A carton appeared in my mailbox late Friday afternoon, a good time for a treat. I opened it and found these:
Also in the box was a letter from Terry Belanger of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. This program, which Terry founded, had its start at Columbia back in the 1970s. And during that time, Rare Book School borrowed a Washington hand press, made by R. Hoe & Co. in 1843, from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, in order to give future rare book librarians a chance to try out printing by hand.
Terry reports that the finials “had long been stored off the press, which was in active use, because they kept falling off.” When RBS moved to Charlottesville in 1992, they returned the press to RBML, but inadvertently carried off the finials with their other collections. During RBS’s renovation project this year, Barbara Heritage discovered the finials, packaged them up, and our press is now made whole again.
The cast iron Washington Press, one of four printing presses in our collections, was given to RBML by the American Bible Society in 1953 to compliment our large collections in printing history. It stands in the reading room next to a slightly older wooden hand press, where you can visit it any time RBML is open.