Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum Wayzgoose

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One of the first things I did as a first year graduate student in the Book and Paper program was to visit the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. For the past three years, the museum has hosted a Wayzgoose. A Wayzgoose was, at one point in time, a celebration, a holiday, hosted by a master printer for his workers. Now the term is used to describe an annual celebration among printers.

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Hamilton Manufacturing Company produced wood type for many years and was, at one time, the largest manufacturer of wood type in the country. The Wood Type and Printing Museum is housed in what used to be the factory space for the Hamilton Company. You walk in and you can’t help but be overwhelmed. In the Museum’s possession are over 1.5 million pieces of wood type. There are cases of type everywhere. There is an operating pressroom that contains a few presses and lots of ink and even more type. On the wall are prints that say things like, “I must confess I love big type” or “heft.”

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Now, I’ll admit that before coming to graduate school, I didn’t know much about wood type and I didn’t know anything about Hamilton. Last year I wandered in to Hamilton totally ignorant of the significance of that factory building. I met great people, including Sandro Berra of Tipoteca Italiana, James Clough, and Rick Griffith. This year I had the absolute pleasure of listening to a talk by artist Judith Poirier, who is letterpress printing directly on film, whoa. And also, meeting type rockstar, MacArthur Fellow, and designer of the typefaces Georgia (which is totally the typeface I used for a tattoo on my wrist), Tahoma, and Verdana, Matthew Carter. The best thing about meeting all these people is that for three days they are just wandering around the museum, just like you. Everyone is listening to lectures, eating together, making stuff–Jim Sheridan, of Hatch Show Print, sits and plays guitar in the morning with a few other folks. The atmosphere is one of ease and community.

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This year, on top of meeting some wonderful people and seeing some now familiar faces, I understood how absolutely magnificent it is to have, just three hours away from Chicago, this wonderful resource and absolutely unique landmark. Having the history of something you’re really interested in presented in such a tangible way, at least for me, provides a lot of motivation–to take advantage of the awesome facilities in Book and Paper and to realize how precious this time is to learn as much as possible and create as much as possible while surrounded by a truly vast amount of resources.