Raftsman’s Journal and Taproot Kitchen

Today – in addition to going to the Centre Region Council of Governments Executive Committee meeting (brief notes in following post) – I worked on printmaking for the calendars Owl & Turtle Press will be selling on December 3 at the Taproot Kitchen Winter Craft & Food Fair.

I also pulled a draft print for Taproot Kitchen logo labels I’m making on commission, for the Taproot Kitchen crew to put on jars of homemade soups and such. Still needs some final clean-up carving of the linoleum block.


This morning, I drove out to Julian Woods, to meet Tom Barr at the Community Woodworks. Barr is clearing out some tools, and offered five printers’ composing sticks from a print shop in Osceola Mills on Freecycle yesterday.


Over the past four years or so, I’ve built a printing press and equipped it with chase, quoins, quoin keys, furniture, type, composing sticks, ink, brayers and other tools, to be able to publish small community newspapers without Internet, computer printers and electric photocopiers.

When I got to Julian Woods, and let (news hound) Pepper out of the car to sniff around the woodworking shop, Barr told me the story of how he came to have the composing sticks.

He said he went to an auction of a print shop in Osceola Mills almost 20 years ago. The print shop itself hadn’t operated for 50 years by that time, and most of the equipment was rusted and dirty.

He bid on a “you pick” lot, and for $12.50 he chose a bound book. It turned out to be early editions of the Raftsman’s Journal, a newspaper published in Clearfield County for the raftsmen who – during flood season – rode lumber down from Central Pennsylvania timber stands, along Clearfield Creek and the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, to east coast markets. The newspaper started printing in 1854, and continued until about 1948. Barr later sold the book to Penn State, where it’s now in the rare books collection.

And today, I got some of the composing sticks, for future typeset editions of Bailiwick News.


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