The Cilley Print Shop, ca. 1890
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.