Hitting the Road with Hamilton Woodtype
Gorgeous prints and posters promoting the traveling wonders and merriment of days long gone will now hit the road themselves thanks to a collaboration between Adobe Typekit and the Hamilton Woodtype & Printing Museum.
The Enquirer Collection exhibit was unveiled at the Hamilton Wayzgoose conference earlier this month in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, framed in custom travel-ready cases. We chatted with Artistic Director Bill Moran about this new endeavor.
What is the Enquirer Collection? Why is it going on the road?
The Enquirer Collection is a group of printing plates, wood type, vintage posters and correspondence letters from Enquirer Printing, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company was founded in 1895 and was one of the country’s premier circus and entertainment letterpress shops. The shop is run by brothers Mike and John Anderson who are 4th generation printers working in the company founded by their great grandfather. The shop was especially well known for the beautifully carved, multi colored wood block plates.
Hamilton acquired the collection in 2015 and is in the process of cataloging the 4,000+ blocks that will not only be printed at the museum but also be exhibited as original works of American advertising art. Most of these blocks and their accompanying posters haven’t been seen by the general public in over 70 years. Because of the exceptional beauty of these plates, we’ve decided to share this collection with the larger design community as an example of how sophisticated entertainment advertising was in the early to mid 20th century.
What was the catalyst for the traveling exhibit?
When Adobe Typekit approached us with the intent of supporting of the museum, we wanted to channel their gift into sharing this collection with a wider audience. We realized that a professionally designed and secure traveling exhibit would allow us to showcase the collection at various design, letterpress and printing venues around the country.
Who is involved in putting this exhibit together?
Museum director Jim Moran and artistic director Bill Moran began with assessing the need to protect both original prints and restrikes from the collection. Exhibit designer Dan Spock visited the museum in 2016 and suggested we enlist fixture designer Amanda Wambach to create industry-standard cases that would stand up to freight transportation requirements. In turn Amanda recommended Grant Wibben to manufacture the cases. A key part of the manufacturing process was to create a traveling crate that would adequately protect the cases during transport.
Where would you like to see this exhibit travel?
Design conferences, rare book libraries, corporate design venues, and book arts centers.
Who is the audience for this exhibit?
Graphic designers, typographers, letterpress printers and American art lovers of all stripes.
When can it get on the road?
We’re ready to get this on the road after April of 2018.
How can organizations/events host the exhibition?
Reach out to Bill Moran to schedule. There is a fee for transporting and rental of the exhibit.
Do you foresee the cases being used for non-Enquirer exhibits in the future?
As of now the Enquirer Collection is the primary use for the cases. We designed them to also hold the blocks themselves. When the exhibit isn’t traveling it will hold various items from the museum’s permanent collection of prints.
Anything else you’d like to add?
In many ways Typekit has been instrumental in helping the museum realize its vision of being the premier collection of printing history and a place where new printing is done every day. They and many others have helped to get us where we are today. Thanks!
All images courtesy of Hamilton Woodtype & Printing Museum