Typesetting on a Winter's Afternoon

Typesetting on a Winter's Afternoon



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  • Handmade
  • Materials: paper, ink, linen thread, bees wax

By Raymond Stanley Nelson, Jr.
Edited and illustrated by Mike Koppa
Limited edition of 26 copies, signed by the author and the artist

Stan’s manuscript, previously published in Parenthesis No. 3 (May 1999), cleverly includes many terms of the trade, and is presented here on translucent pages of tightly registered cascading text blocks. True to the story, the pages of the book (type and illustrations) were hand-set (and printed, and bound) through three successive winters of afternoons. The non-adhesive binding and one-of-a-kind covers feature folios from the 1923 Specimen Book and Catalog of The American Type Founders Company.

16.5 x 11.5 cm; 80 of 92 pages printed. Hand set in ATF Century Oldstyle and Huxley Vertical metal type, and hand printed in black, sky blue, silver, and bronze inks with Vandercook SP-15 s.n. 29950. Illustrated with hand set ornamental sorts and rules, and 4 antique magnesium cuts.

Each book is composed of eight folios of Zerkall Book Laid, two of Zerkall Ingres (Bluest), one Zerkall Litho, and thirteen Classic Crest uv/ultra II, hand bound by coptic stitch. Strategic arrangement and precise hand folding of the folios combine with tight registration on the press to create cascading three-dimensional text areas.

Based squarely on 320+ shop hours and the cost of materials, the price per signed and numbered copy of this patiently designed, hand crafted book, limited to just 26 copies, is set at $525.

Review a book without obligation. If your expectations are not fulfilled, simply return the book in mint condition, post-marked within ten days of receipt, and your money will be refunded upon inspection and approval.

Twenty-plus years prior to the book's completion, I mailed a letter to Stan Nelson at the Smithsonian Institution, inquiring about the availability of matrices for a specific typeface I hoped to have cast. Along with his reply, he enclosed the manuscript for an unpublished story he had written about typesetting by hand. I liked it, and imagined it would make a great book project some day.

The Heavy Duty Press went cold in 2004, when my wife and I relocated from the shores of Lake Michigan to the driftless region of southwest Wisconsin. It remained in storage for ten years, as we established new roots, raised children, and eventually created a new home for the press.

As I unpacked the press in 2014, I found a small collection of manuscripts saved for potential projects, and Stan's story was among them. It was the obvious choice to re-establish The Heavy Duty Press in Liberty, Wisconsin. Thanks to his inspiration, the words have been made manifest in my life, and are presented here in book form, for others to experience.

Raymond (Stan) Nelson, Jr. is an artist, printmaker, and typographer. Stan worked for thirty-one years in the Graphics Collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. As one facet of his fascination with printing, he has mastered all aspects of traditional typefounding, which include the arts of punch cutting, matrix fitting, and mould making (a noteworthy 55 of his own moulds to date). In retirement, Stan continues to pursue the skills and the history of the black arts at his Atelier Press & Letter Foundry in the wilds of Charles Town, West Virginia.


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Dec 9-12

Dec 1

Order placed

After you place your order, TheHeavyDutyPress will take 3-5 business days to prepare it for shipment.

Dec 4-8

Order ships

TheHeavyDutyPress puts your order in the mail.

Dec 9-12


Estimated to arrive at your doorstep Dec 9-12!

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Ships from Viroqua, WI
Mike Koppa

Mike Koppa

Owner of TheHeavyDutyPress

Message Mike

2 shop reviews 5 out of 5 stars


jtobiasbearss Nov 18, 2020

5 out of 5 stars

This sticker is so cool!

Purchased item:

Cameron Lloyd Nov 26, 2020

Listed on Oct 25, 2020