The NIU Common PressThe Rare Books and Special Collections department houses a replica of the common press, a wooden hand-press used for printing in the 17th and 18th century. Built In 1976 by Joe Frieders as a senior woodworking project, the seven-hundred-pound machine offers a working example of how some of NIU’s rare books were produced. The NIU Common Press has printed pamphlets, Christmas cards, broadside keepsakes and reproduction proofs for various events.
One of the goals of Rare Books and Special Collections is to resurrect the usage of the press for demonstrations and event printing.
How I Got Involved in Letterpress Printing: In the late 1980’s, I represented a divorce client who ran short of legal fees. He had a 5 x 8 Kelsey, some ratty type, and a 2/3rd cabinet made of boxwood. I took this stuff, gave him a $500 credit on his fees. That was my start.