Behind the scenes
On a recent trip to Wellington I was fortunate enough to visit Wai-te-ata Press at the University of Victoria with local letterpress printer Brendan O'Brien.
Wai-te-ata is a bibliographical press which focuses on teaching students; language, design and artists amongst others, the ins and outs of printing with letterpress. And what a set up they have, no fewer than 3 working cast iron handpresses accompanied with several cylinder presses which are backed up by what can only be described as an incredible collection of metal and wooden type.
But the press that really caught my eye was this Stanhope. The Stanhope was the first printing press to be built using cast iron and first model was produced around 1800. The Stanhope was a major shift from the wooden presses that had been in use since the 1450s. Very few Stanhope presses have survived world-wide and it is amazing to see one on display and still in use at Wai-te-ata Press.
Wai-te-ata was established by Professor Don McKenzie in 1962 so it's celebrating 50 years this year, quite a milestone. It is now under the directorship of Dr Sydney Shep and well worth a visit if you happen to be on Victoria University campus. You can see an example of printing from Wai-te-ata Press currently on display in Pressed Letters: Fine Printing in New Zealand since 1975 at the Peterborough Street Library. Check out their web site.