All Things Wireless & Letterpress

All Things Wireless & Letterpress

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

New, from Anna Coleman, Illustrator, and the Paper Wren!

So, what's up at the Paper Wren?  

Well... on the heels of our first Chapbook project, Anna Coleman, of Anna Coleman Illustrations, approached me about helping her out with the production of her first pocket notebook journal.

Wow, that would be a first for me, too!

So the coconuts collided over design and dimensions and number of pages and how we were going to bind this little booklet.  Enter a vintage piece of equipment that I have kept waiting in the wings for just this very thing: a 1940s/ 50s era power book-stitcher, made by Acme Steel.

Now, apart from being tuned up by Dave Seat back in 2013 when I first got it as part of a package from Mama's Sauce when I did some work for them in 2012, it had never seen use.  As far as Nick Sambrato knows, the whole time they had it at the Sauce, it never had been used.  They had it way back in their Winter Park days when their shop neighbor was Anna Bond, starting her fledgling Rifle Design studio.  I remember it standing against the wall by that cool display counter Joey and Nick had in the office.  Little did I know one day it would be part of the Paper Wren.

So, having agreed to be part of this project, I immediately made a trip over to the Orange City shop where the Acme Stitcher was kept by the Kluge and other larger equipment.  She had been oiled, but needed a touch of lube on the wire spindle holder.  She uses sewing machine oil, but 3:1 will do.  Careful not to get any of it in the wire journals.

Ok, so just what is a Book Stitcher?   These machines were used to saddle and side stitch pamphlets, magazines, small periodicals, - they are a glorified stapler.  Only, these staples are steel, a wider and stronger gauge, and can punch through 3/4 of an inch of densely packed paper, which will deflect a .22 bullet.

These machines go back as far as the Gordon Franklin presses, and paralleled their developmental timeline.  They were used in the first manufactured (read: non hand sewn) case bound books.  School books of the 1860s and 1870s were often side stitched instead of signature sewn, then glued and mulled and cased, just like any other casebound book.  I have at least one book published by a German Verlag in Reading, PA, 1872, with fine woodcuts, which is quarter bound and side stapled.  I did not realize this until I peeled back the quarter spining to check out it's condition.  There, under the endsheet, were three steel staples holding around ten signatures together.  You would never have known it.

This discovery made me interested in obtaining one of these machines.

I went out to the shop, and ran the Acme through it's paces for a couple hours, shop manual in hand.  There are several controls on this machine, and as far as I know, parts are no longer available, so I have to baby this thing.

I made a short video of the test stitches.

I hasten to add: under normal operation, fingers never get this close to the stitch-head!  It was a controlled environment when I did the testing here.  But the percussion of the punch was intimidating nonetheless.   A little oil came through with the staples, but after a time, cleared up.  There is a little dimple at the crown of the staples, but aside from this, the machine did a great job.  I think the stitch wire is as old as the machine itself, which is pretty cool.

The paper selected for the cover is French Paper's Speckletone, which is what I used for my Pocket Caroler.  The text pages are Neenah's natural white Classic Laid.  There are 15 sheets used to make 60 face pages, saddle stitched.
The cover design is the creation of illustrator Anna Coleman.  Attribution for both Paper Wren Press and Anna Coleman Illustrations is on the back cover.  The cover itself is printed on a 1936 Chandler & Price "New Series" 8 x 12 Gordon Franklin Letterpress, which is my press at home.  
The following are a series of photos taken during the printing and bindery operations.  Anna is no stranger to letterpress, and took to the feed and draw table very nicely.


The collating, printing and folding was done at my home over a period of two days.  Afterword, all the signatures, covers, and guard sheets were brought over the the Orange City shop where we did the binding and final edge trimming off the 1908 Craftsman Guillotine.

These Pocket Notebooks will be available through Anna Coleman both at her shop, and at the Deland Indie Market which will happen 2 December 2018.  Also, some of my limited edition Pocket Carolers will be there as well.

So, that's hot off the Press at the Paper Wren.  If you are in town, check out the DeLand Indie Market, and swing by Anna's booth!