Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Antique Letterpress Display Table

Antique Letter Type Display Table

We have always had a fascination for antique printing letters because they are beautifully crafted hard wood covered with years of ink and tales of the past. They are a part of our history and should be preserved as so. The conception of letterpress printing was in Europe in the 15th century. The creator of the reusable, movable type was Johannes Gutenberg. This type of printing stood the test of time by being the main method of printing for over 400 years. It wasn't until the linotype machine was introduced in the late 19th century that a movement away from wood type was made. The linotype machine remains the primary printing method today. As a result, wooden type became orphaned to antique shops, warehouses, flea markets and most recently, E-commerce. There is a large movement to preserve these antique letter type as they remain an important part of the history of printing.

We began collecting random letterpress type years ago when we would visit antique fairs, flea markets, and thrift shops. We knew the importance of not breaking up complete sets, therefore, we would only buy stranglers. Ken's fascination grew into obsession when he began buying up many broken up sets. The end result was that we had a multitude of beautiful antique, or vintage, letter type that rarely resulted in a match up of its kind. The antique letters ranged in different sizes, fonts, age and condition. It made for a wonderful collage of history and beauty.

Being furniture designers, we thought of ways to incorporate these pieces into unique furniture. We came up with a design using a reclaimed steel base and incasing to display a collage of antique letter type. For the sake of preservation and utilization, we covered the table top with 3/16 low iron, tempered glass. After all, this is considered to be a display case because its substrate, the antique letter type, continues to appreciate in value. This is for an individual who wishes to collect and preserve an important part of printing history.

The display table is 22" x 36" and contains 746 authentic antique letterpress letters. They are arranged inside of a three inch tall .25" oxidized steel frame. The letters are not glued in so that their value is not compromised in any way. The type is protected by 3/16" low iron, tempered glass. The table's top rests on a custom frame with 2" legs. The legs have a reclaimed Jatoba feet insert to protect floors. The best part is that the table is designed for safe transport. The top can be removed for shipping and moving purposes.

Photographed without the glass top to show detail

Detailed picture of the reclaimed Jatoba leg inserts

This table is available for purchase. If you are interested or want a custom table, please contact us at hello@studio217.com

This table is now on display at Lost Antiques in the Design District, Dallas.

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