The Craftsman Press Archive is a visibility project curated and researched by me, Sonia Farmer, with the generous assistance from The Bahamas public.
In 2012, I initiated a conversation with the Johnson family to acquire a printing press and auxiliary equipment from The Craftsman Press, a prosperous printing enterprise founded and operated by Oscar Johnson Sr. from 1954 until its closure in 2001, for use in my independent press projects under Poinciana Paper Press.
After the family kindly obliged, a Chandler & Price press, along with several typecases and miscellaneous printing equipment, was relocated from The Craftsman Press property on Oakes Field to the Poinciana Paper Press studio space on Shirley Park Avenue.
In exploring, restoring, and organizing this equipment, I came across several drawers labeled “CUTS”, with indistinguishable printing blocks inside. After applying a little elbow grease to the surface, images of vintage logos started to appear of bygone Nassau institutions such as beloved hotels, bars, clubs, stores, and organizations.
Though these spaces have been erased from the map, they hold strong in the collective cultural consciousness of everyday Bahamians. The mission of The Craftsman Press Archive is to make these spaces visible and accessible through a free online platform of research, resources, and public contributions. By placing these spaces back onto the map and using these printing cuts to generate a collective memory of stories and ephemera, we can recall these important Bahamian institutions back from obscurity.
The core of this collection is made up of approx. 50 printing blocks with logos custom cut onto the surface, though we also showcase a variety of type specimens from The Craftsman Press type collection. All of these items were utilized in the process of letterpress printing, a relief printing technique whereby raised inked forms would leave a debossed impression on sheets of paper to create a print.