About the Prop.
I first put type to paper in 1975 as a freshman at the University of Alabama, having discovered the Typographic Laboratory, on the top floor of the main library, within weeks of arriving on campus.
The Typo Lab was a part of the Graduate School of Library Service and was directed by Glenn House, who encouraged my interest in printing and took me on as an assistant before the semester was over. The program had a distinguished lineage inspired by Victor Hammer and also Robert Hunter Middleton, who donated the Reliance handpress that was the focus of my attention. In 1977 Gabriel Rummonds of the Plain Wrapper Press joined the faculty as a visiting lecturer in descriptive bibliography and the history of books and printing. He offered an apprenticeship at his press in Verona, Italy, which I took advantage of in 1978 and1979. I finished my undergraduate studies at Spring Hill College, a Jesuit institution in Mobile, Alabama, working at the college press in exchange for tuition, and returned to the University of Alabama for a Master's Degree in Librarianship in 1983. By then Rummonds had closed his press in Italy and had assumed directorship of the new MFA program in the Book Arts and was printing in nearby Cottondale, Alabama, under his Ex Ophidia imprint, where I continued to assist him with printing on the Washington handpress.
I had imagined that my career would be in special collections librarianship, but in 1985 W. Thomas Taylor, an antiquarian book dealer and publisher in Austin, Texas, offered me a position as his pressman and production manager at the letterpress printing office he had assembled, and the subsequent ten years saw the production of our own books on printing and bookbinding history, and for a varied client list including the Book Club of California, Southern Methodist University, David Godine, and the Library of Congress.
In 1995 Tom left printing and the book trade to pursue other interests, leaving me to continue under my own shingle. The subsequent two and a half decades have been as satisfying a career as anyone could hope for, collaborating with authors and artists and designers and publishers and libraries and museums in the production of the kinds of books that captured my imagination when I first stepped into the Typographic Laboratory.