Letterpress printing studio of Pinwheel Press

STUDIO

Pinwheel Press is the Seattle letterpress print studio of proprietor Laura Bentley. Laura attended her first letterpress class in 2008 at the School of Visual Concepts. It was love at first print, and she hasn’t looked back since.

The work at Pinwheel Press focuses on limited-edition prints and fine stationery using the traditional tools of the craft of letterpress printing. Work is primarily produced with hand-set metal and wood type printed on two in-house antique printing presses.

Laura cherishes a growing type collection that includes metal and wood type from the 1880s. Her interest in where and when a font was made has led to a collection of books on type foundries and vintage type catalogs, and she can’t resist a game of “What is this type?” Follow her on Instagram for #typecatalogtuesday.

Part of preserving the craft, is sharing it with others. Laura often assists with letterpress classes at the School of Visual Concepts and has helped many a student to decipher their p’s from their q’s.


Equipment

 Gordon platen printing press from 1863.

PHINEAS | Gordon platen press

This very early platen press is a Gordon Franklin Job Press manufactured in 1863 by the man who invented this style of printing press. George Phineas Gordon claimed the idea of the platen press was described to him by Benjamin Franklin in a dream!

Printers will note that this press lacks a throw-off lever. Yep, not yet invented in 1863. At over 150 year old, this press runs best at a slow speed, but then again we think anything that saw the end of the Civil War is allowed to run a little slow.

 Vandercook SP-15 cylinder printing press

BEATRICE | Vandercook sp-15

Beatrice, named for Beatrice Warde, is a model SP-15 cylinder press created by Vandercook & Sons, Inc. Manufactured in the Chicago area it came to Seattle via Indiana and Oregon after 48 years in Sweden.

Yes, its original 1964 sales receipt shows it was sold to a distributor in Stockholm, and it has a .928" bed (US type-high is .918), proving it was made for the export market. We're guessing Beatrice printed a lot of Ös, and heard a lot of ABBA during her time in Sweden. So much so, we're wondering if she should have a Swedish name?

 

 Challenge guillotine paper cutter from 1903.

Mr. Sharp | paper cutter

This sixteen-inch guillotine-style paper cutter was manufactured by The Challenge Machinery Company in the early 1900s. It is missing its original safety mechanism and now sports a very "fancy" 2x4 as a replacement.