Tuesday, 29 September 2009

couch house press tour

I recently learned about Coach House Books after reading an article about it in the Toronto Star. Eager to see more of this small press, I emailed CHB asking if I could come down for a visit. I was promptly responded to and invited to do a self-guided tour. I grabbed my camera and headed down to the UofT campus for my little adventure.

This small gem is tucked away on bpNichol Lane and got to it by way of walking in between a narrow gap of houses. In fact, I'm not even sure that was the right way to get there, but I got there all the same. I would've missed it completely if I weren't on foot. I was the only 'tourist' in the shop and the four people in there were working away doing seperate tasks. I was handed a pamphlet titled, "A Magical Mystery Tour: Inside the Coach House Press" that was no doubt printed in-house. First on the tour was a look at their linotype machine followed by their Gordon Press.

A few steps further and sits two Heidelberg machines which pretty much took up the entire room they were in. Talk about intimidating. Having been so use to letterpress printing, it was strange to see these offset machines in action with their right-reading plates!



One of the beasts at work (front and back view). I was so glad I wore sneakers and not flip flops. I almost felt like I needed protective gear standing near these machines. I was in awe and found myself just standing there, watching, fixed on the perfect repetition and the lull of the whirring paper and rotating cylinders.

These were randomly pulled from the freshly printed stack and closely inspected for flaws.


The last room on the first floor housed the 1950's folder and a binding machine. I got a first hand demonstration on the speed and accuracy of the folder. It was doomed to the junk yard, so I was told. But it was carefully and painstakingly calibrated and restored. Looks good to me!


The second floor is the Coffee Room where Coach House titles cover a wall from floor to ceiling.

The CHB staff was ever so friendly and eager to share their knowledge. From beginning to end, I felt as though I stepped into a fairy tale (well, at least my kind of fairy tale which includes presses and a bindery). If you're in the hood, stop in Coach House Books. It's a tiny place with a wealth of character (pun intended).

1 comment:

criag said...

Very thoughtfull post on binding machine. It should be very much helpfull

Thanks,
Karim - Officetronics Binding Machine

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