June 1st, 2012 will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the day that one of my long-held artistamp dreams came true.
For years, I’d been on the hunt for a Rosback perforator – the “holy grail” of artistamp makers. Still in business today, the Rosback Company in St. Joseph, Michigan manufactures a range of equipment for binderies: perfect binders, paper drills, saddle stitchers, and yes – perforators.
But my heart was set on one of their “old school” models: something foot operated, manufactured in the 1880’s (or there abouts). I knew other artistamp makers who had their own Rosbacks; they all told me different versions of the same stories: they’d inherited their perforators from other artistamp makers or looked for years to find such a machine, usually in a dusty warehouse or at an auction sale.
I took to combing Craig’s List at odd hours of the night, using search terms that were only vaguely related to printing equipment. And then one day in May, I received an email. There was a Rosback for sale, closer than I had dared to hope: a barn in Napa! Unbelievable.
More emails sent quickly back and forth — it was decided: I was the proud owner of a Rosback perforator, circa 1888!
That meant making space in the studio:
And getting things out of the way:
June 1st : the big day had arrived. “Mr. Rosback” arrived in the neighborhood on the back of a liftgate truck, to the amazement of neighbors. I imagined the truck driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, freeway drivers catching a glimpse of this crazy looking machine and wondering to themselves “what the heck is THAT?!?”
As it was, people walking past the studio stopped to ask that very question. “It’s a perforator,” I’d reply proudly. “for making postage stamps.” Incredulous, the neighbors wanted to know more, see how such a thing worked.
All told, the move was over and done with in a quick 45 minutes. After all the bustle had died down, I spent the rest of the day making friends with my new BFF. That meant disassembling all moving parts, tabletop to under-the-hood. Mr. Rosback was in good shape, but after living in a barn in Napa for well over a decade (or more), he was ready for a good scrubbing and oiling.
I replaced some of the older perforating pins with nice sharp ones and refinished the work surface using linseed oil (as suggested by Nick Yeager of Biblioforge). Suddenly, the studio smelled like a painter’s atelier – which I loved. I imagined Mr. Rosback settling in to my cozy space, enjoying the garden outside and Oscar Peterson playing on the radio.
One year later and we’ve created many stamp sheets together, Mr. Rosback and I. With every artistamp project I pull together, I’m thankful we managed to find each other in the giant wilderness of printing and binding equipment. For my fine perforating friend I say this: happy anniversary to you – and may this be the first of many years to come!
PS: interested in perforated sheets for your artistamps? Get in touch; I may have just the thing on hand!