Information Update - Fall 2012

A Print Off the Old Block: Letterpress Printing the Library's Christmas Card

In 2010, the Zaner-Bloser Company donated a rich collection of 19th and early 20th century penmanship materials to the Weinberg Memorial Library's Special Collections. In addition to original artwork by the masters of the Golden Age of Penmanship, the collection also includes a set of engraved printing blocks, used to reproduce and publish the artists' engrossings.
Library's Christmas CardIn order to highlight the beauty and detail of the Zaner-Bloser Collection, the Weinberg Memorial Library has partnered with Clarks Summit-based letterpress studio Hand Deliver Press ( to put some of the Collection's printing blocks back into action.
The 2012 edition of the Weinberg Memorial Library Christmas card, mailed annually to members of the Library's advisory committees, is our first completed project. Special Collections Librarian Michael Knies selected for the card a hundred-year-old printing block based on a holiday-themed pen and ink drawing by master penman E. L. Brown. The block had been used to publish Brown's artwork in the December 1912 issue of The Business Educator, a professional penmanship journal.
The Business Educator
"The Christmas design shows what effect can be obtained with a coarse pen and black ink," Brown noted in a Business Educator column accompanying his work. "The ice effect on initial 'C' and the snow on bows suggest winter, and Old Santa's face reminds us of the mid-winter holiday season, of Christmas presents and good cheer."
Hand Deliver Press owner Samantha Urbanick made prints from the block using a Vandercook SP-20 press from the 1960s. Samantha chose Reich cotton paper for the card and matched the ink to the deep maroon used in the Library's logo. The back of the card explains its origin and features the Zaner-Bloser Collection logo, designed by Digital Services student assistant April Francia.
Visit the Zaner-Bloser Collection website ( for additional information about the Collection and the letterpress printing process.
—Kristen Yarmey
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