The Provenance of My Letterpress


Chandler & Price Old Style treadle platen printing press Serial Number B6381. Patented June 13, 1899. Place and date of manufacture; USA, 1911. Based upon the serial number this press appears to be one of the last produced in the Old Series.

Back in March 2021, I purchased this Chandler & Price Letterpress

Alice Water’s restaurant Chez Panisse has been a major influence on my cooking. Ever present in the background has been Patricia Curtain’s press illustrations for so many of Chez Panisse’s menus & posters and Alice Water’s books over the years.

These prints on the wall behind where my letterpress now lives are by Patricia Curtain who was once also a pastry chef at Chez Panisse. These prints are pages torn (carefully) from the Vegetables of Chez Panisse 2003 Engagement Calendar and previously adorned the walls at my Surry Hill’s restaurant Bird Cow Fish.

Tanja Binggeli was a regular customer at Bird Cow Fish and when I closed the restaurant in 2012 she gifted me her very first print (it was of a fig) that she did from this same Letterpress. Tanja had found this press in a printing factory in Fairfield where it had been on display. Tanja’s manuscript and inspiration was also Patricia Curtain’s book Menus for Chez Panisse, The Art & Letterpress of Patricia Curtain 2011 which I was given by one of my employees Joshua Charmaine many years ago. Over the years since I had closed Bird Cow Fish Tanja went onto do more press print menus for me on her Letterpress. I even used all of the offcuts of old menus as the labels for my products for sale at my Carriageworks Markets stall.

In March 2021 Tanja posted on Instagram that she needed to find a new home for her Letterpress as she was moving to Berlin.

This was at a bit of a tumultuous time for me, and it spoke to me as something I needed to grasp even though I wasn’t ready for it right at that moment. So, I bought it along with a full studio of an assortment of letterpress fonts, a proof press and other printing equipment hardware.

Alex Herbert © Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.