I became a letterpress printer in 1964 when I received a 3x5 inch Kelsey press outfit for Christmas. A few months later, we purchased a used 5x8 Kelsey and a dozen or so cases of type. I mainly printed small jobs of stationery and business cards, but the most lucrative product was the name cards high school seniors included with their graduation announcements.
In June 1970, while still in high school, I joined the American Amateur Press Association and began publishing The Handset Journal and The Tribby Tribune on a "semi-occasional" basis.
I met other locals when Lee Hawes hosted a meeting of the Suncoast Amateur Press Society in late 1970. Visiting other printers' shops showed me that home presses did not have to be limited to the hand-operated table-top variety. I learned a lot working with others to compose and print amateur journals.
After settling in California in the mid-1970s, I used a hand-powered 6x9 Sigwalt press. In 2000, I upgraded to a motorized 8x12 Golding Jobber. My journals could now be printed two pages at a time, and a press run of 300 that previously took all evening could be completed in about an hour.
In 2004 I acquired the print shop of Charlie Hinde in nearby Santa Clara. Charlie had a long career as a printer. In the mid-1970s he established his private Bean Creek Press and built it up as professionals sold off their letterpress equipment. After retirement, Charlie spent much of his time printing keepsakes to brighten his friends' lives -- especially get well cards and commemorative posters with a distinctive nineteenth century look. As he reached his mid-80s, circulatory problems made it difficult to work in the shop, and he felt it was time to sell. Over the next 15 months, friends in the San Jose Printers' Guild helped me move more than 6 tons of equipment from Charlie's house to mine, including a Vandercook Universal I press.
I use the Golding Jobber for most production jobs. The Vandercook is great for running proofs and for large-format jobs. The Sigwalt gets used on occasion for small jobs, and the 3x5 Kelsey is perfect for off-site printing demonstrations or printing cards with youngsters.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org