BritishLetterpress.co.uk has to be one of the best destinations on the Web for letterpress hobbyists or anyone else with an interest in the art of printing with handset type on hand- or treadle-operated iron presses. Although intended primarily for practitioners in the U.K., the site’s wealth of practical material is a valuable resource for letterpress enthusiasts everywhere. There are sections on presses, type, composition, printing techniques, and binding. The site also posts content about the history of the letterpress printing industry and keeps tabs on the hobbyist scene in Britain today. Here’s a snippet of the kinds of advice it offers to latter-day emulators of Gutenberg: • Transport and Movement: The people who made type and equipment had a knack of making very heavy things. Presses are cast iron; type is made mainly from lead. You might need transport (like an estate car or van), and you’ll need the physical means of moving it between places. • Willingness to Renovate: How much time do you want to spend cleaning, polishing, painting? People will often have letterpress equipment that’s not been used for years, perhaps sitting in a shed. Do you want to spend a weekend with some wire wool and a bottle of white spirit? Kudos to “Benjamin Brundell and Contributors” (who aren’t further identified at the site) for creating and maintaining BritishLetterpress.co.uk. In Las Vegas, gaming establishments consume a lot of printing—an opportunity seized 37 years ago by Jack Gill, a print broker who opened his own shop just as the city’s casino industry was starting to expand. Today, Gill's Printing, the subject of a recent story in The Las Vegas Review-Journal, operates from three locations, employs 90 people, and keeps its hotel and casino customers well supplied with brochures, place mats, valet parking tickets, and many other kinds of printed items on which the gambling houses rely. The company’s direct-mail operation mounts quick-response marketing campaigns to entice casino customers with giveaways, dining specials, and gaming promotions. The story says that although consolidations and bankruptcies in the city’s gaming industry have hurt other service providers, Gill’s Printing has gained business during the economic downturn. Victor Gill, son of the founder and company president, is quoted as saying that the recession has prompted his casino customers to spend more on print-based promotional campaigns. On January 1, two Honesdale, PA, family firms with 232 years of printing history between them joined forces: Varcoe Printing House, Inc., established in 1878; and Spencer Printing, which first opened its doors in 1910. The Wayne Independent reports that the companies will operate as Spencer Printing, offering a full range of commercial services in a plant at 216 Willow Ave. in Honesdale. Staying on is Rae Ann Bishop, the great-great-granddaughter of William H. Varcoe, who began his namesake business by printing medicine and elixir labels at home. Bishop joined the operation in 1972. In 2005, Spencer Printing was purchased from that family by Nate Zaur, who learned his trade at a print shop in New York City. “It’s two old, family businesses that think we can do better for our customers and better for ourselves by joining together,” he is quoted as saying of the merger. Business West, a commercial newspaper for Western Massachusetts, gave some nice space to a profile of Curry Printing, a family business that has been in operation in West Springfield since 1976. The company began as a franchise purchased by the father of the present owner, Steve Lang, who started working there while still an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts. When the franchisor went out of business, the Langs resolved to continue independently. In the story, Lang attributes the company’s early success to its speed of delivery: “Most regular commercial printers were using metal plates; we were using paper plates, and we could turn around on a dime for short-run, on-demand printing.” Today, in addition to general commercial work, Curry Printing provides blueprints, architectural drawings, signage, and large-format printing. Everything is produced digitally: “We’ve replaced all the traditional offset with digital,” Lang is quoted as saying. “We saw the handwriting on the wall, (and) if you don’t start grasping digital, think about selling your business and doing something else.” Still in business as forward-looking franchisees are Jim and Kari Flaherty, owners of an Allegra Print & Imaging facility in downtown St. Paul, MN. According to a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Flahertys have done well at the location, increasing revenues fivefold since purchasing the franchise in 2007. The story also reports that Flaherty and his wife expect to buy out the Allegra center owned her parents in nearby Arden Hills, a move that would create a two-location business employing about 20 people including Flaherty’s father, two brothers, and a sister. Future plans call for the addition of marketing communication services for small and medium-sized business clients: targeted campaigns involving direct mail, e-mail, social networking, and video. "It doesn't just have to be print," Flaherty is quoted as saying.