UND student restores 1897 printing press

A senior graphic design student at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, will be demonstrating an antique printing press that he restored at the annual threshing bee and antique show at Braddock, N.D., Sept. 10 and 11.

A senior graphic design student at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, will be demonstrating an antique printing press that he restored at the annual threshing bee and antique show at Braddock, N.D., Sept. 10 and 11.

Shawn Marshall of Burlington, N.D., restored an 1897 Challenge Gordon platen press as part of an internship for his graphic design major. He will be printing a souvenir card on the 119-year-old press during the show.

The press was originally used for printing envelopes, letterheads and business cards at the Isabel Dakotan, a weekly newspaper at Isabel, S.D. Former publisher Myron Lofgren, now of Sioux City, Iowa, donated his antique letterpress equipment to the Timber Lake & Area Historical Society, but the museum did not have space for two of his presses, the Challenge Gordon and a much larger Babcock Standard Pony cylinder press that once printed the newspaper. Both were put into storage. The Challenge Gordon ended up uncovered in an open building at Firesteel, S.D., where it rusted and deteriorated for many years.

Kathy Nelson, publisher of the Timber Lake Topic and a long-time member of the historical society, arranged for the two presses plus an Intertype type-setting machine to be transferred to The Braddock News Letterpress Museum at Braddock. The museum is part of the South Central Threshing Association, Inc. pioneer village.

Marshall began restoring the Challenge Gordon in June and worked on it until mid- August. He finished it over Labor Day weekend.

He disassembled the press and put the smaller parts into water in a large plastic garbage can and the two largest pieces in a farm stock tank. Electrolysis was used to remove the buildup of rust, ink and dirt. Then he buffed the pieces to the bare metal before priming and painting.

Marshall painted the press blue, a color uncovered during the electrolysis process, and pin-striped various parts, including the wheel and treadle, in metallic gold.

“I had no idea how long it would take when I started, and it went far beyond the hours required for the internship,” Marshall said. “It turned out well, and the press prints like it did when it was first put into service in the 1890s.”

Marshall’s goal is to have his own letterpress studio after he graduates from UND and to use antique equipment to create works of art.

Also volunteering at the Braddock News during the show will be Dr. Lucy Ganje, the UND professor who inspired Marshall’s interest in letterpress. She retired in May and has a letterpress studio which she will be moving from Grand Forks to Rapid City, S.D., this fall.

Curator of the Braddock museum is Allan Burke, publisher emeritus of the Emmons County Record at Linton, N.D., and the Prairie Pioneer at Pollock, S.D. Burke said the press probably would not have been restored without Marshall’s internship and dedication.

The model of Challenge Gordon that Marshall restored is one of fewer than a dozen in the country believed to have avoided being scrapped.

Marshall is the son of Gregory and Margie Marshall of Burlington.







GAMES