All Things Wireless & Letterpress

All Things Wireless & Letterpress


*** Please read the update at the end of this post! ***

Hi, folks: this is a bit of an update regarding QSL cards printed for Novice Rig Round Up participants, regardless if you have an NRR number or not.  

Over the past few months efforts have been taken at my print shop, Paper Wren Press, to offer an affordable, yet very authentically period-printed QSL card, one that would equate to a typical QSL card from the 1920s - 50s, before the widespread use of Offset printing and later, digital printing which is how most QSL cards are printed today.  The old QSL card guys with the 10x15 "Iron Horse" platen presses are long gone.  So is their work, sadly.  There is something about printing by pushing metal, wood, or polymer into paper.  There is a saturation of colour, a dimensional quality, but most of all to me, the vintage radio geek: heck, if yer gonna soak tons of money inta yer cool vintage station, why da heck are ya sending a digital card??  Or worse, an "E-Card"!  Wow, that's kinda like a copper jacketed musket ball . . . or an automatic repeating crossbow.  Heh.

Never made sense to me, but I digress. . . . . mumble mumble  . . . . 

So, here's what we have available.  ONE, count em, one design.  That way you won't go nuts over indecision.  Here it is:

 I know you have eyes and can see, but I'm gonna go over the design anyway.  

The top and bottom margin is code.  Bet you missed that.  No?  Gold star for you.  What does it say, class?  "nrr".  Yup.  In the center is a blue-green diamond, which is the NRR logo.  No, I didn't steal it from the ARRL.  Ours is soooo much cooler, with all due respect to HPM.  It's a monogram, actually. 

That silhouetted J-38 was my very own Speed-X until I traded it for a Hammarlund Speaker.  I traced the silhouette, inked it, vectorized it, and there she is.  No clip art here, gang!  Only the real deal.  

The QSL field is black, and in case I missed something, there is a comment spot.  Yup.  So you can write cool things like  "Ur sigs vy qsa 10 ft from fones", or some other historical thing like that....  The sky's the limit!

In case you didn't notice, your address and big, luscious call is in Red Bodoni Bold.  In the printing world, that's called "class". 

Just take my word for it.

Here's a slight design variant.  This one has an ARRL logo and an SKCC logo, balancing each other.  If you only get one,  the card falls over, you see.  Gotta get both.  You ARE SKCC, right?  No?   Then see the above design.

Letterpress is a production venue.  It is extremely labour intensive. You don't do fifty cards.  It takes fifty cards just to get the press set up!!  100 - 250 costs the same to run, so let's say 250 cards are the minimum.  So, here is what I've come up with for order costs:

250 cards = $55.00, plus $15.00 shipping, or $70.00.

500 cards =  $100.00 plus $20.00 shipping, or $120.00

Sales tax must be included for all Florida Residents.

I do take PayPal.   (PayPal to
Checks, send payable to:  Gary Johanson

Mail to:

Gary Johanson, WD4NKA
Paper Wren Press
1125 Elgrove Drive
Deltona, FL 32725

So, what do these look like in real life?  Here we go:

 Ronnie's card.

 Gary's card

 Bry's card.

So, there ya go!  NRR cards, and your's truly in his rather typical wise-guy fashion.  Truth is, I love vintage and tube radios (and vintage solid state, too!), and I love vintage and hand-artisan printing.  The two go together so well.  And I have a huge respect for you, the owner-builder-operator of these awesome Novice and Vintage rigs.  Which is why I wanted to make cards like these available to compliment your incredible efforts to keep not only the Novice Rigs alive and relevant, but your fond memories as well.  It is my hope these cards may contribute to that dynamic.

-gary // wd4nka. 

*** Special Notice:  Looks like Paper Wren Press is attracting an international clientele,  something quite unexpected.  Also, over half of the inquiries I am receiving are asking for modifications.  Add this, drop that, and that's ok, really!  What has happened as a result, though, is that my "standard" format is somewhat less than "standard" now, which means I have to order more dies from my vendor than I had planned originally.  So, what to do?

I did not want to charge custom rates, that would mean charging three and four times the above listed fees, very typical for Letterpress Printing.  So, here is the deal I struck with the guys that make my plates: group pricing.   What this means is that in the main, the prices can stay at $70.00 per 250 cards and include these custom logos, variations of primary design, &c.  

The down side is that I have to have at least two orders.  So instead of sending die orders off individually, I need to send them by the twosies.  It saves the vendor material costs, and that savings gets passed down to me, and hence.... to you.

So, the news is: you are not confined to just this one design.  

Here are some variation examples:

The central NRR diamond can be omitted, if you are not an NRR member, of course.  Notice the addition of member numbers, which must be the same colour as the call and address.

Here is a complete re-design that a lot of folks seem to like.  Note the FISTS logo and ARRL logo.  These are wholly re-drawn, not just downloaded clip art.  I took a look at the available clip art, and, frankly, they vectorize horribly!  So.... I simply redrew them.  You may note that I also completely re-drew Epper's "QCWA Old Timer", returning it to it's original 1947 design.  So much was lost over the years of copying and re-copying, I thought I would restore it to it's original.

Yup.  Black and white.  Two fingers on the key.  Pipe smoke returned to it's "sine wave" shape.  I made special pains to make sure that it is authentically "uneven"!  Yup.  Eppers did not center ANYTHING!  The spacing of the lightening bolts are correct.  QCWA droops to the right.  "Crumb-style" cross hatch shading.  You can see the buckles on the old fella's suspenders!   Yup, you QCWA guys can have the REAL DEAL on your cards, too!  Now, Otto Eppers never enlarged this logo, but I made it so that you can without screwing up the details.   I would recommend, if you use this, to go with a very light grey, and let it serve as a background.  BUT.... you can do what Eppers did.  Print it in bluish purple, miniaturize it, and park it on your card somewhere, like Otto did.  But he did such a good job.... why not display it?

Here is the original card.   

So, this is the latest update on what we can do with Letterpress QSL Cards.  Old School Cards.  Old School Printing.  Lots of Iron and Coffee!

-gary // wd4nka


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