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letterpress posters


Raptors and Wood Type Fun

Hawk Poster on press


Warm Greetings from St Brigid Press!

Well, it's that time of year again -- the cooling days of late summer and early fall that provide the impetus for some of the most spectacular mass-movements of species on the planet:  the annual migration of hawks and other raptors from North America to Central and South America. Those of us in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains are fortunate to live along a major flyway -- the updrafts along the spine of the mountains support a bird highway from Canada and New England south toward the Gulf of Mexico. And Rockfish Gap, near our home in Afton, Virginia, is one of the best locations in the East to watch this magnificent flow of raptors.

To commemorate the birds and the hundreds of people who gather to witness them, I spent the last week joyfully rummaging through the 20+ cases of wood type here at the Press. Most of the type was made in the US between 1875 and 1910, and still in very good condition. The idea for the design this year came from the list of raptors that the official Hawk Watch Counters tally -- there are fourteen species for which they scan the skies, from Broad-winged Hawks (the most numerous) to the rare Mississippi Kite. Other species include Ospreys, Falcons, Eagles, and many different kinds of Hawks. I set the names of all fourteen raptor species in various typefaces of wood type, creating a fun collage of avians.

Each poster is hand-inked and printed on the Potter Proofing Press (circa 1915, Chicago). Paper is Stonehenge Rising Fawn, with oil-based ink in either deep blue or deep green, in 12"x18" size. The posters were printed in a limited edition of 35, all signed and numbered. Each is backed by stiff board and sleeved in protective archival plastic. Price: $30 each, with 20% of the proceeds being donated by St Brigid Press to The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia. To purchase, go to the St Brigid Press Online Store.

With thanks, and enjoy the beautiful days!

St Brigid Press

[ For more information about hawk migration, go to ]

Beginning to assemble the names of 14 raptor species, in various typefaces and sizes of vintage wood type. Quite the challenging puzzle!

St Brigid Press is honored to have collected over 20 cases of wood type, most made in the United States between 1875 and 1910.

Checking and rechecking the fit of the type forme, making sure each letter and space are snugly in their place.

Getting the ink well-distributed on the roller.

Rolling the ink carefully over the type forme.

Checking and rechecking the final proof.

Signing, numbering, and packaging the 2013 Hawk Watch Poster.



Acquisitions and Migrations

Warm Autumn greetings from St Brigid Press! It's been a blustery couple of months here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. All that wind has pushed thousands of hawks south on their annual migration, and we've had the pleasure of watching some of them. Rockfish Gap, at milepost 1 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a prime location for spotting migratory hawks and other raptors -- Broadwing hawks, in particular, "kettle" (a term describing their spiraling formation in thermals of warm air) and stream overhead by the thousands, joined by the occasional bald eagle, falcon, osprey, and others. Veteran birders and neophyte's alike gather each September at the Afton Inn to scan the skies for these gorgeous birds.

To commemorate this year's Hawk Watch, St Brigid Press created a limited edition of 10 hand-pulled posters, in the old Western "Wanted" poster style. It was great fun, and gave a chance to play with SBP's newest acquisition: a tall antique cabinet filled with vintage wood type.

The wood type collection is comprised of 20-plus drawers (called "cases") of fonts, varying in size and style. Most were made in the United States between about 1880 and 1920, and range from the 5" tall letters of a chunky sans serif to the 1" tall elegance of almost calligraphic script. We are thrilled with the opportunity to care for and use this precious collection. Stay tuned for more printed matter using wood type!