Earl Hayes Press in Hollywood

Michael Corrie just posted the first episode of a series he’s doing on Youtube about the Earl Hayes Press, which makes printed matter as props for Hollywood: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srECta2kft0 (Also featured in a few recent videos by Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame and noted movie prop maker and fanatic… https://www.youtube.com/@tested/videos). Very interesting.

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Corrie has done a few previous videos on the Hayes press:




He’s currently working to document and archive much of their collection of reference material and examples of previously printed stuff.

(And Adam Savage’s version of printing the Blade Runner badge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_6DH9Tgids)

That Adam savage video made me cringe.

The press operator said no one in the US used letterpress and the only service options were to ship machines to Mexico for repair.

Pretty sure he said “no-one works on these machines” as in repair and maintain them, not as in use them. I mean he is obviously still wrong. I’m sure he doesn’t have to drag the press across the border to find someone to do most repairs on a Vandercook.

Adam also keeps talking about ‘offset’, but that might be because they also do litho work there, so they were filming multiple segments. I saw there was another few videos from the shop with paper props.

I always hesitate to watch these types of videos with printing, book arts etc. because the simplifications and exaggerations stand out so clearly when its a topic you know well. :p

Never bothered me that non experts get terminology wrong. I’m sure we all do it about other things. [Savage did briefly work as a production assistant or something in graphic design so knows a bit but not specifically about letterpress printing.]

I just think it’s a great glimpse at a unique and specific use of letterpress (and other) printing today — and done continuously for several generations for this one market. Plus the amount of examples of all types of printed material they have is amazing.

(Also I think the pressman was just following up on the comment that it’s an old and (relatively) rare piece of equipment, with few options for repair. If they are still sometimes used in (niche) production printing in Mexico that’s a reasonably close place to find help fixing them.)

In the case of Vandercooks, we in the US are particularly fortunate to have the combined resources of Dave Seat, who repairs them all across the country and my own NA Graphics, which stocks parts and maintains the original Vandercook blueprint files. For a company that stopped manufacturing presses almost 50 years ago, I think that’s pretty amazing. And there are numerous other people and firms who do this work as well. I look at my desk top and the first item on the pile of paperwork is an order with seven Kelsey items .from a printer in North Carolina. Granted, we are a tiny part of what used to be the letterpress world.