Corcoran Students Work with Government Printing Office and American Printing History Association

November 29, 2011

The Art and the Book Program at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, the American Printing History Association Chesapeake Chapter, and the Government Printing Office joined forces this fall to celebrate GPO's 150th anniversary by getting some historic wood display type, long unused in GPO's basement, together with eager students at the Corcoran.

On Saturday, November 19, the students and faculty from the Corcoran gathered with APHA Chesapeake members to design and produce three specimen broadsides using the 58 cases of wood type. The students chose texts with close connection to GPO's buildings and history: a fragment from Beatrice L. Warde's "This is a Printing Office" inscription and one from Frederick Goudy's "I Am Type," both of which appear on bronze plaques at GPO's main entrance on North Capitol Street NW, in Washington.

Created by Congress in 1861, the Government Printing Office has a long and distinguished history of training printing craftspeople. The Corcoran students toured the GPO plant in early November and had the opportunity to meet GPO printers and bookbinders and see the "big shop" in action. They also got their first look at the type collection, which has been stored away since leaving everyday service decades ago. It will be on loan to the Corcoran for the use of students in the Art & the Book program.

The project connects aspiring young printers with a fragment of GPO's history. The type collection is being named in memory of GPO's longtime head of plant operations, Bob Schwenk, who made sure over many years that the type was preserved. Schwenk, himself a printer platemaker by trade and a product of GPO's apprentice training, had a deep interest in GPO's history and a great appreciation for young people who were interested in carrying on the printing craft.

The project wraps up on Wednesday evening, November 30, at 7pm in the Corcoran's Auditorium, with a talk by George Barnum, presentations by the students, and a view of their work. Everyone is welcome.

The broadsides will also be on view during the final weeks of GPO's 150th anniversary exhibit, "Keeping America Informed: 150 Years of Service to the Nation" , between now and December 22, 2011. Gallery hours are 8 am - 4 pm weekdays, with a special weekend opening on Saturday, December 17, 1 - 4 pm. GPO is at 732 North Capitol St NW, in Washington, and information is available at 202-512-1991202-512-1991.


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