History

The Yellow Springs News' Miehle press at the Printer's Hall in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

YS News press runs again, in Iowa

With a little bit of self-aggrandizing shop talk, the News is pleased to share the curious fact that its old printing press, the Miehle, has been restored to working order at Printer’s Hall, a demonstration museum in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

The News printed its last newspaper, a commemorative edition, on the Miehle on April 29, 1993, two years after it stopped using the letter press to print the paper. Those around at the time guessed it was one of probably just 30 papers in the country that hadn’t yet switched to offset production.

The trusted Miehle was first purchased in 1909 by the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where the nation’s currency is made. The YS News purchased the press in 1961 to print its papers (with the help of the indispensable linotype machine, which the News still possesses.) A collector named John Wilcox, of Delaware, Ohio, purchased the press, and when he died two years ago, his estate donated it to Printer’s Hall.

According to Bob Oldham, a local printer who went to Printer’s Hall and saw the press operate, when craftsmen began the restoration, they found that the tympan paper which takes the image to be printed, still had the commemorative edition on it. They saved the tympan paper and installed a fresh sheet to operate the press, he said. It is now powered by electricity, but Printer’s Hall is planning to power it by steam, the way old presses used to be run.

Printer’s Hall is part of Midwest Old Threshers, a museum dedicated to preserving the agricultural heritage of the Midwest.

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9 Responses to “YS News press runs again, in Iowa”

  1. Eric Appleberry says:

    Yes, Peter, it was me running the press in 1956, but, it was the old Babcock, as Bill & Clark noted. We didn’t have the Miehle until we moved into the old Chevrolet space in (1957 or was it 1958/1959?).

    Ken was the patient teacher of me too. I also mangled my share of newsprint sheets (and can attest to the hassle of removing pieces of paper from the ink rollers). Eventually I got the hang of running the press & tried very hard to do a quality job of printing the papers. I understood how important the YSNews and Antioch Record were in their communities & took great satisfaction in my after-school job at the News.

  2. I hate to quibble with hard working journalists, but you may have a fact wrong regarding the date that wonderful old press was purchased.

    The Yellow Springs News used to job print the Antioch College Record, a student newspaper for which I worked whenever I was on-campus. I served as managing editor once, and then as editor.

    To the best of my recollection, that press was in use in 1956 when I paid my first visit to the Yellow Springs News, back when Ken Champney and Keith Howard were the proprietors. In those days Keith did most of the writing and ad selling, and Ken handled the print shop. The press operator, most of the time, was Eric (“Rick”) Appleberry, son of Lynton Appleberry, a YSN Linotype operator.

    Rick went on to become a periodontist in Michigan. Lynton was my in-the-background “journalism professor” who’d occasionally whisper, “Peter, are you sure you want to say it that way when you could just write (etc)…”

    At any rate, I’m glad Printers’ Hall had decided to preserve this wonderful old relic (it was already a relic in 1956) but to make it look fully authentic, it needs a statue of young Rick Appleberry, standing on the shelf (lower left side of the photograph) feeding sheets of paper into its maw.

    Further nostalgia note: The press printed on only one side of a sheet of paper at a time. The operator then had to collect the sheets, turn them upside-down, and run them through the press a second time.

    They don’t make ‘em like that any more.

    Amen.

    Peter Hochstein
    Antioch College, 1961

    • Lauren Heaton says:

      Before tracking down the truth myself, let me first reference the source. I got the information from a poster that was printed with the Miehle at Printer’s Hall this summer and included a brief history of the press. It says that after the its manufacture in 1907, the press “was first installed in the Bureau of Printing & Engraving in Washington, D.C., where it printed money, bonds, and other documents until 1961.”

      • Bill McCuddy says:

        There was a second flatbed letterpress at the News, a Babcock and Wilcox that I think was even older than the Miehle. we used it twice a year when I worked there to run red and green ink for the “color” holiday ads for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This could be the source of confusion about when the Miehle arrived…I think the Babcock was there first.

        • Clark Turner says:

          You’re right, Bill — the Babcock was indeed the press I operated in 1952-53. Essentially similar to the Miehle but slower — an advantage for a clumsy paper-feeder. Kieth Howard, given to fits of rage on press day, railed at it to run faster. The Babcock always refused, so Kieth directed his ire at the poor pressman.

  3. Clark Turner says:

    I’m delighted that the old Miehle lives!

    Ken Champney taught me how to feed a sheet of paper into this press: lift the corner of the sheet and give it a little flip so that a cushion of air gets under it, then float the sheet into the feed rollers into the press. I can’t remember how many sheets I mangled until I became proficient :-(

  4. Dan Plecha says:

    You’re right, BM; especially if you thought that old friend had retired a long time ago!

  5. Bill McCuddy says:

    This is so cool! I ran that press for several years under the patient instruction of Tracy Logan and Ken Champney and, finally, helped move it out when we went offset. It’s great to see it up and running again…like seeing an old friend.

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