1905 press back in business
May 30, 2005
Steamboat Springs — It sat as a pile of unwanted metal for more than 20 years.
In a storage shed in Billings, Mont., the 1905 Chandler and Price letterpress collected a thick layer of oily dust. After years in the pressroom of the Billings newspaper, it had outlived its usefulness.
Meanwhile, 35-year-old Christy Borden was staying up late. She sat on her computer in Steamboat Springs surfing the Internet with no real purpose.
While typing in random searches on eBay, she stumbled across a small, hobby size letterpress. She put in a bid.
“There are probably a lot of eBay-launched hobbies out there,” she said.
Between then and the time Borden heard from a distant relative in Montana that a cast-iron letterpress was on its way to be sold for scrap metal, Borden became deeply interested in hand printing. She had been making greeting cards for friends with her hobby press and was ready to experiment with something larger.
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The 1906 Chandler and Price letterpress was delivered to her house in Old Town Steamboat with a forklift.
It took her two years to get the press cleaned and put back together. It came with drawers of plates and letters from its days at the Billings newspaper.
Custom letter plates are still set in the wording of often run newspaper ads. One reads, “Have guns will travel.”
Last month, Borden finally got the press in working condition. She cranks a huge wheel and an ink-stained plate slowly meets a piece of paper.
With books, Internet listserv resources and a few visits to printers in Denver, Borden is teaching herself a dying art.
She is in the process of starting her own printing business, Strike Press Design and Studio. She plans to make unique invitations, stationary and books, and hopes that local artists will step forward with collaborations.
Borden, who grew up in Steamboat, left for New York to pursue a career as a graphic designer. She returned to town to raise her two kids, Eloise and Miles.
“With Web design, things are so temporary,” she said. “I like making things that you can hold in your hand.”
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