The Desmyter family has been in the printing & publishing business for 6 generations starting with Erik Desmyter’s great-great-grandfather Eduard Desmyter who took over a handpress printshop in 1856. These handpress printing works were later industrialized during the 19th & early 20th century.

Erik Desmyter, who grew up between old presses, letterpress type & litho stones, has saved and collected several unique antique 19th century handpresses and restored several of them back to original, working condition to keep this knowledge and great tradition of fine handpress printing alive.

Oldest surviving Desmyter book printed & published in 1865 by Eduard Desmyter

donderdag 6 januari 2011

The Desmyter industrialised printing works at the beginning of the 20th century.

Desmyters Dixmudschen Almanach from 1865 is the oldest book printed and published by Eduard Desmyter which was traced sofar. This book was probably printed completely manual on letterpress handpresses.

The Desmyter family home and printing works at the end of the 19th century.

Early 20th century photos of the Desmyter printing works

Large stone litho & letterpress stop-cylinder presses (left column) and wooden & iron handpresses (right column). Bottom left we can see Desiré Desmyter (middle) feeding paper at a large Voirin letterpress stop-cylinderpress around WW1. The large Krause stone litho handpress (bottom right) is the largest surviving handpress of the Desmyter printshops. This very rare press (notice the large litho stone on the press) was restored back to original, working condition by Erik Desmyter and a team of volunteers a few years ago and is currently on display at the MIAT (Museum of Industrial Archealogy and Textile) in Ghent, Belgium where she is used for stone-litho demonstrations and fine-art printing.

Printing for the packaging industry

The Desmyters were specialised during the 19th and most of the 20th century in 4 color lithograhic printing for the packaging industry with matchbox labels as one of the major activities. Above are some nice stone-litho print examples from the Desmyter archives.

Some invoices, pricelists and letterheads from the Desmyters. On the top-right one we see they used 7 mechanical printing presses (= stop-cylinderpresses) and 7 handpresses at the beginning of the 20th century. Around that period more than 50 people were working in the Desmyter printing works in Dixmude, Belgium. On the bottom left invoice we see a very nice cast iron stone-litho handpress. Such a Krause handpress survives in the Desmyter collection of antique printing presses. On the last pricelist we see a letterpress stop-cylinder press with railway mechanism from the 1880s. Such a Brussels made Henri Jullien press, completely restored to original working condition, can also be found in Erik Desmyter’s collection of antique printing presses.

All rights reserved. © Erik Desmyter - more information: erik.desmyter@ironhandpress.com

Desmyter invoices, pricelists and letterheads