Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Joys of the Wayzgoose

Can you think of anything better than getting together with a roomful of people who love the same printing hobby you do? Especially when some people wonder about the sanity of us hobby printers, hauling home tons of lead, cast iron, and heavy machinery, and tinkering with slivers of metal to form sentences and paragraphs, one letter and one space at a time.

At an APA Wayzgoose (printer’s convention) you have the opportunity to swap, sell, and salivate over type, cuts, presses, and whatnot. You meet printers with years of expertise that they’re happy to share. You meet new printers full of enthusiasm and excitement. You talk, hang out, meet and greet. Old friends are there, and new friends are there to be discovered. For one glorious weekend a year you eat, sleep, dream, and live letterpress.

Between attending printer’s conventions with my family as a kid and going to them with my husband as an adult, I’ve been to 27 APA Wayzgooses. Still it never gets old, and I never miss one if I can help it.

There’s opening day, the gathering of trucks, vans, trailers, and flatbeds. You chat in the hospitality room, sharing stories about the treasure trove of type you stumbled upon or the one that got away. There may be a chance to run old presses, tour another printer’s shop, or visit a printing museum or rare book room. You socialize late into the evening, talking with old friends, squinting at proofs of unidentified typefaces, meeting new people and asking about their interests and presses.

Saturday morning and the hunt is on! Swap meet tables fill with type, cuts, borders, galleys, books, quoins, presses, and whatnot. Buyers circle the tables all morning, snatching choicest finds first, returning to see what they missed, and in the last throes of the buying frenzy deciding they want that font of 8 point Stymie with only one lower case e after all.

Following lunch it’s the auction, a master performance of salesmanship and standup comedy. The auctioneers roll through the lots, ogling some and trying to figure out what on earth others are. Lots run the gamut from rusty galleys to rare fonts of 19th century wood type. There’s a steady supply of humor throughout and the bargains abound, with a few choice items bid to the skies near the end.

The final treat of the day is the banquet, a chance to enjoy a good meal and good conversation, learn more about printing technique or history from the guest speaker, and maybe if you’re lucky win one of the door prizes. Once again printers talk late into the night.

The next morning trucks, vans, trailers, and flatbeds disperse in all directions, sagging under their loads of metal and cast iron. And with fresh knowledge and inspiration, printers look forward to the Wayzgoose next year!

Warmest thanks to Austin and Jean Jones, hosts of the 2010 Huntington, West Virginia Wayzgoose at Heritage Farm – a great time was had by all!

2010 APA Swap Meet: Ky and Sara Wrzesinski ponder a purchase from Dave and Charlene Churchman, with John Deason looking on.

Auction at the 2010 APA Heritage Wayzgoose: Auctioneers Dave Peat and Dave Churchman work the crowds.

2010 APA Heritage Wayzgoose Hosts Austin and Jean Jones. Thank You!!!


  1. Yes, it is fun ... especially if you're hooked on type. Spending time with other printers is one of the best times you can have!

  2. Do you know where next year's Wayzgoose will be, Carole? I've only been to one – would love to go again.

  3. Yes, the 2011 APA Wayzgoose will be June 23-26 in Lansing, Michigan. Hope to see you there!