Fire up the presses for open house
Vintage letterpress to be running at printing museum open house Sunday
A rare opportunity to see an antique printing press in operation will be part of an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Peabody Printing Museum.
The museum began in the mid—1990s as a retirement project of former Peabody Gazette-Bulletin editor Bill Krause.
In recent years, George “Wes” Bentz of St. Louis, a 1957 Peabody High School graduate, has worked to clean up and organize the museum.
“I think he started at the Peabody Gazette in the fifth grade,” historical society board member Carmen South said. “He had a big love for printing and the print museum. He’s been back for five years getting everything catalogued and arranged in order of how a print shop would function.”
Bentz said the original collection focused on presses and equipment used between 1880 and 1930. Some used through the early 1960s were added later.
“There’s a whole bunch of platen presses, five Linotypes, two newspaper presses, a slug maker,” he said. “There’s a special machine that’s a precursor of the mimeograph. There’s an awful lot of history there.”
Bentz and his wife, Shirley, rented a house in Peabody and made periodic visits to work on the collection.
“It’s back into museum shape,” he said. “We’ve totally restored the Linotype and we’ve got three presses that run.”
Steve Conard of Hutchinson operated a commercial printing company in Hutchinson for 27 years. He will be at the museum Sunday to demonstrate a Chandler and Price letterpress, which dates to the 1910s, he said.
“It’s still in good shape,” he said. “I had several of these in my shop that still worked. I can demonstrate how the press prints, and I can talk about the other machines. I’ve been around the industry long enough.”
Conard said he was impressed with the selection of machines in the museum.
“It looks like a working newspaper office,” he said. “It’s got a lot of stuff and rarities.”
South said she expected to see many of Bentz’s classmates at the open house.
“His graduating class of 1957 is having its 60th reunion this weekend, and we wanted to have it open because he’s done so much there,” South said.
Last modified May 25, 2017