Printing money — of sorts

One of the vintage gems in my small assortment of blocks is this exquisite bank note engraving.  While I know nothing about printing money, I’m assuming that this is the underlay or background for paper currency.  The copperplate pattern is complex and lovely. I have no idea how old it is, but the block itself appears to be in good shape.

Although there is a branch of the old American Bank Note Company (now the Canadian Bank Note Co.) still very much in business here in Ottawa, I cannot assume that the block comes from that venerable company.  I suspect most of the type and blocks in my little shop passed through the doors of Don Black Linecasting at some time.

I’ve never had occasion to use the block (I was always a little afraid I might be accused of counterfeiting, after all). But recently, a friend of mine who’s an artisan blacksmith, asked me to print up some gift certificates for his newly-established shop, Vans Blacksmithing.  I decided this just might be the perfect, viz., the only occasion I would have to use this block.

It felt good to crank up the Reprex once again for this little project:  I used Stymie Light (36 pt and 24 pt) for the heading (a close match to the font used for Vans branding and website), along with my newly-cast Bembo 18 pt. for a short jobbing run.

In the course of the job, I discovered the paper grippers have become sluggish; refusing to clamp down quickly to secure the paper precisely. It slowed me down a little bit; but a little Mumford & Sons  and Mozart made the time fly.  Nonetheless, I’m happily soliciting input for this devilish glitch.  Feedback welcome at info(a)thecrankypress(dot)ca. I’m also off to glean the wisdom of the good folks at Briar Press to help me diagnose and resolve the problem.


And in the meantime, if you’re looking for unique, handcrafted forge-works (what with Christmas coming and all), check out Vans’ facebook page or his site.  There’s some really nice stuff there!

Hand-forged nutcracker by Vans Blacksmithing
Hand-forged nutcracker by Vans Blacksmithing



2 thoughts on “Printing money — of sorts

  1. Very cool job! That engraving looks great, and I think the typography is completely appropriate as well. Did you have any trouble with the makeready for such a large image with continuous tones? It doesn’t appear to be an issue from the photos in your post. I am a platen-only printer, so I’m sorry that I have no suggestions for your gripper issue. I’ll bet Vans is very happy with the certificates!

  2. Thanks, Jim. The bank note block was in surprisingly good condition; I had only a little bit of underlay to fiddle with during the makeready. The typography was, I think, sheer luck that I had a suitable font to match Vans’ brand.

    And I’m happy to report that a couple of people have contacted me with solutions for the gripper problems — I’m off to buy a can of graphite lubricant and then figure out how to get into the carriage to clean and lubricate the assembly. {gulp!}
    – Sue

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