19th century printing press

Operating an 1880’s Printing Press

Last July, Pitts was thrilled to acquire a beautiful Washington-style printing press made by the F. Wesel Manufacturing Company in New York and purchased in 1903 by the Western Methodist Book Concern in Cincinnati. The Washington-style press, invented by Samuel Rust in the 1820s, employed a toggle mechanism to lower the platen which pressed the paper onto the inked type. This became the most popular handpress in the United States during the 19th century and was capable of printing 300 sheets per hour operated by a crew of 2-3 people.

After months of assessment, adjustments, and repairs, Head of Special Collections, Brandon Wason, introduced the fully functioning press to Pitts staff and student workers last week! 

How to Operate an 1880s Washington-style Handpress (by Brandon Wason)

Step 1. Attach the paper to tympan.

Step 2. Using a brayer, apply ink to the surface of the form (text or woodcut).

Step 3. Fold the frisket and tympan onto the form (text or woodcut).

Step 4. Turn the crank counter-clockwise to position the bed under the platen.

Step 5. Lower the platen by pulling the bar and then return the bar to its original position.

Step 6. Turn the crank clockwise to position the bed away from the platen.

Step 7. Open the frisket and tympan and remove the printed paper.

Interested in making the printing press a learning opportunity for your community? Contact Pitts to request a consultation!

Forthcoming Exhibition: Evangelicalism in America

As the fall exhibition at Pitts comes to a close, we look forward to a new one on the horizon! From December 16, 2019 to March 20, 2020, Pitts will feature “Thy Kingdom Come: American Evangelicalism from George Whitefield to Contemporary Politics” curated by Brandon Wason and Eric Moore. Following the 250 year legacy of George Whitefield, this exhibition pushes against monolithic portrayals of Evangelicalism in the media and seeks to show the significance of this movement within the broader American culture. Stay tuned for details about tours, digital tools, and more!

Brandon Wason Named SBL Archivist

Director of Pitts Theology Library, Dr. Richard Manly “Bo” Adams Jr., and newly appointed SBL archivist, Brandon Wason, examine the contents of the recently absorbed collection. [Media Contact: Laurel Hanna]
Pitts Theology Library’s Curator of Archives and Manuscripts, Brandon Wason, has been appointed Archivist of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). Brandon will head efforts to provide access to and digitize the rich collection of institutional records, which were recently relocated and absorbed by Pitts in January 2018 (see here). Commenting on his appointment, Brandon explains “I’ve been a member of SBL since 2005 and am indebted to the Society for my own professional development. I’m personally committed to the preservation of the Society’s archives and excited about providing access to these materials to those researching the Society, its history, or the broader academic field of biblical literature.”

On behalf of the staff and faculty at Pitts and the Candler School of Theology, we congratulate Brandon on his appointment and look forward to future collaboration with the Society of Biblical Literature!