Compositer selecting the metal type from the upper and lower type cases or printers drawers
Little Things in Printers Tray
Richard Baldwin Designer Maker

About the Designer Maker

This is a collection of printers tray artworks and printers tray ideas and lately cabinets of curiosity and assemblage art which I have created over the last decade.

Yes, it is a passion and fascination with creating mini artworks all housed within old wooden letterpress printers tray drawers.

I have been collecting small, mostly vintage items, for decades. This includes finding objects in nature, visiting auction houses, charity shops, antique and curio shops, car boots and generally picking up 'little things' as I like to call them for ages. I store these in my workshop and create original artworks in my studio (kitchen diner ahah!)

I came across my first printers tray artwork back in the late 1980's, in a London flat, which had been created by a graphic designer friend of mine.

After studying at the London College of Printing, working in advertising, graphic design and publishing I now create these artworks and sell them on Ebay & Etsy, when not working as a PA for a person with disabilities in Leeds.

I love creating them and can spend many hours putting one together - it's more a love of making things and creating them in the spaces provided that I find most enjoyable. No two are ever alike.

I hope you find some inspiration and printers tray ideas if you are planning on creating your own but don't underestimate the time, cost and creative process involved - not to mention getting hold of the vintage printers trays and preparing and cleaning them.

If you find a printers tray artwork you are interested in please email me (or go to ebay or etsy by clicking on the image) and I'll give you a price and P&P costs to your country & area.

Thank you for looking and remember - "to see world in a grain off sand……"

Richard Baldwin

The Printers Tray

A very brief introduction to the letterpress printers tray case.

The 'printers tray' as it is most commonly known was used to hold a large number of individual metal characters or letters from a particular typeface or font, and of a particular size i.e. 12pt Times Italic. In the industry they were often called job cases.

The compositor or typesetter would place the individual letters into a compositors stick - the man in the picture is holding one.

They were used in the letterpress printing process and some niche printers still use this method of printing today.

The printers trays were in fact more like wide thin drawers that would be housed in a wooden or metal cabinet and pulled out when needed.

Most printers trays and cabinets were made by specialist foundry's and manufacturers from the 19th century to the 1960's.

Because of the need to hold, support and separate heavy metal type they were particularly well made with solid wood and finger or dovetail joints at the corners and often brass cross shaped fixings/supports at the intersections of the small wooden compartments. Some have lovely ornate handles.