Typesetting on a Winter’s Afternoon

Typesetting on a Winter’s Afternoon

by Raymond Stanley Nelson, Jr.
Edited by Mike Koppa

17 January 2018

(scroll down for 5 January 2019 update)

In brief, this is a manuscript found enclosed in a letter from Stan Nelson, then Curator of the Print and Graphic Arts Collection at the Smithsonian, in 1998. The story has been previously published in Parenthesis No. 3, in May 1999, within a section titled “Fine Presses in the Next Millenium.”

For almost 20 years, Stan’s story has been in mind as something that would make a fun book project. The shop had been idle in storage since 2004, and finally resurrected in its new home, dubbed Der Klubhaus at Holy Hollow, in 2016. Seasonal employment allows The Heavy Duty Press to be active only in the winter months, and serendipitously, Typesetting on a Winter’s Afternoon has become the perfect project to resurrect the letterpress operation.

With permission, the original story has been slightly edited, omitting some of the more bleak perspectives regarding the outlook for the fine press movement in 1999. True to the title, the typesetting has been conducted on a handful of winter afternoons. First proofs were pulled in February 2017, with very satisfactory results. Now, a year later, typesetting edits are complete, a prototype book with cover has been built, and printing will begin on the first stretch of weather fair enough to be able to vent the clubhouse.

Please send your name and address if you would like to receive a prospectus for this book.

A brief photo documentary of the process follows, but you may also follow the progress of this project and other creative adventures on the Tumblr blog. This site will be updated less frequently.

Thank you for looking.



January 2017, type locked up for pulling proofs



January 2018, cover design development



January 2018, deconstructing the bible for parts to build the covers



January 2018, discovery of a living bookworm in the binding during deconstruction



January 2018, tending to the proofs, in particular a bad em dash



January 2018, new em dash cut from 1 pt rule cast on 6 pt slug


5 January 2019

Printing began on 1 March 2018. Most of the printing had been completed by the end of March, and then put on hold while the cemetery lettering season opened up. The Winding Roads Art Tour allowed for another couple days of printing in late May, when everything but the final run of red ink (one page only) was completed. Cemetery lettering ended in mid-November as usual, and December was gobbled up by the opening of picture framing service at the Viroqua Public Market on Main Street in the hometown. The last of the printing snuck in before the Winter Solstice, and then, of course, the usual time given to celebrating Christmas with family. The cutting of the sheets (by hand held knife), and the folding of the folios started during the final week of 2018, and finished on 3 January 2019. As of this morning, the Author’s Bio folios have arrived safely in Stan‘s hands, and will be returned signed next week, whereafter the binding process shall begin.

With only the binding and the manufacture of the covers remaining to be done, the intention is to have the edition completed and ready for sale at the Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair on Saturday, 9 March 2019. This is an exciting first-ever appearance for The Heavy Duty Press at the Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair, and it would be a real treat and surprise if someone were to show up at the table and comment that they have been following the project on this website. In fact, for those who have been following here, how about a 50% discount off the price of the book to the first person to mention the offer? Sure. Let’s do it.

And once again, if you’d like to receive a prospectus, or to reserve yourself a copy, please send your name and address promptly.

Thank you for your interest in this project.


1 March 2018, lock-up for printing the black ink of the title page.



23 March 2018, printing snowflakes on the title page.



5 May 2018, the appendix/colophon folio, with black, silver, and light blue inks printed.



21 May 2018, title page on the cylinder of the Vandercook Press, as the bronze/brown acorn weights and hands of the clock are printed.



12 December 2018, final run: ATTENTION REQUESTED! with red ink on one page only.



28 December 2018, precision folding of the precisely machine-cut UV/ULTRA folios made easier by the neat little IKEA light gifted to me by my daughter, not knowing how helpful it would be. Serendipitous, cosmic, etc.



28 December 2018, all folios of Zerkall Book cut and folded, alongside 7 of the 12 folios on the translucent UV/ULTRA, waiting for collation.