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Recreating the Jersey Cream Letterpress Print

“The Jersey Cream blocks are the oldest pieces we know of in the collection that were made by Hamilton. There is a distinct possibility that we will never be able to print from the original blocks again,” says Jim Moran, Museum Director for the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.

Created more than 120 years ago at Hamilton Manufacturing, the Jersey Cream woodblocks inked paper for the last time to create 100 beautiful posters. “It feels amazing to bring images back to life that haven’t seen ink for over a century,” says Jim Moran, the Musem Director for the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum and a letterpress veteran for 35-years. Moran was the one to replicate the lovely letterpress design using the same tactics as printers did more than a century ago.

Recreating the Jersey Cream Letterpress Print:

Moran used the three oldest wood blocks in the Hamilton collection and three process colors (blue, yellow and rhodamine) to recreate a vintage ad for the Jersey Cream company. Hamilton Manufacturing originally crafted the blocks sometimes between 1888 and 1891. (Fun fact: the blocks went unnoticed for nearly 100 years as they sat in the basement of Hamilton’s main office.) Due to their age, this is probably the last time these blocks will be used. Dryness and cracks formed over time damage the vintage blocks, a problem the museum is trying to solve. “We try to minimize damage with oil, but a stable storage environment is necessary,” remarks Moran.

Besides presenting the beauty and workmanship of the vintage design, the limited edition posters serve a greater purpose. They’re the hopeful heroes of the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. The rare 12.5 x 19 posters printed on Neenah’s ENVIRONMENT® Papers in Honeycomb RAW are available for purchase on the Beauty of Letterpress site. The proceeds will procure a humidity/climate-controlled room that will preserve similar historic pieces from the Hamilton collection from cracks and dryness. (The Beauty for Letterpress site also accepts donations to save these historical letterpress pieces.)

About the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum:

The Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum is the perfect place for print enthusiasts to wander and gaze at more than 1.5 million pieces of wood type. As the only museum dedicated to the preservation, study, production and printing of wood type, it houses the remaining Hamilton Manufacturing woodblocks and the equipment necessary to make wood type and print. The museum’s collection also contains advertising cuts from the 1930s through the 1970s, the equipment used in the production of hot metal type, the tools of the craft and rare type specimen catalogs.

Help save this integral part of graphic design history by visiting the Beauty of Letterpress and the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum’s sites.

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