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The Essex Country Show
A Triumph!

13th & 14th September 2014

Rudyard Kipling once wrote in his famous poem “If”
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two imposters just the same”

Well, the combined members of the Essex Branch under their noble Leader Len Friend had done just that. Last year we had planned to have two tents, doubling the size of our normal exhibition site, plus an array of printing machines including a treadle press complete with flywheel. Alas fate decreed otherwise and Len was laid low with an infection acquired on holiday. We did our best at the decidedly damp show, but it was not our finest hour. Fast forward a year, and what a difference. We returned with a vengeance. A huge marquee filled with five printing presses and a team of nine, all keen to do their best at spreading the word that printing can be great fun.
Essex Branch Marquee
The Essex Country Show was spread over two days on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September, but an advance team consisting of Len Friend, Ron and Margaret Rooks, and Len’s Son Colin, spent four hours on the Friday preparing our pitch and erecting the marquee, tables, etc.

Our team on the Saturday consisted of Len, Chris. Brinson, Jenny Brinson John Alexander and Julie Alexander, Ron Rookes, Margaret Rookes, and Colin Friend.The printing equipment on display and actually printing (our show is a very hands- on experience) consisted of a 1935 Adana high speed 2, An Adana 8x5, a 5x3 Adana jigged up to do embossing, a lovely Adana Quarto flatbed courtesy of John Alexander, and the prize exhibit, a 1900 Golding Pearl with flywheel, courtesy of The Crescent Card Co. Altogether it made an intriguing display and we had much to offer in the way of printed keepsakes, souvenir pieces and cards with local views.
Chris. Brinson and the Adana 8x5
All our members had made a special effort with their printed give-aways. Chris. Brinson was offering a handsome souvenir bookmark in red white and blue, complete with the society logo, and he had a popular novelty in the form of an “Essex bookmark” in “blingy” gold blue and scarlet .Len Friend was offering a delightful certificate in full colour which could be over printed with the customer’s name. John Alexander had an exquisite piece on the history of printing together with an illustration of an historic press which could be printed by the visitor themselves on the Adana H.Q. John also had a good line in humorous  cards which proved to be popular and amusing. Ron Rookes was kept busy working the Adana high Speed, with a constant supply of charming cat illustrations. Julie Alexander our origami expert produced printer’s hats for all and sundry (see illustration) I must say that I felt a bit like Eric Gill, with my paper hat and newly grown beard. On the Sunday we were joined by Pat Walker from the Aspen Press. We were delighted to see her again, and she had some exciting news that her press has recently acquired a Golding Pearl press, which we all look forward to seeing in due course.
Len Friend at the Pearl platten press and typesetting
The country show which is huge in size enjoyed a steady flow through of people of all ages, and I am glad to say that we had a vast quantity of people who seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing. Nostalgia seemed to be a great motivator, and we had people waxing lyrical about the John Bull printing outfit that they had enjoyed as children. Many visitors said they had once owned an Adana, and of course many had actually had a career in the printing trade, so it was memory lane for a lot of happy people. It was good to meet our latest recruit, Thomas Lemon from Rainham. By far the most rewarding response for our efforts came from the younger age group. For young art students it was an eye-opener to see letterpress in all its glory, and it seems to be a very trendy thing to do at the moment. “Oh cool!” was the usual response when the younger children printed an illustration or stock block. The magic of “the black art” does not seem to have lost its appeal.

And so ended our latest and greatest effort. Two days of letterpress delight, surrounded by our society of friends. I think our little society has made many more friends and admirers for the B.P.S. Long may it continue.

Report by Chris. Brinson - Photography Ron Rookes

Pearl treadle press and typesetting