The Cilley Print Shop, ca. 1890

1. Cilley Print Shop - Hart Squqre

The Cilley Print Shop, ca. 1890

Please click on the thumbnail for a slideshow of historical images and the restoration. Mary Cilley donated this small, one-room cabin to Hart Square in 1994. From land now covered by Lake Hickory, Mary’s father, James Lenoir Cilley, moved the cabin, around 1927, to their back yard on Fifth Avenue nw, in Hickory, where in her teens Mary used it as a weaving house.

The Hart Square printing collection, displayed in the Cilley Cabin, followed the serendipitous acquisition of a Chandler & Price printing press. Becky happened to be at the Catawba County Museum of History the day the press arrived from Georgia. Donated and shipped by Dorothy Abernethy, it wouldn’t go through the door. Sidney Halma, the museum’s revered director, turned to Becky, who said, “I’m sure Bob could find a place for it,” and with Dorothy’s approval, the press arrived at Hart Square. “Luckily, I hadn’t put the chimney up yet,” says Bob of the Cilley Cabin.  “So I just slid the press through the hole. Instead of a cabin, I’ve got a print shop.”

The turn of the nineteenth century inaugurated extraordinary developments in printing technology that hadn’t considerably changed since Gutenberg’s wooden screw-press, which in 1800 Charles, 3rd Earl Stanhope cast essentially in iron. The Times of London soon printed its November 29, 1814, edition on a steam-driven press invented by Friedrich KÖnig, a German. Small-format work, however, such as handbills, cards, and stationary, typically produced in short runs, was revolutionized in Boston, in 1831, by Stephen P.  Ruggles, who invented the first treadle-powered, self-inking platen press or “jobber.” (Daniel Treadwell, a fellow Bostonian, patented a similar press some thirty years earlier, but it never materialized.) George P.  Gordon would refine this press by 1856 as the famous Franklin Jobber. The Hart Square Chandler & Price – C&  P bought out Gordon in 1901 – is a direct descendant, often referred to as a “Gordon style” press and highly prized these days by artisan letter-press printers.