County Fair: A Multi-Sheet, Multi-Color Historic Block Restrike Print

The Hamilton press room recently printed another multi-sheet restrike from the collection. This design, known as “County Fair”, depicts a proudly-dressed female farmer posing with her horse, a sheaf of wheat, several ears of corn, and a prize-beribboned cow in front of a moon or a sun. The blocks for this 4-color, 2-sheet poster were in an excellent condition and ready to take to press, needing no remediation.

Producing a restrike print at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum
Printing blocks

Closeup of final composite print 

The process for printing multi-sheet posters is quite simple. We lockup both blocks and then print the top half, flip the lockup, then print the bottom half. However, we only ink one of the two blocks at a time (and about the top 2” of the bottom block). This is because the sheets we use give us a 1" margin on either end; blank at the grippers, but part of the other half of the image on the other side.

In-progress print showing blue, red, and yellow block impressions

That little bit we print off the second block lets us trim one edge so the two sheets can dovetail to create a final seamless image--just some basic tiling. We just ensure consistency with the lock-ups. The trappings are quite generous with these blocks, so side-to-side movement isn't much of a problem, though slight adjustments are always made. 

Red-yellow registration detail 1

Red-yellow registration detail 2

At the outset, the sequence for printing was approached in a traditional manner with a run order of red, blue, yellow, and black. However, after printing the blue, this order was proved incorrect, having produced a (rather alarmingly) purple cow.

Purple cow 1

Additionally, the blue used was also incorrect.

Purple cow 2

While the residual blue ink on the block was noticeably lighter, having clearly been mixed with opaque white, we decided to use process blue. So, when starting the run for a second time, we mixed something close to Pantone 298U.

 Pulling a separation print from the blue block

This proved correct, and with the overprinted red, yielded a lovely brown cow. From there, the printing sequence continued with yellow followed by black.

Closeup of in-progress print showing blue, red, and yellow block impressions

Painstakingly registered, this 4-color 2-sheet broadside poster is a large and in-charge work printed on Neenah Classic Crest Cover recycled paper in Bright White and measuring 39.75" x 54.25" when both sheets are aligned at the overlap edge.

Final composite print of 'County Fair' 


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