The Passing of Two Printers

We have lost two San Francisco Bay Area printers recently and I think we should take note of their passing.

On October 3, David Johnston, died of a heart attack while playing frisbee. He was a former apprentice at M&H Type and had started his own typecasting and letterpress shop in Oakland naming it the Sharp Teeth Press. Recently the press name changed to the Prototype Press. Davey was two weeks shy of his 30th birthday. Here is a picture of him when he was at M&H:

Over a year ago, Boxcar Press did an interview with David and it can be read here:

The other printer was Allen Stump, who died last Wednesday, November 4. Allen was an old geezer, very close to me in age, and had many years in printing, amassing late in life a large shop with hot metal and a fantastic wood type collection. He operated under the name A Mano Press located in Hayward. Allen had difficulties holding onto his printing operation and when I last heard from him, he had been working the small letterpress shop at the Roaring Camp & Big Trees Railroad in Felton, California. At one point this past summer, Allen entered hospice care and there was a fund raising effort to help in his care. He had been in and out of the hospital since then. A memorial service is tentatively planned for the 28th. Here is a picture of Allen:

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Eric Holub posted this additional information on Allen Stump:

“Allen started as a boy printer in Los Angeles, riding his bike to LA Type. He established his first commercial letterpress shop in Venice, later another shop in Vancouver, and then his final shop, A Mano Press, in Hayward. He gathered an amazing amount of type and equipment there.
Friends are planning an informal memorial gathering Wednesday November the 18th from 6 - 8 p.m. at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina (between 4th and 5th, Howard and Folsom). Street parking may be available but you can also park in the 5th and Mission garage. “

And I had forgotten that Allen had also worked with Gerald Giampa while he was in Vancouver. Allen was truly a passionate letterpress person who lived and breathed the art.

By the time he left Vancouver, Allen had lost respect for Giampa but maintained a long friendship with Jim Rimmer. Before Jim died, Allen spent time with him learning his pantographic mat-making process. Allen made mats of a modified Grandjean fleuron for two-color work, and came back with a few galleys of the ornaments which he used for a series of notecards.

Here’s a photo of Allen in Fred Williams’ tiny shop as we prepared to portage the Little Giant.

image: StumpatWilliams.jpg


Sorry to hear of Allen’s passing.

I only met him twice passing through SF, but we established an instant rapport with our mutual love of wood type.

On the first visit, I was able to see his legendary wood type collection - beautifully catalogued and stored in (I think) 8 full type cabinets at A Mano Press. We did a print swap, but I got many more than him, as every time I admired something, he would give me a copy!

The second time, he was working at the Camp & Railroad already mentioned. At this stage, he did not have access to his A Mano Press, and was only able to give me a few small pieces using metal type from the camp, so I was delighted to return the favour.

His love and knowledge of printing was the sort you only get from years of experience and hands on printing, and when we last met I admired his sheer grit and toughness.

If anyone reads this who is going to the informal memorial gathering, please pass on thoughts and regards from Melbourne, Australia.

Here’s a photo of Allen dropping me off at SFO. His van appeared to contain everything apart from the kitchen sink!

Philip Moorhouse

image: Allen Stump SFO.jpg

Allen Stump SFO.jpg

Sad to heard about these two fellows.
They will be missed.

As it is Veteran’s Day, I’ll add that Allen was a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, though I don’t remember how he served. Maybe onboard ship, since he also did maritime work in Vancouver (Tugboats?), but you never know. My lead printer at Arion, Jerry Reddan, served in the Navy at the same time but at a listening post in the highlands of Ethiopia, and only saw the sea on leave. Thanks guys.

A reminder for those in the Bay Area that friends are planning an informal memorial gathering for Allen Stump Wednesday November the 18th from 6 - 8 p.m. at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina (between 4th and 5th, Howard and Folsom). Street parking may be available but you can also park in the 5th and Mission garage.

I just had a call to remind me of the event though I can’t make it —and the call was made on Allen’s cell phone by a friend who used all of Allen’s stored phone numbers to notify those who Allen had called over time. I better get my phone number list updated—I had never thought of that use of a cell phone. Mine is primarily so I can call for help, either 911 or like last week when I ran out of gas around the bend from the office.

Thanks for your post about Allen… He was one of my mentors as I started up my letterpress business a few years back. Im so glad I got to see his shop of wonders and hear some of his stories.. even when he was working at the little shop at the railroad station in Felton (Raoring Camp) I would stop by and hang out and watch him work the Linotype machine which he helped restore. RIP .. Allen.

image: 542156_524105722164_462173847_n.jpg


Can someone please give me more info about Allen’s passing.?
We had met in the 70’s on the very northern tip of Vancouver Island- and we were close friends for many years after that.We stayed in touch . And even though the guy could drive me right up the wall and back down again-I never once doubted what a massive human being he was-He was truly an icon.
I only wish I could’ve told him that.
Please anybody out there-tell me what you can.Thanks, Judy Mann