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TorontoMet welcomes historic Hoe flatbed letterpress

August 21, 2023  By PrintAction Staff

Ian Baitz, Natalia Lumby, Nick Howard, Sarah Howard and Liana Howard at the dedication.

Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) was recently donated a R. Hoe & Co. hand iron press by Howard Graphic Equipment, a printing museum and restoration specialist in Oakville, Ont.

The historic pre-1850 Hoe flatbed letterpress has been installed in the main lobby of the Graphic Communications Management (GCM) program, which is located at the Heidelberg Centre, TMU.

The press was restored by a team led by print historian and industry veteran Nick Howard.


“Constructed in New York (Bronx), it was a very successful design utilized by printers and newspapers alike. Its iconic shape has been used for over a century on letterheads and logos of printers across North America. Howard Graphic Equipment restored and rebuilt this press here at our facilities in Oakville,” said Nick.

The press was moved and installed by Nick, Prof. Art Seto, Prof. Martin Habekost, Prof. Ian Baitz, Khaled Ahmed, IT specialist, TMU, and student helpers Hayden McGreal and Will Snyder. It is now the third (and oldest) piece of historic equipment in the GCM lobby. It’ll complement the Intertype typecasting machine and the Heidelberg platen press.

“When Ryerson Institute of Technology was started in 1948 in response to the need for skilled tradespeople following the Second World War, the Graphics Arts program was one of the original programs to be established. At that time, letterpress was the printing process of the day, but was replaced by offset printing in the 1960’s. GCM is pleased to receive a fully restored and operational Washington press that students can use to learn about print history and to produce some beautiful letterpress printed work. Many thanks to Nick and Liana Howard of Howard Graphic Equipment for the donation,” added Seto.

This beautifully restored press is fully operational, and can be used to print from letterpress wood or metal type, cuts and forms. The GCM team looks forward to showing its capabilities at future events.

“At GCM we make everything we design. The press is very tactile and makes beautiful prints. We are grateful to Nick for trusting us with this piece of history, and are thrilled that it’s operational,” said Natalia Lumby, chair, GCM.

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