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October 29, 2023

The Korrex Berlin Special Hand letterpress

Our main letterpress machine

The Korrex Berlin Hand letterpress proofing press exemplifies German engineering. Made in the 1970’s at Max Simmel Maschinenfabrik, in Berlin, Germany, the Korrex press even now runs as smooth as silk. Today, the company no longer exists and parts for the machine are hard to come by, so when repairs are needed, then creative actions are required.

 

The product brochure may be found here, at the Documentatie – Drukwerk in de Marge.

The journey towards our custodianship

For many years, press was installed in the Printing School of Auckland Technical Institute, but after the school was regrettably closed without warning in the late 1990s, the press was left in storage and more or less forgotten. The years rolled by and it was used infrequently, variously finding itself as a loading dock for paper and other materials, in the middle of extensive renovations that occurred around it, and generally neglected. Karol Wilczynska set out to revive its fortunes by designing a print studio around the press and its associated equipment. In its new home, the press was then put to great use, with classes of students learning about type and letterpress in the years 2008-2016. But in 2016 a technician decided to decommission the press, although the reasoning is not clear. The effect was that the press was declared unsafe and from that point, equipment is required to be disposed of as scrap.

So we presented the school with a proposition, to remove the press from its 7th floor location at our own cost and to take the now scrap value proofing press off their hands. The proposal was accepted, along with any associated equipment with the press. That included a stone for setting type, quoins, a chase cabinets with four chases, a galley cabinet with trays, and some odds and ends, with the offer to receive more once the collection was available. At that time it was suggested that several drawers of type, the remaining chases and containers of furniture – all to be collected at our cost at a later date.

Korrex rescue mission

To remove the press required to efforts a team of movers and heavy lifting equipment and a friend with a large truck with a big HIAB crane on it. It meant closing an inner city street so the truck could stop in the middle of it, extending its boom across the to side of the road where the press and other heavy items waited to be lifted onto a heavy duty trailer. A slick operation that took only 1 hour to complete the job of loading the press, stone, and other steel cabinetry, but making the load safe for a 315km journey to its new home took longer.

Having arrived, the press waited patiently while we found the time to undertake a long and careful clean up operation. Learning more about its intricacies, fixing damaged parts, and establishing a process for its use.

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