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Center for Book Arts Celebrates Letterpress Centennial

Daily News

Online Only, posted 3.11.09

The Center for Book Arts (CBA) in New York City is celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the Vandercook Proof printing press with a series of events and the publication of the limited edition Vandercook Book, a collaborative artist book featuring work created using the press. The Vandercook Proof, developed by Robert O. Vandercook in 1909, became less popular with publishers as printing technology advanced, but was later adopted by artists and book designers and, according to the CBA, has been "central to the current resurgence of interest in the book arts and fine printing."

The Vandercook Book is comprised of thirty broadsides published by printers working with diverse printing surfaces including polymer plates and linoleum and using a variety of papers. The book also includes a collection of essays by printers. Later this spring, the prints will be on display at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Columbia University in New York City, the Book Club of California in San Francisco, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the Printing Museum in Houston.

The CBA is also hosting a series of panel discussions about the press. "The Vandercook in the Twentieth Century," to be held on March 18 at the CBA’s home on 27th Street, will explore the press’s shift from tool of industry to artist’s instrument, and how the Vandercook has affected the small press community. "The Vandercook Renaissance," scheduled for April 22, will look at how knowledge about the literary, graphic, and artistic applications of the letterpress are being passed on through the generations. For more information visit the CBA Web site.

Credit: Katherine McCanless Ruffin

An image from The Vandercook Book, a collaborative artist book published by Barbara Henry and Roni Gross.

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