Home News Local News Pieces of publishing history returned to RDR

Pieces of publishing history returned to RDR

Phelps Anderson holds the letterpress type case cabinet’s original shipping tag and stands with Publisher Barbara Beck shortly after the piece was delivered to the Daily Record recently. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Two pieces of newspaper history — a vintage letterpress type case and double bank typesetter station — were added to the collection of printing and publishing artifacts in the Roswell Daily Record’s lobby at the beginning of April.

This image shows the Pecos Valley Register Office in 1890, with the newspaper staff with typesetters and a dog gazing at the viewer. “Images of America: Roswell”, local author John LeMay’s book, features this image on the cover. LeMay wrote that the people in the image are J.A. Erwin, editor and owner (seated), his wife Nell G. Erwin and her brother Lou Fullen standing at the double bank type station. (Courtesy of Historical Society of Southeastern New Mexico Archives, #3424.)

Publisher Barbara Beck said the type case cabinet was donated by Phelps Anderson, and the double bank typesetter station was bought at auction.


“The Roswell Daily Record has a long history in the community of Roswell,” Beck said. “We are very pleased to receive back a piece of our history, which is now on display at the newspaper office. I would like to thank Mr. Anderson for so kindly returning our original letterpress font cabinet, which was used at the newspaper a century ago. We have acquired a nice collection of newspaper heritage items, which we know were used on a daily basis at the Roswell Daily Record in the past.”

Anderson said he assumed, because of information on a shipping tag, that the cabinet came to Roswell at some point on a wagon or railroad.

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The type case cabinet has the Hamilton Manufacturing Company’s seal carved inside. The company was located in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and was known for making wood type originally. They added printing cabinets to their products in the mid-1800s, according to the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum’s website.

Thomas Leech, from the Palace Print Shop & Bindery in Santa Fe, said the New Mexico Museum of Art has acquired similar equipment from the Estancia News-Herald. Leech said that equipment dates to the first decade of the 20th century and Roswell’s type station could be of the same vintage.

With help from Janice Dunahoo at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Museum Archives Center, the Daily Record found a photo of the Roswell Register Office, circa 1890, showing three people with a similar double bank typesetting station.

Anderson said John Migs, an artist from San Patricio, originally told him about the press equipment. He asked if Anderson would buy these items — because they had to be sold or moved since the Daily Record was moving to its new location on North Main Street. Anderson said the cabinet and the typesetting station were held in a sheep barn in Lincoln for a few decades and another 20 years in an old school building in Picacho. The original press and heavier items were sold over the years and Anderson said he wanted to return some of the original items to Beck.

According to Historian Elvis Fleming’s narrative from the Daily Record’s 100-anniversary special section in 1991, the last edition from the letterpress was printed on June 27, 1971 after two fires solidified plans to move from 424 North Main Street to the paper’s current location at 2301 North Main Street.

Anderson has a history of returning pieces of Daily Record history to the paper. He describes himself as a “history buff” and said that the Beck and Anderson families have “a close Roswell friendship.”

Anderson said he remembered when the Daily Record stood where the John Chisum statue now stands in Pioneer Plaza in downtown Roswell. As far as collecting some of the paper’s history, he was unsure whether it happened before or after that building sat unoccupied — but does recall that the whole situation happened quickly.

“Remember driving down Main Street and seeing the bulldozer knocking down the old Roswell Daily Record building,” Anderson said. “Bob and Marge still lived here then and I sort of jumped out of my car and grabbed two bricks and put them in the car. I kept one brick and I knew where Bob Beck had his small office — I think the petroleum club. Anyway, I went by and talked to a nice lady and said ‘Here, I want Bob to have this.’ He called me and he really appreciated having a brick from the old Roswell building — one of those spontaneous things you think of — and he really appreciated and got a kick out of it.”

“I think these everyday artifacts from the newspaper world of yesterday are important because they remind us to remember and treasure the free press — even in the little frontier New Mexican town of Roswell,” Beck said.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.  

The double bank typesetter station arrived after the type case, and is estimated to have been made near the end of the 19th century. Phelps Anderson said the piece was in use at the Daily Record at one point. (Alison Penn Photo)

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