[Alyson Kuhn] Judith Berliner founded her letterpress shop, Full Circle Press, 20 years ago, but she’s been printing for twice that long. She was a natural — almost a supernatural — to give the keynote address at the Ladies of Letterpress conference in Asheville, N. C., last weekend.
Berliner’s attentive audience included Ladies of Letterpress co-founder and director Kseniya Thomas (right) and conference panelist Bea Nettles (left).
Berliner grew into printing in her father’s letterpress shop and foundry. She spoke about her career as a commercial printer in the context of her duties, her training, and her opportunities as the daughter (the fourth of eight children, and the only printer in the bunch) of letterpress luminary Harold Berliner, who died last year.
Full Circle Press printed a keepsake for conference attendees, a facsimile of Beatrice Warde’s famous This Is a Printing Office broadside.
Berliner comments, “I do not remember my father’s print shop without this framed poster [see below] on the wall. My father did not print the poster — it was a gift, but I don’t think I ever knew who had given it to him. Anyway, it seemed appropriate to dedicate my broadside to my dad. And of course, the fact that the text was written by a woman of great typographic importance was meaningful for the Ladies of Letterpress.”
Harold Berliner’s copy of This Is a Printing Office (left) and Judith Berliner’s freshly printed broadside (right), in the barn where Judith Berliner got her start as a printer.
The broadside is printed on Mohawk Superfine Ultrawhite Eggshell #130 double thick cover.
The Full Circle Press broadside was set by typeface designer Steve Matteson of Monotype Imaging, a friend of Harold Berliner for many years. The typeface is Perpetua, designed by Eric Gill. Released in 1932, Perpetua was one of the first of many original designs to emerge from the Monotype Drawing Office. Along with its three titling fonts, it became one of the most-used typeface families for fine book typography.
The keynote address was moved to The Venue, after conference registration exceeded the capacity of the original location.
Berliner’s final slide was of her niece Ruby, sorting cards at Full Circle Press just a couple of weeks ago. Ruby had come into the print shop and said, “Aunt Judith, I am b-r-o-k-e, broke. Could I work for you for an hour?” And the audience applauded both Judith Berliner’s wonderful observations and, perhaps, the first member of the second generation of Ladies of Letterpress.
Broadside photo: © StudioAlex 2011
Speak right up: The first ten (10) readers to comment will receive, in their very own mailboxes, a copy of the beautiful broadside. How Superfine is that?!