Print it at Kutztown Folk Festival
Tucked between the hex sign display and the horse-powered carousel at the Kutztown Folk Festival, a 100-year-old printing press clicks and clacks as it churns out hand-fed printed souvenirs.
It’s the first time the historic cast iron press is on display as part of the Pennsylvania-Dutch festival at the Kutztown Fairgrounds through July 8.
The press is from the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem and is part of a new exhibit on early printing at the museum through Oct. 31.
At Kutztown, visitors can operate the press themselves by depressing the foot pedal, and hearing the whir of the giant wheel that powers the press, as they print souvenir “Go Dutch” coasters.
“The advent of the printing press and the culture of the Pennsylvania-Dutch people have both left an indelible mark on the world today,” says Steve Sharadin, festival director. “The press provides visitors a unique perspective on what helped shaped this country and offer a historic look into this influential industry.”
There is no doubt the printed word revolutionized the spread of knowledge throughout the United States and the world, says Glenn Koehler, marketing and outreach coordinator for the National Museum of Industrial History.
“Printing became commonplace and it allowed the spread of infomation to everyone including the common people,” Koehler says. “Before that, printed material was only available to rich people.”
The press on display at the festival is a Chandler & Price hand-fed platen jobbing press. The company was founded in 1881 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Koehler says the type of press, designed for small jobs such as newsletters, handbills and programs for theaters and churches, became known as the “Model T of the printing press.”
“It was first one that really standardized the process and was widely used all over the country,” Koehler says. “It was pretty versatile.”
The press which can churn out 1,000 prints an hour at full speed, is slowed down at Kutztown so visitors can see how it works. Historians will be on hand to talk about the process and the machinery.
The exhibit at the festival is in conjunction with the “Hot Off the Press: Printing and Papermaking” on display at the 18,000-square-foot museum at SteelStacks.
Koehler says another Chandler & Price jobbing press, similar to the one at Kutztown, is featured in the exhibit that gives an in-depth and interactive look at how printing presses, paper, and ink were used to build the highly-influential printing industry.
The exhibit in the museum’s Millenbruch Gallery, also features a replica of a Stephen Day printing press, which is similar to the Gutenberg press. Day was the founder of the first printing press in Colonial America in 1639.
Included are rare printings, such as 17th century translations, the first German-translated Bible printed in the Colonies, and the Ephrata Martyrs’ Mirror, the largest book printed in colonial America.
There also is a one-of-a-kind scale model of a Fourdrinier papermaking machine, mosaics saved from the now-demolished Bethlehem Steel Printery and linotype machines used for newspapers, like those seen in the hit movie “The Post.”
Visitors also can print mementos on working printing presses.
The museum’s other galleries host exhibits on early machinery, Bethlehem Steel, silk manufacturing and the propane industry. For more information on the museum: nmih.org.
But for a sneak peak at what is on display at the museum, visit the Kutztown Folk Festival, the oldest continuously-operated folklife festival in the U.S. The festival features Pennsylvania-Dutch food, more than 200 juried folk artists and traditional craftsmen, more than 2,000 hand-made quilts, antiques and collectibles, six stages of entertainment, and children’s activities.
Kutztown Folk Festival, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. July 6 and 7; 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. July 4, 5, 8. Ticket information: kutztownfestival.com; 888-674-6136