Over the weekend Patrick and I went to what became his new favorite museum, The International Printing Museum. Patrick has always been entranced letterpress and print making, and the interest turned passion after taking a letterpress course in college, so when he found out about the International Printing Museum we knew a pilgrimage had to be made.
Before we peek into the museum, I’ll show of what a wore, as well as this gorgeous hand painted sign in their parking lot…
The International Printing Museum is home to dozens of antique printing presses of varying styles through the centuries. A visit includes a guided tour, lasting an hour, where you learn the history of print making, and how it revolutionized society around the world.
The highlight of the visit was witnessing a linotype machine in action. If you are unfamiliar with print making, in the days of old, text was printed using movable type, individual block letters akin to a stamp. Each piece of movable type would have to be hand placed into the type form, and it was a very, very tedious task. Then the linotype machine arrived on the scene in the late 19th century, where one could simply type what they wanted, and the text would be cast right then and there, producing what is known as a “slug” and, once cooled, the slug would be placed into the type form to print whatever was needed. This became the standard for newspapers across the country until the the late 1960s and early 1970s. And as we were informed, when the Los Angeles Times quit using linotype in the 70s, most were shoved out the window, crashing below to be then hauled off for scrap. So, to find one in working order is a true treasure. And thanks to the International Printing Museum you get to take home your very own linotype “slug”
The group of docent volunteer at the museum is amazing, and each is so enthusiastic about printing, and it shines through as they talk about and showcase print making through the centuries. So if you ever find yourself in the Los Angeles area, and you are interested in print making or print history, I highly recommend visiting. The International Printing Museum is only open on Saturdays, and for special events throughout the year, some of which we are already planning on going to. Learn more by visiting their website.