After I began woodcut printmaking in 2002, our hobby of haunting local estate sales took on a little more excitement as I searched for anything print-related, from artwork to equipment. With Buffalo having had quite a rich history in printing, I figured some good stuff would eventually start to make its way out of dusty attics and musty basements.
But, no, it never really did. As far as the artwork goes, the closest thing was a "woodcut" which was being sold as a print for $300; getting up close, I could see the sawtooth edges that are the hallmark of a computer printout. And as for equipment, I'm pretty sure that it is dictated by law that every garage/estate sale has at least one drawer from a California job case.
So, this morning we headed to Elmwood Avenue to check out the Elmwood Festival of the Arts, where, naturally, we were confronted with a banner that reminded us that that event is NEXT weekend. So, we poked around the neighborhood shops, and happened on an estate sale in a ridiculously large and beautiful home on Lafayette Avenue.
Being Sunday-- Day 3 -- there wasn't much left but some books and knick knacks (and, I swear, a California job case drawer). We went to the second floor and pawed through some more stuff, and frames, and the attic apartment, which was mostly empty, bun fun to look around. Finding nothing of interest, we probably should have left, but as the owners of an old house, we can't resist looking around the basements of old homes.
I immediately found a box with receipts. I love old receipts from back in the day, but these were even more meaningful. They were receipts from a printing company for business cards, letterhead and forms, many made for Buffalo's leading businesses in the mid 1950s. Not cool enough to buy, but pretty cool to behold for a minute. That's when the Little Woman said to me, "Ooh! Look at that old press!"
This beautiful old cylindrical proofing press sat in a sad little corner piled with junk, and set around it were boxes of old type. It had finally happened. I hit the jackpot.
"The press stays with the family," came a voice as a gently caressed the press' drum.
"Oh," I said, a little sad. I already have a press that I'm happy with, and being broke, I knew I couldn't have afforded the press anyway. Had there been other printing-related items, I'm sure I could have snapped up some stuff, but I didn't have much use for the press and the type.
"Yeah, this is day three," the voice continued. "Everything is pretty much gone. But two days ago it was PACKED WITH PRINTING STUFF."
Yes. It turns out that the house was owned by Mildred Andriaccio who passed away in April at age 93. Her claim to fame was, of course, that she was the first woman to own a printing business in Buffalo, Andria Press.
So, Mrs. Andriaccio, I salute you. And I implore anyone out there: If you hear of any sales "packed with printing stuff," won't you give a brother a shout?
(Note: Pulled the accompanying photograph from the web. The photo was called "The Ghost of a Printing Press," and I think it fits the post pretty well.)