and Edgar Miller
One week before the national COVID19 shutdown in March, the International Printing Museum’s Curator Mark Barbour was in Chicago. He was there to load up a Penske truck with gems of printing history, several of which he was working on acquiring for nearly 15 years. The donor of the artifacts was Jerome Kosoglad of Wheeling, IL (suburb of Chicago), who, with his late father Leonard, operated IPEC Inc., dealers in used printing equipment. Over the years, Leonard added unique printing presses and artifacts to his personal museum, many of which he acquired during liquidation of printing plants.
When Mark visited IPEC about 15 years ago, the equipment business now operated by Jerome was in decline and many of the old presses from Leonard’s collection were no longer there. In the warehouse, against a far wall with plenty of dust covering it, Mark spotted the gem he was after for the Printing Museum: a mid-19th century wooden lithographic press, something missing in the Museum’s story on printing history.
At that time, Jerome was not ready to part with this beautiful press, and so it sat until March of this year when Mark arrived with a truck. The business was closed, the building sold and now Jerome was ready to make a donation in memory of his father Leonard whose history with selling printing machines in the Midwest dated back to the 1940’s.
Measuring in at nearly 8’ long, the lithographic press remains in remarkable working condition given its age of 150 years. The press was made in France by J. Busser and sold to lithographic printers throughout Europe and even America. Presses of this style were used to print many of the color posters of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is estimated that about 15 of these presses have survived in America, often still used by artists to print limited edition lithographic posters.
And the 24” x 30” lithographic stone displayed with the press is the second gem in this acquisition. The drawing on the stone is of Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, “Looking Out to Sea.”
Leonard and Jerome both believed it to be drawn by Rockwell himself, which would explain their reluctance to part with the press and stone all these years. Mark’s recent research concluded that Rockwell never worked in stone lithography; however, Rockwell did commission both lithograph and collotype prints of many of his paintings to be sold in the 1960’s through the early 1980’s. The Norman Rockwell Museum indicated that he commissioned this particular single color lithograph from one of two stone lithographic printers in New York City. The press and the stone probably came from that shop many years ago. They will now continue their long relationship at the International Printing Museum as part of the Leonard Kosoglad Collection.
Next to the press in the Kosoglad warehouse all these years, well-packed inside a wooden crate, were six hand-painted windows depicting the history of printing. Only one of the windows was partially visible, detailing a few beautifully painted scenes from 15th century printing shops. Intriguing to be sure, but Mark was not sure what they were or even the details of what was on each pane. The mystery would have to wait until the truck was unloaded a week later back at the Printing Museum.
That crate turned out to be another set of gems with a story all their own. We discovered we had windows painted by the famous Chicago artist, Edgar Miller.