At Letterpress PLAY, we’ve named all of our presses after famous women in art history. These important women—some of them whose lives date back to the 1700s—greatly inspire the work we do. To celebrate their legacies, we want to share a little about each of them.
Printer, queer icon, Black icon, and activist. Ruth Ellis was one incredible woman. For the 101 years she was on this planet, Ruth cared for and inspired queer and Black youth by providing a safe place to stay and money for school and books. Her legacy still cares for the underserved today through the Ruth Ellis Center in her town of Detroit. Learn more about Ruth here.
Our machine named after Ruth is the 10X15 Kluge M series, from 1946.
Kay Meyer Graham
Katharine Graham was best known for publishing the Pentagon Papers in her paper The Washington Post, which ultimately took down President Nixon. But Kay was so much more than that. She was the first female publisher of the 20th century and won numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for her autobiography. Though Kay was born to an affluent family, she was treated poorly by her parents and husband, and she worked hard to get to where she got. Her tenacity and whip-smart thinking earned her respect and admiration the world over. Learn more about Kay here.
Our machine named after Kay is the 8X12 Chandler and Price, from 1909.
Friedl Dicker-Brandeis was an Austrian-born painter, architect, and teacher who was murdered by the Nazis at the age of 46. Before her death, she studied at Bauhaus and contributed greatly to communities through her designs and art. While in the Nazi camps, she taught hundreds of young children art in order to help them cope with what they were going through. Sadly, Friedl and many of her students were murdered, but their artwork was found tucked away and is now on display in Europe. Learn more about Friedl here.
Our machine named after Friedl is the Challenge Diamond Power Paper Cutter 30.5, from 1947.
Augusta Lewis Troup
Though Augusta Lewis Troup was born during an era where women were treated as second-class citizens, that didn’t stop her from blazing trails for women after her. At a young age, she became a journalist and typesetter. Then she started the Women’s Typographical Union, the first trade union for women in New York City. Later, alongside her husband, she founded the New Haven Union, a newspaper dedicated to women’s suffrage. She was also a teacher. Today her name sits in the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame for her contributions to women’s rights.
Our machine named after Augusta is the 10X15 Chandler and Price, from 1917.
Judith Solodkin is a printmaker and milliner living in New York City. She was the first woman to graduate the famous Tamarind Institute of Lithography in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a Master Lithographer. Her work has been shown at the Whitney, the Met, Moma, the Tate and more.
Our machine named after Judith is the 12X18 Kluge N Series, from 1947.
In 1738, Elizabeth Timothy became America’s first female newspaper editor and publisher, having taken over a small family paper after her husband died. She was inducted into the South Carolina Press Association Hall of Fame for her contributions.
Our machine named after Eliza is the Alert Rotary press, from 1877.
Eloise Hale Craig
Eloise Hale Craig was born in 1918 during the Spanish flu outbreak. The country doctor that delivered her also carried her home and raised her the first two months of her life while her family recovered. In 2019 she passed peacefully at home, reaching the esteemed age of 100. Out of the need to care for her oldest child, she founded the West Texas Chapter of the American Diabetes Association. To serve the needs of her community, she founded the Eden, Texas, public library from her garage. She was a teacher of ceramics, managing Rosie Riveter during WWII, and a long-standing election judge. Her community valued her contribution as a local historian, volunteer, wife, mother, grand-mother and great-grandmother.
Our machine named after Eloise is the 5X8 Kelsey Mercury Excelsior Model P tabletop press, from 1958.