Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ancient Print Shop and a Snow Day...

There was snow in Venice over the weekend and it was chilly...So before sunrise I went down to
Piazza San Marco to catch one of those photo opportunities with a virgin blanket of snow...
It did snow, but not enough to cover up the previous evenings activities.

As the sun was popping through the morning clouds, Venetians were working, a photographer and 2 oarsmen...by the look of those varnished oars they are probably going to their club to row in their sandolos, elegant little water craft...for getting about and for sport.

The sunrise view of San Giorgio from the Piazzetta....gondola bianca con neve..

My morning task was to pick up my name cards at the printer, stampatore, and when I got there Gianni Basso was excited about the snow, and not just because he is leaving for the Dolomites for 2 weeks.  The snow has filled the courtyard in back:

As can be seen, the snow is on the branches, leaves and vines of the rear courtyard.  Note the Napoleonic cavaliers in the snow at  P San Marco...actually reenactors from several years ago.

When I was there several days earlier to place my order the view was similar... con non neve.

Then I got the actual press wheel, which I seemed to think important at the time...

Here is the whole set up, from the 19th Century, with lead type, engraved maps and views and
the first printed copy of Pinnochio, (yea, a Veneziani ), here are some illustrations...

And the proprietor Gianni, and his son Stefano, the apprentice.

Gianni has been here for over 30 years and when he took over the shop he had apprentices from the Armenian monastery next door.  The novices would work for a year and others would replace them...thats gone now as the whole monastery went back to Armenia 15 years ago.   Alas, primogeniture, get the son to get to work...

They are surrounded by the shop's production of the last 150 years and often it, at least new copies from the same press, can be purchased along with the usual business cards, thank you notes and whatever modern man needs in the way of personal custom printing.

There are enough printing presses here to invent mass production, but...such is not their interest, Gianni is off to his family ski vacation...sci.

Probably would not get these kind of jobs anyway.

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