caroler" and would like one for yourself, please e-mail me at paperwrenpress@gmail.com

For further reading on the subject of chapbooks, I've provided some links you may wish to peruse.








I would like to call special attention to the above link to St. Brigid Press.  I am a friend of the owner, Emily Hancock, who's press operation is located in the mountains of Virginia.  Emily is using a press that I restored a few years back, a 1909 Pearl Old Series Model 3, a very sweet treadle press with a great publishing legacy.  Peruse her site, check out the extraordinary high level of fine printing she executes.  She has been an inspiration to me personally, as I model my own shop more or less, in a much smaller scale, after St. Brigid.

Thanks again, Emily.  You get a Caroler !!


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Mission Accomplished! Installment Nr. 7

Worship in Berlin!
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Lubna and Cindy.

Berlin needs Jesus.  Just like Orlando, Florida.  Just like Atlanta, Georgia or New York City or San Fransisco. However, Berlin, and by extension all Germany, has a history that is overwhelming, and so much different than America.  What Berliners had to overcome in living memory cannot be fathomed by folks here in the U.S.  Much as I would love to delve into German history, I won't.  You can read it easy enough on line.  Suffice to say, Berlin needs Jesus, Who loves them enough to die for them.
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Jesus uses His Word and His Saints to awaken, and to disciple.  He uses people who love, who care, and most of all, who understand and are willing to share and partake.  To walk in Berliner shoes.  To "laden ein Bier ein" (share a beer with).  To come along side, to support.  To encourage.  We all do, really.  Berliners are just like everybody else. This was why I was curious about the Hillsong Church, which we visited one Sunday!
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It's called the B/C (Berlin Connect) Home.   The card and literature say "Welcome Home", which could be the name they use, but Googling shows a "parent name" of Berlin Connect.  Funny.... nobody there actually referred to it by name, and I didn't think to ask "Hey Duda, was nannt Mann diesen Ort??"  (Hey, you there, what do ya call this place?)

They meet in a large "Kino", a multiplex Cinema, located by the KulturBrauerei, Schönhauser Allee 36.  It was an awesome place, and I had one of the best worship experiences I have had in years!  It backed a large, cobblestone courtyard the size of a soccer field, which had food trucks parked for use after the service.  About fifteen foodies, in fact!  With food from all around the world.  I had.... ahem.... German.  Sorry.  I didn't come to Berlin to eat Korean.






Lots and lots of food.  Lots and lots of people.  Oh, of course many just came in off the surrounding streets to grab lunch, but how neat was it to be at the back door of your church, where as soon as you are done with engaging with the Saints of Light, you get to engage the folks auf der Straße, on the street, immediately!
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During the worship itself, the singing, the praising  .... I watched in amazement.  People dancing in the pews.  Ok, theatre seating.  They were dancing!    That's what I wanted to see.  Germans dancing before their Lord and King. Do you know how amazing that is to see Berliners dancing in the pews?  Trust me on this one.
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And here we Ami's sat, stiff as a board.  I wanted to run over with them and just... dance.  I wanted to dance for my mother.  I wanted to dance for my Uncle Kurt.  I wanted to dance for my Grandmother and Grandfather Klöpfer, who lost everything near and dear.   I wanted to dance for the atheists in my family who lost all faith and hope, replacing it with cynicism. I wanted to dance in the aisles with fellow Saints of Light.

It was not a packed house, but there were a sizable number there.  There was a Hillsong Band that played up front, and some really great vocalists.  They came from Germany, from Austria, the pastor himself is from Australia.  The guest speaker came from Britain.  The congregation is total einwohner Berliner, peppered with various ex-pats, from what I could tell in my one and only visit.
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It was too dark inside to take candid shots, I wish I could have made a video of the service, the band, and the worship songs which were epic.  The message themed on the value and worth of a person in the eyes of God.  It was one that I believe keyed into the thought-world of most millennial generation Berliners.  It keyed into the identity of the believer.  It may not have been a favourite theme for R.C. Sproul or John MacArthur, but I think it spoke to Berliners right where they are at.  It spoke of the fulfillment that only the Father of Lights is able to provide.  We don't have to go looking for love in all the wrong places!
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The take-away from the message that morning was familiar: everyone has a God-shaped hole in their person, their being, that only the Father can fill.  But we try to fill it with everything else.  Working in the "Gay Triangle", I sure cannot argue with the theology in this message.  It looms large in my life, and I suspect, everyone else's.  
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I did manage to get a couple videos of the entry area where folks are met by greeters, and where they meet each other.  It's the Multiplex food concession area.  It was neat to simply kibitz the area!
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Sorry for the lack of editing. I just sorta panned the 
area while waiting for the rest of the group!  You might
have noticed the top photo was taken between these
two videos.
 

The "Welcome Home" Berlin Connect church has a specific three point ministry.  
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1. "Envision", which speaks to the worship service on Sunday itself, which is amazing, and yes, "envisioning", as I hope you might conclude based upon the above narrative.   
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2. "Enlarge", which speaks to core development of the Church Community itself, and I get that.  You can never, EVER, in a million years have an effective outreach unless you have excellent inreach.  We miss that in main line "Evangelica" here in the states because, whether cognizant of it or not, we have overwritten Business Culture into our Churches.... which is why we rely so much on selling people on the Gospel, we train sales techniques, we try to attract people to 'buy our wares'.  Marketing the Gospel.  We make it sound sooo valid by using the Corporate Business term: Outward Focused.  "We are all-in", another business term that comes right out of the corporate think-tanks!  We are so, so commercially oriented, I don't think we realise it.  But if we do something novel, like rely on the Holy Spirit to draw and to call, and focus on the open Word, and love one for another within, then maybe those on the outside looking in may say what Josephus once quoted:  

"Oh, how they love one another!"   Nothing is more attractive than that.
Now, where was I?  Oh, yeah....
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3. "Engage".  This is where they take it to the street, that is, they engage the community in the "Alltage", the "Everyday".  The one on one.  Making relationships, making friends.  Enjoying their fellow "Einwohner".

I want to share this paragraph, which is found in the "Welcome" brochure:


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If any of this peaques your interest, look up:

Berlin Connect
Welcome Home
(Kino in der KultureBrauerei)
Schoenhauser Alle 36.  10435, Berlin

Did I just do a commercial thing and advertise a church?  (sigh!) 

Hey, gang, I have to wrap this up here.  I can go on and on, but time and space is limited.  Let me part by asking you, dear Saint, to pray for revival in Germany.  Maybe it can start at Hauptstadt Berlin!  The Capital City Berlin !

Tschüß! 

(At some point I would like to get hold of the presentation video we made for this trip to show to our congregation... I still may be able to get somebody to forward it to me, it seems to have fallen between the cracks.)