Dave Seat and Kluge, all bundled up and ready to roll!
Hi! I just got word from the person who is delivering my press, Dave Seat, that amidst the snowfall that was happening while loading her up, my new Kluge is thoroughly bubble-wrapped against the elements, and will arrive here Thursday Morning! I will be at the storage unit (which temporarily poses as my satellite pressroom and bindary!) with some help, to meet both Dave and the Kluge for the first time. Since I am technically still under home care, I can disconnect from the I.V. pump for up to twelve hours. Can't lift anything for a while, but I can be there, at very least! This will be press number two for Paper Wren Press, our other workhorse is a 1936 New Series Chandler and Price hand-feeder. Until I sold her to St. Brigid Press, I also had a Parlour Press, with castings designed in 1879, but cast in 1909, a Pearl Old Style No. 3, photos of which can be found on my Educational Blog. Click the links on "Pearl Files".
This is no ordinary Kluge. You will find very little about this press surfing the internet. The Kluge Letterpress was designed before WW1 by Brandtje Kluge, as a production machine that focuses on what has been seen as the finest inking system of all Platen Job presses, sporting four rollers for maximum even-ness of ink coverage. It is built like a Mack Truck, so no real danger turning up the impression pressure - within reason, of course! What makes this Kluge different is the fact that it was specially designed by Brandtje Kluge NOT to have an autofeeder. Most Kluges have an automatic feed and retrieval system, which is really something to behold. However, many cases arise when the feeder cannot handle thick stock, pulp board, &c., and must be fed by hand. In those cases, the autofeeder is moved to the side, and you very carefully feed it by hand. Autofed Kluges are not made to be fed by hand, they "snap". The place you set the paper for impression does not stay open long, because it is geared for a machine feeder. Not the human hand. While I have hand-fed regular Kluges often, slowing the press speed down to it's lowest level, it still takes some time building up a cadence, a rhythm, to safely hand-set your paper, and then get your hands out of there before it closes up.
This Kluge was specifically designed for hand-feeding. It has no auto-feeder (hence, I can still look my clients right in the eye and say my prints are still hand-fed, one by one, just as they were in the 19th century!) These are called "Open" Kluges, and are quite scarce, especially if they were made by the Factory, not an "aftermarket" cam fix. The feed boards are made by Kluge. Kluge even supplied a can of paint, to keep her show-room floor glamorous.
In the big scheme of Letterpress ages, this Open Kluge is a baby. It was built in 1965, very, very late in the game. Most letterpresses saw the sun set on their production well before the 1950s. So, she has a lot of life left. She is belted to a brand new motor & clutch, and comes with a number of chases and tools, and both composition (traditional sugar-glue materials) rollers, and blue Nitrile rollers.
She will not make Paper Wren Press faster. She will give us much greater variety of image size and impression depth, and as well give us the ability to cover broader areas of solid colour. But, she is still a hand fed press, enabling each print to be hand pulled and scrutinized by the printer (me).
There is a lot of things I don't know about the Open Kluge, how the gripper bars or registry pins differ from the standard autofeeders, but we will learn as we get to know her.
Excited we are! Stay tuned!