The Printing Museum ( Inc.) began life over 30 years ago when a group of enthusiasts and professional printers began collecting items of historical and industrial interest. This was at a time when the era of letterpress, the method of printing by mechanical impression that Johannes Gutenberg had perfected in the fifteenth century, was coming to an end. Had it not been for their foresight, many of these wonderful machines - some of which are now listed items of historical interest - would have been lost for ever.
Fast forward thirty years and The Printing Museum has entered a new phase. Despite digital domination, there has been a huge revival of interest in letterpress, particularly in the United States and Britain. Letterpress Museums and Book Arts Centres have sprung up in major cities around the world. While attracting enthusiasts of all ages, the new wave of letterpress and book arts devotees are often young designers and artists curious of the origins of typography and seeking artistic relief from the ubiquity of flat print.
The Museum's operates mainly from a WWII depot behind Upper Hutt. The "bunker" houses a Linotype, three Monotype Casters, a Nebitype, Elrod and Ludlow while the printery has available two Albions, a Furnival stop-cylinder, several platens and a Vandercoook SP-15 for classes and demonstrations. The main warehouse contains the bulk of the collection, seven more linecasters, large presses, guillotines, folders, a typewriter collection and numerous other items. In late 2019, the museum opened the WCBA, the Wellington Centre for Book Arts, in central Wellington.
The new centre, with bindery, printery and composing room, offers classes in the book arts and acts as a showroom and community workshop.
The long-term vision is to find a large permanent building in central Wellington—a combination of working printing museum, book arts centre, community workshop, specialised printery and type foundry that will be a national and international attraction. It will also be a fitting home for these national taonga - fortuitously collected and painstakingly restored over so many years. For a copy of our concept document, please click here.
1852 Harrild Albion
Falcon Reel Fed Press
Wharfedale Stop Cylinder
Monotype Super Caster
Smyth Sewing Machine
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© The Printing Museum 2014
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