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Welcome to the well pressed, timeless allure of Woodside Press


ocated in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the home to a strange assemblage of artists, craftsmen, old school Brooklyn hangers-on and young upstart urban farmers, Woodside Press is in a high-floor corner of a massive 11-story building that was built for World War I. Looking out over the East River onto Manhattan from the southern tip of the island, up past the Williamsburg Bridge, to the United Nations the view from this place is breathtaking but it’s what inside that counts. New York City’s leading facility for hot-metal typography, with Linotype and Ludlow typecasting machines and an impressive range of classic and decorative typefaces Woodside Press was founded back in 1993 by Andy Birsh in Woodside, Queens and in 1998 moved into their space in Building 3.

Linotype Slugs

Since then they have built an unparalleled collection of late 19th and 20th century printing type, including foundry type to set by hand, a huge variety of wooden type for posters and headlines and an array of Linotype and Ludlow hot-metal typefaces. This traditional letterpress printing studio will create printed items of the highest quality for individual, business, and institutional clients alike offering typesetting and type-reproduction services to the graphic-design community. “We have printing presses to suit any kind of letterpress printing project from large-volume runs of business cards to posters up to 18” x 24” in any quantity” is stated in the about page of their site. Having worked for many New York City institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Juilliard School, and the Museum of Modern Art (it is in fact, their handset metal type that became the basis for the iconic MoMA logo that adorns the front of 2004 museum building in midtown Manhattan), Woodside Press will work also with individuals to design and print customized wedding invitations, business cards, and personal stationery sets. 

New York City’s leading facility for hot-metal typography, with Linotype and Ludlow typecasting machines and an impressive range of typefaces Woodside Press is a treasure to hold

“There is, in short, no project we won’t consider taking on” they say. After all, Davin Kuntze of Woodside Press muses on the need for more letterpress in the world. “In general use we have seven presses. There is the C&P treadle press that came from the American Typefounders Company; two C&P Craftsman presses (one for printing and one for scoring and perfing); a Windmill for longer jobs; a Heidlberg KSB; and finally two Vandercooks, a Universal III for poster work, when we get it, and an SP20 that we use almost exclusively for proofing type” he says. “In addition to that we have a number of random presses in various states of repair, mostly small format platen presses that no one seems to want these days.”

“Trying to explain to a client why I have to charge them more if they want to see a different typeface when I’ve already set their entire invitation in another typeface is hard,” he noted but letterpress is a one of a kind individualised and hands-on experience. The answer to the digital fatigue of a click-and-go design production line, is given here every day, in Woodside’s 5,000 square-foot shop which is filled with equipment, much of which has been acquired over the years from print shops and factories that have gone out of business. “Part of the genesis for the company was the collapse American Type Founders, based in Elizabeth, NJ, which had been the preeminent manufacturer of typefaces and printing presses in the US. Their bankruptcy prompted a fire sale, at which Andy was able to acquire a number the presses that are still in Woodside’s shop today” says Andrew Gustafson. “Though the collection pales to what you might find in a printshop 150 years ago, with millions of well-organized pieces, Woodside had assembled an impressive catalogue that has few peers in the US” he adds on this shrine of a process that has barely changed since its invention by Johannes Gutenberg over 500 years ago and is having the renaissance it deserves.

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