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01 MICA | dolphin letterpress

DOLPHIN LETTERPRESS 3 credits. Staff. Offered occasionally This introductory course explores the current use of traditional letterpress production and is ideal for the artist, writer, poet, or designer who seeks to produce combinations of word with images in a professional, fine art, limited-edition format. The relationship between word and image may be pursued through fine arts prints, folios, and books printed with Dolphin Press & Print’s Vandercook letterpress. Hand-set lead type and polymer plates can be printed to produce ’zines, artist books, cards, and broadsides. Students are introduced to setting type, running the Vandercook letterpress, pilot presses, and proofing press. Suggested for printmaking majors and for book arts and printmaking concentrators.

02 MICA | dolphin letterpress

03 Vandercook | history + diagram


The company was started by Robert Vandercook in Chicago in September 1909. The first press was a “rocker� proof press, made with a geared cylinder. Up to the development of this press all proofs were either made on a roller press that depended on gravity for impression or on a Washington Hand Press. During the next 54 years they brought out 60 different press models of which nine models were made in two or more styles. In the 75 years that presses were manufactured, more than 38,000 with the name of Vandercook were produced.

Vandercook was very prolific in producing new models. They developed 29

models before World War II and 17 of these models were still being manufactured many years after the war. The most popular of these models was #4, which was first made in 1935 and not discontinued until 1960. Many are still in use today. In 1948 they brought out the model 4T, which was used to pull transparency proofs of type on acetate. The acetate proofs could then be contacted to film for offset negatives. During World War II not many presses were made because Vandercook was heavily involved in manufacturing for the war effort, for which they received the E award.

With the exception of models 0, 01, 03 and 099, which were gravity type presses,

all of the Vandercooks had geared cylinders. The last models designed were the SP series (which stands for Simple Precision) and the Universal series. They are similar in design but the Universal presses were originally designed as Test presses for ink companies and paper mills. Most of them were made with automatic controls and adjustable beds (AB). The SP series were mostly hand presses. The SP15 was the most popular of them all.

04 Vandercook | history + diagram





01 Rollers

02 Bed

Rubber rollers and three or

The flat surface on which

four metal cylanders rotate

the type is placed for

to spread the ink smoothly.


03 Print/Trip Lever Trip the press to ink the plate or set type, then set the lever to print mode to put the ink on paper.

07 Topic | subtopic



2 2



01 Key & Quoin Tool to tighten and loosen type set

02 Composing Stick Shallow, adjustable tray in which type is set or arranged before it is locked into the chase.

03 Roller Adjuster Tool for adjusting roller height

04 Foot Lever

04 Furniture Hardwood or metal blocks in specific lengths and

step on the lever to secure

widths [measured in picas], used

paper under the grippers

to fill in the space around the type on the bed.

05 Process | method + type

06 Process | method + type

07 Process | ink

08 Process | ink

09 Process | makeready

10 Process | makeready

11 Process | finishing touches

12 Process | finishing touches

13 Process | cleaning

14 Process | cleaning

15 Press | No. 4

16 Press | No. 4

01 Press No. 4 Press No. 4 is the perfect press for shorties. It may take a little bit of TLC and makeready to produce an even ink job, but all in all, No. 4 is very reliable.

17 Press | No. 4

18 Press | No. 4

19 Press | No. 4

01 Nikonon Press DESIGNER Kailie Parrish CONCEPT Prop Cards PRESS No. 4 PAPER Crane lettra 220 lb. cover

and museum board

02 Colin M. Ford DESIGNER Carolyn Williams CONCEPT Calling Cards PRESS No. 4 PAPER Crane lettra 220 lb. cover

20 Press | No. 4

03 Kathy Loveman DESIGNER Becky Slogeris CONCEPT Prop Cards PRESS No. 4 PAPER Green valor paper and

Neenah classic crest 100 lb. cover

21 Press | No. 4

04 Pimlico Race DESIGNER Allison Fisher CONCEPT Postcards PRESS No. 4 and SP20 PAPER Strathmore 80 lb. cover

22 Press | No. 4

05 Baltimore Streetcars DESIGNER Michelle Ghiotti CONCEPT Postcards PRESS No. 4 PAPER Blotter

06 Pench Press DESIGNER Sabrina Kogan CONCEPT Prop Cards PRESS No. 4 PAPER Blotter and matte duralar

23 Press | Universal 1

24 Press | Universal 1

02 Universal 1 The Universal 1 is fully automatic. Just move the lever to the right and make sure it doesn’t leave without you!

25 Press | Universal 1

26 Press | Universal 1

27 Press | Universal 1

01 Balloon Ascension DESIGNER Nicolette Cornelius CONCEPT Postcards PRESS Universal 1 PAPER Museum board 2 ply

02 Alicia Jacobs DESIGNER Nicolette Cornelius CONCEPT Calling cards PRESS Universal 1 PAPER Strathmore double thick

28 Press | Universal 1

03 Automatic Press DESIGNER Colin M. Ford CONCEPT Prop cards PRESS Universal / SP20 PAPER Chipboard

29 Press | Universal 1

04 Baltimore Dentistry DESIGNER Alexis Morgan CONCEPT Postcards PRESS Universal 1 PAPER Blotter

05 Baltimore Sweets DESIGNER Carolyn Williams CONCEPT Postcards PRESS Universal 1 PAPER Blotter

30 Press | Universal 1

06 Jimmy’s DESIGNER Alicia Jacobs CONCEPT Postcards PRESS Universal 1 PAPER Various water color

07 Big Lb Press DESIGNER Nicolette Cornelius CONCEPT Prop Cards PRESS Universal 1 PAPER Museum board 2 ply

31 Press | SP20

32 Press | SP20

03 SP20 Repro Press SP20 is the perfect height for tall people. And just when you thought the automatic Universal 1 was easy, the Sp20 has automatic cleaning!

33 Press | SP20

34 Press | SP20

35 Press | SP20

01 Ira Glass DESIGNER Claire Clayton CONCEPT Postcards PRESS SP20 PAPER Velvet somerset

02 Baltimore & Ohio Railroad DESIGNER Colin M. Ford CONCEPT Postcards PRESS SP20 PAPER Chipboard

36 Press | SP20

03 Andy Mangold DESIGNER Kailie Parrish CONCEPT Calling Cards PRESS SP20 PAPER Museum board 2 ply

04 Gay-as-in Happy Press DESIGNER Alexis Morgan CONCEPT Prop Cards PRESS SP20 PAPER Museum board 4ply

37 Press | SP20

05 Baltimore Oriels DESIGNER Becky Slogeris CONCEPT Postcards PRESS SP20 PAPER Neenah classic crest

double thick

07 Sparo Press DESIGNER Michelle Ghiotti CONCEPT Prop Cards PRESS SP20 PAPER Blotter

38 Press | SP20

06 Beehler Umbrella Factory DESIGNER Kailie Parrish CONCEPT Calling Cards PRESS SP20 PAPER Museum board 2 ply

39 Press | 325G

40 Press | 325G

04 325G For the purest out there, the 325G is all manual. That’s right, you’ll develop huge muscles.

41 Press | 325G

42 Press | 325G

43 Press | 325G

01 July 2010 DESIGNER Andy Mangold CONCEPT

Calendar 2010

PRESS 325G PAPER Crane lettra 220 lb. cover

02 Analog Man DESIGNER Andy Mangold CONCEPT Prop Cards PRESS 325G PAPER Blue Pescia

44 Press | 325G

03 September 2010 DESIGNER Colin M. Ford CONCEPT Calendar 2010 PRESS 325G PAPER Crane lettra 220 lb. cover


This book encompasses the history, process, and beautiful work produced by Mary Mashburn’s Fall 2009 Dolphin: Letterpress class. Visitors from Matt McNary and Carol Sturm and a field trip to Typecast Press and Globe made the class a great success. See for yourself!

The Key to Success is a Vandercook Press  

A compilation of student work and process from MICA's Dolphin Letterpress class Fall 2009

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