Common Press printed projects and ephemera
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Common Press was founded at the University of Pennsylvania on January 17, 2006, the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth. It was conceived as an interdisciplinary project by the Kelly Writers House; the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts; and the University of Pennsylvania Fine Arts program, to create an environment encouraging collaboration among students with an emphasis on working among digital and analog design, writing, and image making. Located in the printmaking facility of the Fine Arts program, the press houses equipment spanning more than two centuries including several antique presses, lead and wooden type, and wood cuts and photogravure plates.
In the ten years since its founding, the Common Press has been the site of courses and workshops, as well as student-driven projects. Under the guidance of Matt Neff and David Comberg, the Common Press has produced printed collaborations with many artists and designers including Terry Adkins, Charles Burns, Oscar Munoz, Johanna Drucker, Swoon, and David Carson. Over the years, the press has formed long-standing relationships with local institutional partners including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Wharton Esherick Museum, and The Print Center, resulting in collaborative projects, exhibitions, and publications. A number of Common Press projects have been digitized and can be viewed at http://thecommonpress.org.
Kelly Writers House was founded as a writer-centered community at the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. The Kelly Writers House's imprint of the Common Press began as the 15th Room Press, involving Writers House affiliated writers and students. In 2010, thanks to the generosity of Penn alumna Nina Robinson Vitow, the Kelly Writers House imprint was endowed and renamed the Herman and Jeanne Robinson Letterpress, or the "Robinson Press." Kelly Writers House currently has two broadside series — one which features the work of visiting poets and one, called the "Hub Series," which features the work of Kelly Writers House community members. The Robinson Press also sponsors one student chapbook project each year. In addition, Kelly Writers House collaborates with the Common Press for special press workshops and larger limited-edition projects. The colophon symbol of the Robinson Press is three mismatched chairs modeled after actual chairs in the Kelly Writers House Arts Cafe. A number of Kelly Writers House/Common Press projects have been digitized and can be viewed at http://writing.upenn.edu/wh/involved/publications/15throompress/robinsonarchives.php.
Presses and equipment used to create the projects in this collection include: Hoe Washington hand press (circa 1860s), "Liberty" platen press (1860), Golding Pearl platen press (circa 1880), Potter proof press (circa 1930s), Vandercook No. 4 press (circa 1950s), Vandercook SP15 press (circa 1960s), Dahle 580, 32" guillotine, and a library of wood and metal type.
This collection includes printed projects and ephemera by the Common Press which date from 2006 to 2016. The collection reflects the press' interdisciplinary approach to teaching, emphasizing research and problem solving through making, and a collaborative approach to producing printed works. The collection also includes projects by Kelly Writers House, the bulk of which were produced in collaboration with the Common Press. A few Kelly Writers House pieces precede the creation of the Common Press and date from 1998 to 2015.
The collection is arranged in two series: 1) the Common Press, and 2) Kelly Writers House. Subseries are arranged by year, and projects are arranged alphabetically within each year.
Projects include broadsides, posters, flyers, postcards, cards, and chapbooks, and were created using a variety of printing processes and techniques (see below).
Glossary of terms used to describe the projects: Collagraph: a relief printing process in which materials are applied to a rigid substrate (such as board or wood) to create the printing plate; Digital Printing: printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media; primarily referring to ink-jet or laser methods; Letterpress: a technique of relief printing, in which a surface with raised letters is inked and pressed into the surface of the printing substrate to reproduce an image. Typically, metal or wood type is been used but other possibilities include carved wood or metal or polymer plates made from digital masters; Mixed Media: printing in which more than one medium has been employed; Risograph: a digital printing system using a stencil duplication process that, like silk screen, prints one color/one layer at a time from a master; manufactured by the Riso Kagaku Corporation; Silk Screen (screen printing): a printing process where ink is pressed through a stencil applied to a fine mesh screen; Wood Block: a technique for printing.
Gift of the Common Press and Kelly Writers House, 2016.
- University of Pennsylvania. Kelly Writers House
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Pennsylvania. Libraries
- University of Pennsylvania. School of Design
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Alexandra M. Wilder
- Finding Aid Date
- 2017 May 30
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of this collection is open for research. However, access to original audio/visual materials and computer files (box 1, folder 1) is restricted. The Kislak Center will provide access to the information on these materials from duplicate master files. If the original does not already have a copy, it will be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items is about two weeks for up to five items and three to seven weeks for more than five items. Please contact Reprographic Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) for cost estimates and ordering. Once digital items are received, researchers will have access to the files on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.