Only on Saturday: The Wood Type Prints of Jack Stauffacher


edited by Chuck Byrne

A stunning tribute to the experimental letterpress prints of the revered scholar-printer and AIGA medalist Jack Stauffacher.

The first comprehensive look at Stauffacher’s striking typographic experiments, in which he used a box of worn, mismatched wood type to transform letters from legibility workhorses into expressive studies of surface, color, and form.

Created in his off-hours on the weekend and in part inspired by the modern artists of his day, Jack Stauffacher’s exquisite prints demonstrate what wood type can do when released from its role in traditional communication and instead used to explore letters as pure form. In the resulting abstract, dynamically composed, often lushly layered prints, Stauffacher reclaims typography as a subject fit for the gallery wall.

Featuring 500 images (most of which have never appeared in a publication before) and essays by collaborators from the worlds of art and typography, Only on Saturday is the first trade book to document the work of one of the past century’s great typographers and printers―and offer the compelling backstory behind its creation.

These prized compositions — some patterned with letters in different sizes, typefaces, and inks; some layered with multiple presses of a single letter; others awash in solvent — morphed from exploratory pieces made during his off hours into formal studies of what was possible between the positive and negative spaces on a page. Toward the end of his life, Stauffacher expressed that these prints were “experimental up to a point”: a series of investigations that, once complete, yielded a deliberate statement of design. Today, they are in the permanent collections of many major museums.

Hardcover | 239 pages | Letterform Archive Books | 2023

Born in 1920 in San Mateo, California, Jack Stauffacher was a printer, typographer and fine-book publisher whose delicate yet graphic sensibility landed his work first in library rare book collections and then in museums such as SFMOMA and LACMA, who sought out his typographic prints. A printer of exceptional skill who began his apprenticeship at the age of 16, Stauffacher created books for his Greenwood Press off and on for eight decades. He taught typography at Carnegie Mellon and the San Francisco Art Institute, and served as typographic director at Stanford University Press. But it was his later wood type prints that ushered his career into the realm of fine art. Stauffacher created these innovative and elegant prints from 1966 until his death in 2017 at the age of 96. In recognition of his contributions to typography and design, he was awarded an AIGA Medal in 2004.

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