Hatch Show Print Celebrates 140 Years of Letterpress Printing


Hatch Show Print, one of the oldest working letterpress poster and design shops in North America, celebrates its milestone 140th birthday this month. Brothers Charles and Herbert Hatch founded their business on April 12, 1879, as C.R. & H.H. Hatch, Printers. Hatch Show Print thrives in the 21st century, while its traditions and techniques remain rooted in the foundations of design and printing.

With their very first print job – a handbill announcing a speaking engagement by Rev. Henry Ward Beecher (brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe) – the Hatch brothers produced a simple design that struck an effortless balance between type size and style, and what is frequently called a ‘poster style’ layout.

Today, Hatch Show Print staff rely on the same techniques used years ago by Charles and Herbert Hatch. Led by shop manager Celene Aubry, the Hatch staff pull from extensive archives of thousands of hand-carved wood blocks to produce posters for shows, events, advertising and more. They still set wood and metal type by hand and produce all the print work on printing presses that are between 50 and 100-plus years old.

Hatch Show Print’s history reflects the full spectrum of American entertainment from the late 1800s to the present. Since its founding, the shop has provided performers – from circuses and traveling vaudeville shows to Grand Ole Opry stars and touring rock bands – with vibrant posters that combine color, individuality and bold, tactile design. The shop designs and prints about 600 different posters a year for classic and contemporary artists including Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves, Beyonce and Guns N’ Roses. In addition to producing frame-worthy music posters, Hatch Show Print has designed artwork for diverse projects including an art book on photography, food packaging for a U.K.-based entrepreneur and a United States postage stamp.

Located inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (which owns and operates the shop) Hatch Show Print offers tours to the pubic to the tune of nearly 2,000 a year – all by a dedicated team of educators.

Special exhibitions and events will mark Hatch Show Print’s 140th anniversary.

Saturday, April 6, 2019: Hatch Show Print unveils a visual retrospective of the shop’s work, stretching from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Community Corridor to the connecting Omni Nashville Hotel lobby. The exhibition Every Poster Tells a Story: 140 Years of Hatch Show Print allows guests to experience and learn about the shop’s 140-year history through a collection of posters, blocks and memorabilia. On view until April 2020, this retrospective focuses on pivotal periods in the history of Hatch Show Print, from its founding in 1879 as C.R. & H.H. Hatch, Printers, to its golden age in the 1920s led by Will T. Hatch, to the shop’s continued breadth and scope of work and long-standing dedication to its “preservation through production” mantra.

April 6 to July 7, 2019: Alumni Invitational: Celebrating 140 Years of Printing, showcasing the work of former Hatch Show Print employees. The exhibition, in Hatch Show Print’s Haley Gallery, includes prints, paintings, screen prints and more. All work on view will be available for purchase; prices and details available upon request.

April 12, 2019: Hatch Show Print invites the entire Nashville community to celebrate its official 140th birthday on Friday, April 12, 2019. The first 140 visitors to Hatch Show Print that day will have the chance to print the final color on limited-edition, commemorative birthday posters. Cupcakes will be served, and limited-edition “Hatch Show Print 140” birthday prints and T-shirts will be available for purchase in the store.

Other events include:

June 20 to June 23, 2019: Wayzgoose, the annual conference of the Amalgamated Printers’ Association, an organization that includes letterpress printers with varied experience, including hobbyists, artists, and commercial print shop owners and operators. The event includes workshops, demos, a printers’ flea market and auction, a steamroller street activation on downtown Nashville’s Fifth Avenue and speaking engagements by members of the letterpress community.

Sept. 14 to Sept. 15, 2019: Hatch Show Print will host a two-day event celebrating works on paper in the Haley Gallery. Visitors can witness the printing of monumental wood-block prints carved by artists from throughout the region. During this time, BIG INK will assemble a giant, portable printing press inside Hatch Show Print’s Gallery for the sole purpose of helping artists print these wood blocks, some of which can reach nearly 4 x 8 feet in dimension.

To learn more about the history of Hatch Show Print and its 140th-anniversary programming, visit HatchShowPrint.com.

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Bethany Bowman is an entertainer writer from Nashville, TN. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Photo “Hatch Show Print” by Hatch Show Print.








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