Having wrestled this heavy metal into my basement, the print shop includes a sometimes-cantankerous Reprex No. 1 Proof Press and a Craftsmen Monarch 9 x 12 platen press. In addition, I have a large and eclectic collection of typefaces, sorts and blocks. Alas, with few exceptions, no font is complete – and inevitably, I’ll discover I’m short of sorts just as I compose the last few lines on a broadside. Still, the print shop is both haven and sandbox where I spend many pleasant hours there, puttering, learning, cranking.
Which leads me to the name. Of course, the double entendre is intentional. While ostensibly referring to the hand-crank on the press that propels all words into print, there are any number of reasons that can make the press — or me — cranky.
Aside from the mysterious and never-ending “make-ready” process (which has been known to make me crazy at times), there’s the tetchy nature of press itself. Like most sexagenarians, the Reprex is creaky and stiff – and needs plenty of cajoling before it will settle down to work. Indeed some parts were missing entirely, leaving me to puzzle and ponder about what exactly was missing, and how to replace it.
Happily, an operator’s manual was found (thanks to Paul Moxon’s excellent Vandercook site and accompanying VanderBlog), and with assistance of a resourceful and imaginative spouse, the press’s ailments have been mostly remedied.
And after suffering once too often from a maddening shortage of sorts, we also purchased some brand shiny new type. Caslon Inland is now our house font, efficiently cast by the folks at M & H Type.
Here are a few pictures of my print “shop.” While the setting is not so fabulous, I always manage to indulge in the vintage beauty of the press, the type and furniture…
The Cranky Press is a proud founding member of the Ottawa Press Gang, a small but dedicated group of letterpress aficionados, whose members include The Grunge Papers, Greyweathers Press, and The Bytown Bookshop.