Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Printer's Knickknacks

Normally I’m not a fan of knickknacks that sit on a shelf and gather dust. But printer’s knickknacks are an entirely different thing. My husband and I have a small collection of whatnot items in our print shop that help to make the shop our own. True, they do gather dust, but....

Benjamin Franklin, that much admired printer and founding father, has a prominent place in our printing knickknack collection. We have a small bust of him, and a Ben Franklin “action figure” holding a kite with a key. We would rather have Ben holding a composing stick, but oh well. He has a miniature type case, but the compartments aren’t the right size – too even. To compensate we display “action figure Ben” next to a miniature common press which my dad got as a souvenir from the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz. Close by is a picture of my husband with Ben Franklin’s original press – the press was featured in an exhibit on Franklin at the museum where Bob works.

On the same shelf are pieces of type with jets that we cast; a Babcock Press paperweight; a miniature printing office, the “Liberty Falls Daily News”; Wayzgoose souvenirs, buttons, badges, and a typewriter ball; and in a small box, an 8 point piece of type with the entire Lord’s Prayer on it. This “Lord’s Prayer on a piece of type” was a promotional giveaway from American Type Founders, a huge American type founding firm. The words are actually legible under a strong magnifying glass.

Not to be forgotten are the pictures. We have a framed shot of my father Gary Hantke at the 1984 Wayzgoose in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Dad was in his glory there, having finally lured the Amalgamated Printers Association convention to our hometown. Wearing his APA cap and a shirt with reproductions from the MacKellar, Smiths, and Jordan specimen book, he beams out at us. Next to the picture of Dad, there’s a picture of my husband and myself at the 1994 Wayne, Michigan Wayzgoose, and a little trophy labeled “Famous Printer”, which of course we have to display.

Probably my favorite printer’s knickknack is one sewn by my mother and embellished by my dad: a printer’s doll, Cabbage Patch style. During the height of the Cabbage Patch craze, my parents produced 2 or 3 of these “printer’s dolls” for sale at a Wayzgoose. My mom sewed and stuffed the doll to look like a stocky guy with questionable fashion taste, adding checked pants, a polyester shirt, a visor and a printer’s apron. My dad created a miniature composing stick and line gauge for the doll, and printed “I Like to Print” on the apron. Needless to say, we are not parting with this particular knickknack soon.

Most of the stuff in our print shop is highly functional. But our printer’s knickknacks add a unique touch, showing who we are and where we’ve been. Personally, I couldn’t do without them!

One more knickknack, actually functional but too small to use much -- a miniature press. The platen on this one is 2 1/2 by 4 inches.


  1. I love the printer's doll! I didn't know your mom made that...what a great keepsake!

  2. Yes, we're happy to have the printer's doll -- it's special since both my parents worked on creating it, and cute besides.