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Antique Stores as The Occasional Letterpress Find and a Brief History of My Skateboarding Career

The first time I went into a thrift store I was in 9th grade. At the time I was a recovering sports-playing, kind-of-popular kid. I was shedding that identity and ended up taking up with the skater kids, who also were talented artists as well. This was the 90s and tiny skate board wheels had come into fashion as had insanely huge pants and shorts. But so were vintage work shirts — at least among this crew. I traded in my beloved Hard Rock Cafe shirt for a thin, light blue button up work shirt with name "Bob" embroidered on it. I might have paid .75 cents for it then. Paired with my oversized pants and horrible attempts at creating a tag for myself I had a new identity.

I was pretty happy with this oversized not-quite-vintage —but worn-in —work shirt I could totally do crappy grinds and ollies in. My skating phase didn't last long as I realized where my talents were certainly not. But this was the beginning of a life-long relationship with antique & thrift stores. 

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Over the weekend I went to the Front Range Mercantile with my wife and mother-in-law to browse and see if there's anything we can't live without. It should be noted that I am not really interested in collecting more stuff, unless it's letterpress-related. I try and practice a clutter free life as the stress of having too much stuff inhibits the creative process. I don't need a book to tell me that. Get rid of your extra shit. But it doesn't hurt to look, of course.

Immediately, I discovered a box of orphaned type and a few misc. advertising logo cuts. Cuts are easy to pass on as they are usually very specific, small — and in poor shape. There are some gems out there and they are getting harder and harder to come across. But I have enough "Ford" and misc. logos I have never printed with already in my collection. But the type is what breaks my heart. Seeing it piled up in a box, knowing most of it will never get printed again.

I can see there were probably 5 fonts broken up over the course of who knows how many years. Whittled down to a mangy collection of 40 or so pieces, long parted from their original alphabet friends. Left in a bucket for people to sort through and select 1 or 2 letters. Type and cuts are the only things I want to find in a vintage setting anymore. But once I see how they have been piece mealed out for the best cost (average is $3-$4 per letter) it a little upsetting. A beautiful, hand-made font has been parted out for the best possible prices and sold to people presumably who just want their initials to put on a shelf or something similar. 

But I spent my time sorting through the sad collection of random letters and found a "1" and and "8" that were in decent condition, cool-looking and from the same font. There's a great chance these numbers will get printed in near future for hand-set type projects or during a letterpress workshop. Nearby, I also found a couple of stamps I can use to punch up my packages when shipping. 

Did I mention I got a vintage western shirt? Yep, I still haven't lost the need to rescue a good shirt either.

More pics from this excursion and daily shenanigans on my Instagram page.

Letterpress wood type Boulder Longmont Denver Front Range Mercantile Antique type stamps



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