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About Many Names Press

Thomas Jefferson once wrote:
"I have sworn upon an altar of God, eternal hostility
against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
A nation cannot be both ignorant and free."

Free expression in print advances education and thereby enhances freedom for all people. Use your local libraries, presses and independent bookstores.

SUPPORT THE FREE PRESS ~ THINK FREE ~ READ



A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LETTERPRESS. . . .

The Cropper The Minerva "Cropper"appeared around 1867. Like the "Alligator" before it, these platens (also called "clamshells") were no doubt named for their voracious consumption of fingers and hands! By 1898, the Gordon Challenge, precursor of the Chandler &Price, with its movable chase where the rollers are mounted, vastly deterred the appendage-eating aspect of the previous letterpresses. Modern newspapers and copy shops replaced these aesthetically pleasing machines with the high-speed technology of offset printing developed between the world wars. Today, the remaining letterpresses are used by specialty printers for die cutting and foil stamping, in third world countries, and by artisans and hobby printers. Letterpress printing these days can only be learned by an elder craftsperson, by old texts and trade manuals, and by the hands-on process. I learned mostly hands on. And I learned when to have my hands off!


AND WHY I CAME BY MANY NAMES PRESS

My love of gears and levers began as a child. Each summer, my parents loaded us five girls into our massive station wagon and secured our bicycles on top. With my Hercules 3-speed English touring bike, we'd escape muggy Virginia for Long Island, New York, where our grandparents lived above their motor shop in the middle of the town. I would wake up every morning and go down into the concrete den full of tools, smells of oil, detergent, and sea salt. My big Grandpa would call me over with that distinct accent of his:

"Hea, hammahed, lets get deese geahs in ohda on that old bike of yuhs..." and out would come the crescent wrenches, screwdrivers, vicegrips, etc., etc.

Many years later, I was one of the first women undergraduates allowed in to Jefferson's all-male University of Virginia. They had to let women in because otherwise affirmative action laws would prevent them from receiving federal money, I was lucky, both my smarter older sisters couldn't go there. My job was shelving British literature in the stacks. In the basement of the library, behind a square of chain-link fence, stood the University printing press. It was an immaculate Chandler & Price platen press, exactly the model I owned until recently. I used to get goosebumps every time I passed that magnificent, dark, lonely enigma. How did it work? What made it tick? Not simple like a bicycle. . . .

AND HOW I CAME BY MANY NAMES PRESS....

Some twenty years ago, I set up shop in a cabin at a farm I lived on in the northernmost part of California. I had the Ama Press then. The structure is still there, propped up by a redwood tree, keeping it from sliding into the slough. I was always trading for and upgrading my presses. Jack Hitt (alas, rest in peace my friend and fellow book lover) and I went to Oregon and a ghost town called Golden and picked up a broken platen and a Multilith offset off an old commune about to be repossessed. I found the original owners of the equipment and sent them some money, then I traded for a Davidson offset and so on. I still have some of that original foundry type in cases.

I moved to the Monterey Bay area in an effort to keep abreast of the printing world. I really was a tramp printer, working in several different shops, picking up skills one could never learn in school. I had many names for my own press I kept on the side, and in light of this, in 1992 I began my own business called Many Names Press, named this because I couldn't decide on any one name. It suits my desire to maintain a Pantheist's view of the earth and maintain its ecological balance.

The Letterpress Chappel of Santa Cruz is here; an internationally renown group of designers, printers, fine hand bookbinders and papermakers operating letterpresses which utilize lead type, photo-etched and wood engravings. After the Bookshop Santa Cruz building was destroyed in the 1989 earthquake, owner Neal Coonerty bought my old Gordon Challenge, so enabling me to buy an even bigger, better press for my shop.

Maintaining an ecological approach, I began to print on an old offset press using soy inks and recycled papers, in a garage in Capitola in February of 1993. Wearing multiple hats, I printed 200,000 mailing pieces for "Belles Lettres" and Janet Mullaney, who started the feminist magazine. A Readers' Digest designer sent me the artwork. I would pretend to be the owner, then the graphic artist, then the printer, all rolled into one. Her phone calls to me were downright hilarious.

Quickly needing more space for 2 Hamadas, a platemaker and a bindery, I moved to a big ice storage facility. There was so much room that many art happenings and shows became very popular with the cultured set. I rented out the unused space to artists I knew. I bought and sold the letterpress equipment people unloaded on me (must’ve thought I needed it). I printed a book with full-color plates (loved the registration on those presses!) for my uncle Bill and became good friends with Suki Wessling of Chatoyant Press. Eventually, the compressor and freeway noise gave way to a foray into the action of downtown Soquel, again associating with artists and art galleries in the area. I printed books for postern the quiet, sunny bucolic orchard I call home I kept the platen and a 20x24 flatbed Asbern letterpress and several cabinets of type I used frequently. I printed the fine press book "The Woodcuts of Andrea Rich" there, as well as many a chap book and broadside.

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and I took up the computer to edit and layout books for my clients. This was a new, and very exciting tack into the book publishing world. I took courses in Photoshop and Illustrator, and with the help of books and the three year stint as a production artist at West Marine, I became very proficient at Quark and other handy applications.

In the summer of 2001 I sold the offset equipment and concentrated on the letterpress and computer. In 2004 I traded in the big behemoth letterpresses for a sweet little pilot 6x9 platen and bookbinding equipment. I enjoy teaching letterpress, and my bookbinding teacher Constance Hunter and I often trade skills.
After a brief prelude as a graphic artist for first a fine art collector, then a printshop and finally a local newspaper, I realized I hate sitting down all day. I became a schoolbus driver for the Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) and drive a 25 year old, double-clutch 78-passenger Crown about 150 miles a day, picking up about 250 kids, who I have to say, are much more interesting and cooperative than adults are sometimes. With biodiesel - I am honored to have helped start the ball rolling on biodiesel in the schoolbuses - and new technology for efficiency and filtering, we are really reducing carbon emissions while using a renewable, safer fuel. Parents should know that schoolbus drivers as a group are the safest drivers on the road today and should consider letting their children ride the schoolbus whenever possible! The gas wasted by each parent driving a kid to school is about 10 times the amount buses use. What with the health benefits and union and the time off to do my writing, editing, reading, letterpress printing and publishing, I am today in a fortunate position indeed.

Dog at a fire hydrant

  • Please go to services now, for more information on printing for your business or publication.
  • Please go to books, for a descriptive list of publications available from Many Names Press for sale.

ABOUT MANUSCRIPTS

Writers and artists often ask me to produce and/or market their publications and I am glad to do so. However, at this time, I do not solicit manuscripts to publish under the Many Names Press imprint unless funding sources are found.



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