Heaven on Wood at Hamilton

Do you know what a wayzgoose is? If you were one of the geese at the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, WI, this past weekend, you’d know without asking. Fortunately, I looked it up before going:

Wayzgoose is an entertainment given by a master printer to his workmen each year on or about St. Bartholomew’s Day (Aug. 24). It marked the traditional end of summer and the start of the season of working by candlelight. Later, the word came to refer to an annual outing and dinner for the staff of a printing works or the printers on a newspaper.

What it is at Hamilton is the most inspiring, insightful and delightful confabulation of printers, typographers, type designers, historians and buffs, graphic designers and assorted bearded others that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.

 

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This is not going to be a review of the conference but rather a brief recollection of the extraordinary time that Louise Fili and I had in Two Rivers, staying with Dan Rhatigan and Marian Bantjes in a classic Frank Lloyd Wright house and spending time exploring the massive (and I mean gigar-gantuan-antic) factory building that houses Hamilton’s 1 million-plus pieces of wood type, working presses, pantagraphs, routers, cutters and even medical furniture once made by Hamilton Manufacturing.

The brains and brawn behind this highly volunteer-built type-stitution are the brothers Bill and Jim Moran (director)—forces of nature and amazing gentlemen whose passions are equaled by the important successes they’ve made maintaining this palace of print. For now, here are some of my snaps and a few annotations, too.

 

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Print by Rick von Holdt, one of many wonderful obsessives of type and printing.

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One of the many pantagraphs that are still in operation for cutting wood type in multiple sizes.

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Red plate for a Barnum & Bailey multi-sheet poster.

Hamilton’s cultural value is priceless, but the entire facility, its exhibits, storage (which you’ll see below) and educational capacity are a gift to us all. What was almost lost to a wrecking ball (the original factory buildings were demolished, leaving the artifacts at risk) is a thriving center of positive energy. The love of type and printing pervade the space and the overall philosophy. Two hours from Milwaukee across from Lake Michigan (one big lake), the entire experience is worth the extra effort.

 

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Do you design your own typefaces? Are you passionate about type-centric design work? Have you produced an excellent handlettered project? If so, we want to see your work. All too often, typeface designs, typographic designs and handlettering get overlooked in competitions—which is why Print developed a competition that gives the artforms their full due and recognizes the best designers in each category. Enter Print’s Typography & Lettering Awards today.

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