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The Twilight of Letterpress: New York in the 80s
April 25, 2019 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
In the early 1980s Ron Gordon and his associate, Dean Bornstein, traveled around New York City to document the letterpress shops that were still in operation, including Bowne & Co., the Harbor Press, Pittsburgh Metal’s foundry, Peter Kruty Editions, Grenfell Press, Ron’s own Oliphant Press, and Charles Press (shown above). Ron and Dean interviewed the various proprietors and photographed their shops, their studios, and representative samples of their work. Little did any of them know that what was coming to an end in the city was not only letterpress, but the whole printing industry itself. Ron will show Dean’s nostalgic and evocative photos again in a re-creation of a talk originally given in 1984, and reflect on printing in New York the last 35 years.
RON GORDON studied printing, typography, and book design with two great masters, Leonard Baskin and Joseph Blumenthal, and then founded his own Oliphant Press in 1970 to carry on the tradition of fine printing and design. Beginning as a letterpress printer, Ron adapted his style and skills as the craft shifted to computer typesetting, offset lithography, and now, digital printing. His work has been exhibited at the Amherst College Library, the RIT Cary Collection, and the Club of Odd Volumes, in Boston. Ron has taught workshops at the book arts centers at Wells, Wellesley, Dartmouth, and RIT. He has trained numerous assistants and interns, and has lectured at libraries, colleges, and book clubs all over the country.