Saturday, 1 March 2014

An extraordinary day

There was nothing about the morning of Friday 21st February to suggest it would be an extraordinary day. I was up early, as usual with three small children. I showered, feed them, made lunches and raced out the door.

After school drop off I had arranged to meet Des Lane, who I met at The Finders Keepers markets in December of last year. We were on our way to view a treadle operated, platen letterpress that The Penrith Printing Museum was unable to accept. Rather than see this letterpress reduced to scrap metal, Des gave me a call to find out if I was still looking for a press.

We knew very little about the press we were about to see, except that it was labelled Cowans Silent Rapid. What we found was a press in excellent condition, enough metal type to service any print shop, lead furniture, quoins & keys, composing sticks, and so much more. At the heart of all this was Alex, an extremely passionate printer/owner.

As it turns out Alex and I share a similar past, both having left our homeland of Chile for a better life in Australia about 40 years ago. Fortunately for Alex, his passion for his profession as a printer, never saw him have to work as a janitor, cleaner or factory line worker as my parents and many other immigrants with very little options have had to at one time or another.
A short while after arriving in Australia, Alex and his wife invested in this letterpress and put it to work, first out of their garage and then out of a retail space in Parramatta. It was to become their livelihood for the next 30+ years, providing the home that they now live in, an education for their children and a very fulfilling life for Alex and Juanita.

Alex hung his printers apron about 10 years ago and is now off on another adventure, which unfortunately means he has to part with his beloved Cowans.

This machine must be at least 100 years old. There is no manual. I don't know who made it. I don't know where it is originally from or how old it is. But I do know that this press and I will have a long life together.

Today we move everything but the Cowans to The Little Paper House Press HQ. The Cowans will be moved by hired professionals next week. Cant wait!

I cannot express how grateful I am to have met Des Lane, who made all of this possible, and to Alex and Juanita, who are so thrilled that the press has found its way into my life.

There are very few moments in my life where things have just occurred as if by something greater and this is one of them :)

The treadle on the Cowans.

Just some of the lead furniture

Metal type draws

The Cowans. 8.5 X 12 inch platen, 3 forme rollers.

Alex and I in his workshop :)

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