Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Schori Press

One of the most interesting and delightful people I met as a child through my father’s association with letterpress was Ward Schori. Ward and his wife Marty lived in Evanston, Illinois when I first met them in the early 1960s. Ward ran a commercial printing business there called The Schori Press, but was also an enthusiastic letterpress hobbyist.

Enthusiasm was a defining term for Ward. He loved letterpress printing in its every aspect: designing and printing books, booklets, and ephemera; acquiring new type and cuts; and talking with others about printing.

Ward loved to talk, and he talked with his hands. I vividly remember riding in Ward’s car as he drove the freeways of Chicago, periodically taking his hands off the wheel to emphasize a point as he talked with my dad in the front seat. The mixture of enjoyment of Ward’s stories and absolute terror at the way he drove is something that will always stick with me. If the hands-free driving got a little too scary, Marty would gently chide him, “Now Ward, pay attention to the road.” That would last about five minutes, then Ward would be talking with his hands again.

Marty herself was a delight to know. An elegant woman with white hair in a French twist, she had a beautiful smile and a hearty laugh. I loved her wink, which she’d send my way every now and then. By the time I met them, Ward and Marty were grandparents. They raised their two grandchildren, who were about the same age as my sister and myself.

Together with my father Gary Hantke and his printing friend Emerson Wulling, Ward was a key organizer of the 1st Amalgamated Printers Association Wayzgoose in 1961. In those days the host provided food for the convention’s “picnic” that took place on Sunday. So Ward roasted a big turkey on his barbeque grill while Marty made side dishes, beverages, and dessert for all the printers in attendance.

At my first Wayzgoose in 1964 in Munster, Indiana, Ward encouraged me to enter the typesetting contest on the lawn in front of the motel. A case of type was set up on the tailgate of someone’s station wagon, and printers were timed as they set copy by hand, one letter and one space at a time. I was pretty young yet so I didn’t end up entering the contest, but I felt proud that Ward had believed in me.

In addition to regular sized books (he printed several), Ward became well known for his letterpress printed miniatures. He created over fifty of these intricate books, including some bound in hand-tooled leather from Spain. My husband and I are happy to have half a dozen Schori Press miniatures on our bookshelf today.

Part of the joy of being a hobby letterpress printer is getting to know other hobby letterpress printers. Ward and Marty Schori certainly stand out in my memory as two people I met through letterpress that I was privileged to know.

Title page of The Fortsas Bibliohoax, a private press book published by Ward Schori in 1986.

Six Schori Press miniature books and the full sized book "Printshop Nostalgia", all printed by Ward.

With the Schoris at the 1991 Wayzgoose in St. Louis, as we board the excursion boat "Belle of St. Louis". From left to right, Ward Schori, my husband Bob, Marty Schori, me, and my mother Ruth Hantke. Dad has just passed away the previous year.


  1. You sure have met some interesting, nice folks in the letterpress business. How nice.

  2. That seems to be one of the benefits of being involved with letterpress -- you meet wonderful people!