More Weight!

Micah’s is a old time Baltimore soul food buffet with legendarily cheesy macaroni — and commercials. A classic one features a chubby spokesman chirping: “I got a weight problem … I can’t wait to get to Micah’s!”

Well, welcome to the letterpress buffet, where your friends Mary and Shop Boy are gobbling up cast-off machines as if they were fried chicken. We like ’em cheap and greasy. And with trays and trays of lead type on the side. Mmmmm, good. We just can’t push ourselves away from the table.

Where’d the hunger come from? In the beginning, Typecast Press was a lean operation. Back then, it was still just Typecast, a graphic design business. Heck, Shop Boy hadn’t even been born. He was still known as the Guy Who Brings the Gin and Tonics (the importance of which will soon become apparent). We’d taken a Vandercook class at the Center for the Book Arts in New York. Set the type by hand. We loved it, and thought we might just get us one of them machines some day. Maybe rent a little garage space and stick a teeny-weeny press in there and print up a few of Mary’s designs for friends.

Then one night, after a visit — or two — from the GWBG+T, Mary drunk-dialed eBay. (Do not try this at home.) And there it was … 1,200 pounds of rusting metal. Vandercook. Love Potion No. 3. One hour left to bid. Should we? Shouldn’t we? Our hearts said yes. Our brains said … not much actually. With the lack of a dissenting vote, the measure passed. We drank to our success.

It wasn’t till late the next morning that we asked ourselves: “Where do we put it?”

You know how it goes from here: Find a friend kind enough to offer a corner of his studio. We got a tip that a C&P was available from a pressman’s widow. Sweet! A little Kelsey, just right for business cards. Snack time! A smaller Vandercook, this one stored under a leaking drainpipe in a printshop’s basement. Yes! Guy wants a Miehle Vertical gone from his modernizing printing plant. It’s free if you’ll move it. Delicious! (Where does a 6,600-pound press sit? Anywhere it wants … anywhere with concrete floors, that is.) Find another kind friend with a studio.

Ahhh. Now we’re full.

(But of course, we’ve left room for dessert. Better warn any friends with studio space that there are letterpress gluttons about.)

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