Friday, February 20, 2009


Anyone who has checked out my website will know that of the three print shops from which the majority of my shop's equipment comes, one is Na-Vet Printing of Elizabeth, NJ. This great shop was started in 1946 by Lawrence Franchini, appropriately enough a Navy veteran of the war. That's him in the photo above in 1949. Every kind of work traditionally done by a local printer was done in this shop. From tickets for fraternal organizations; handouts for politicians; school and church programs; business cards and stationery; etc.; all of this and more was turned out in support of the community. While Mr. Franchini is no longer with us, the business continues to serve not only the Elizabeth area but an ever increasing sphere in New Jersey and New York thanks to many modern innovations introduced by his son Larry, the current owner.

In addition to its original platen press the shop currently boasts a Heidelberg Cylinder press; a Heidelberg offset press; two Heidelberg windmill presses; an A.B. Dick offset press; and state-of -the-art computer-controled copy and printing machines. A new Ryobi is planned for the near future. The shop foreman John, hired about two years ago to oversee day to day press operations, has more than 20 years experience including solid training and background in letterpress printing. The new and the old are blended together in the right proportions to keep the business moving forward in spite of competition from the corporate printing outlets. Those stores simply cannot provide the breadth of services or depth of experience available from Na-Vet and certainly not the personalized service.

I don't mean this post to sound like a commercial but I have been so impressed with their shop and have been so glad to get to know Larry and John on the two visits I've made to pick up equipment they were selling. I was first introduced about a year and a half ago. They were in the process of getting rid of a lot of type and other extra items to make room for new equipment. A few months ago they aquired a lot of older letterpress equipment from a large shop that closed and two weeks ago I made another visit to pick up some more type. Besides the type and other misc. things I needed, I once again was able to learn so much by watching the ongoing work. John is a great teacher and is quite ready to answer questions and show how things are done while he does them. In fact, he is starting to give letterpress classes both on the Heidelberg windmills and the C&P platen press. You will not go wrong spending a day or even a few hours with him.

How great is it that an active commercial shop is still around doing not only what it has always done but the things that are necessary to compete in the present day also? At some point I will have to get some photos of the shop as it looks today. For now, enjoy the vintage photo above.

1 comment:

Maggie at Gamewell Press said...

I always love these history posts you do. It's great that you know the backstory of so much of your equipment.
It's wonderful that Na-Vet is going to offer classes on the C&P and the Heidelberg. I was recently looking for floor-model platen classes (just one-on-one instruction for a refresher course if I ever do get a Pearl). Most people I spoke with said that because of the danger (I guess that means insurance costs?), they don't offer floor model platen classes.