Letterpress films with the in-laws

Debbie and I, the co-owners of Boxcar Press, found ourselves for a week in Chicagoland visiting her parents last week. While the kids ran amuck upstairs, Debbie’s father and I combed through the basement looking for films on printing. Larry Urbanski, as it happens, owns the largest film archive in the Midwest, and his basement is filled wall-to-wall (and floor-to-ceiling) with stacks of printing films. “Looking for films” involves skirting on tip-toes through stacks of precariously stacked film cases with flashlight in hand, hoping to find a gem.

Well, despite hours combing through a small portion of the basement, I didn’t find anything related to printing. Freight trains? Yes. 1898 footage of NYC subway construction? Yes. 1950’s dating advice? Yes. Nothing on printing in all my searching. It was quite fun and I hope that someday Larry and I can visit his 5,000 square foot warehouse of film in downtown Chicago to spend a few days combing there.

But thankfully Larry had two already pulled aside from the archive when we arrived. Larry took the time to help transfer the one below from 16mm film to a disk, then I got this in format to share with you. This film is about Ginn and Company, a large textbook publisher. The first 9 minutes are a little slow, but you can skip ahead to watch the printing and bookbinding of a textbook on 1925 equipment. I found the machinery and craftsmen & craftswomen very interesting to watch. Grab some popcorn and enjoy!

Ginn and Company (Athenaeum Press), 1925 from Harold Kyle on Vimeo.

Also, he had pulled another film called Newspaper Story, from 1950. This movie shows a lot of interesting footage from the Rockford, Illinois newspaper at the time. The parts that weren’t about printing were even worth watching. Here’s the video courtesy of archive.org:

Here’s hoping that the Moviecraft archive can continue to produce printing films to share on future visits to the in-laws!

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