Friday, September 25, 2009

A tour of the Government Printing Office

I recently got a chance to tour GPO. I almost didn't go... I had no idea it would be so cool.

I have a love of old-fashioned printing techniques, which I supposed originated with my Uncle Doug (I still have the print tray he gave me hanging in my house). Later I worked as a typeshop attendent at RISD.

Anyway, here are some photos of the stuff I loved (I didn't bother taking pictures of any of the modern equipment). The tour guide explained that this shop is one of the few left in the country that still use these hand techniques.

Type drawers filled with metal type.

I've never seen such ornate drawer pulls.

Here's a plate that used to apply the gold leaf to books like the one below.

Each cover is constucted and stamped by hand -- amazing.

A big, well-used dictionary used to check spelling.

This guy is getting ready to marble the edge of books. He spashes the paint in a pan of water (and other stuff), until he gets the pattern he wants...

then he carefully dips the book into the ink.

Here are some examples of the finished product. Love it!

I was continuously distracted by the floors. They're comprised of 2" x 4" x 6', so the floor is 6 feet tall! This was done to accomodate all the heavy presses and other equipment. Gorgeous.

The tile floors in the entrance were equally as captivating.

The tour ended in the bookstore, where lo and behold... it's my book! This is the report that I've worked on for the past nine years. Silly, but it was exciting to see it.