TDC Salon: “The Twilight of Letterpress: New York in the 80s” with Ron Gordon
Type Directors Club, New York
April 25, 2019

In the early 1980s Ron Gordon and his associate, Dean Bornstein, traveled around New York City to document the letterpress shops that were still in operation, including Bowne & Co., the Harbor Press, Pittsburgh Metal’s foundry, Peter Kruty Editions, Grenfell Press, Ron’s own Oliphant Press, and Charles Press.

In this video, Ron show Dean’s nostalgic and evocative photos, recreates a 1984 talk on local letterpress, and reflects on New York City printing over the last 35 years.

The talk describes how Ron and Dean interviewed the various proprietors and photographed their shops, their studios, and representative samples of their work. Little they know that what was coming to an end in the city was not only letterpress, but the whole printing industry itself.

Ron Gordon studied printing, typography, and book design with two great masters, Leonard Baskin and Joseph Blumenthal, and then founded his own Oliphant Press in 1970 to carry on the tradition of fine printing and design. Beginning as a letterpress printer, Ron adapted his style and skills as the craft shifted to computer typesetting, offset lithography, and now, digital printing.

His work has been exhibited at the Amherst College Library, the RIT Cary Collection, and the Club of Odd Volumes, in Boston. Ron has taught workshops at the book arts centers at Wells, Wellesley, Dartmouth, and RIT. He has trained numerous assistants and interns, and has lectured at libraries, colleges, and book clubs all over the country.