New England Free Press in 1970

791 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

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Chief 22 offset press

Chief 22

Our Bible was a Navy manual called "Lithographer 3 & 2." All of our equipment was old and cantankerous and  3 & 2 had complete instructions for operating it and keeping it running. Click the image for a pdf of the entire book.

A view of the rear of 791 Tremont St.

The Free Press was located at 791 Tremont St. in Roxbury from 1968 to 1973. The shop was on the fourth floor, and when you got off the elevator, you walked down a wide dark corridor to the front door.

The building was the old Chickering Piano factory and the ceiling had many shafts and pulleys left over from that time. Using a central power source, a line shaft drove the various saws, mills, and lathes via flat leather belts.

In the left near corner was the dark room and copy camera, a beast of a camera about two feet square. The bellows was brittle from years of use and was patched with tape. We could shoot a line negative up to 17" x 22".  The copy board extended into the main shop about ten feet and could accommodate copy up to 36" square.

The two presses were in sight when you entered the front door.


In the far corner, to the left, was the plate burning apparatus. It consisted of a vacuum board that held the plate and negative and two carbon arc lamps which gave out a brilliant light.

Here's a list of our equipment at that time:

  • Copy camera

  • Stripping tables

  • Chief 20 (maximum sheet size 14x20 inches)

  • Chief 22 (maximum sheet size 17-1/2x22-1/2 inches) 

  • Plate burner

  • Three-section Baumfolder

  • 26-inch cutter

  • Stitcher that used a spool of wire to form a staple with the push of a foot lever.

  • A/M Varityper headliner

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) book was essential for our many posters and colorful covers.