In 1985 the Museum Meermanno publicised a little volume entitled Drukkers in de marge [Private printers]. This booklet was published on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the ‘Stichting Drukwerk in de Marge’, a foundation for lovers of printing.
In the turbulent sixties many things changed, including printing techniques. Offset took the place of hand-setting and printing with metal type on the hand press; the old material was thrown onto the scrap-heap.
Amateur printers saved a lot of this material and they printed booklets at home, in the garage, kitchen or living room.
In the seventies the number of Dutch private printers increased rapidly, inspired by small presses abroad. The fact that printing required a lot of time indeed was reflected in the names that emerged at that time and afterwards – names like De slofpers [The Shuffle Press], De Lange Afstand [The Long Distance] and Presse d’Escargot [Snail Press].
There have been a lot of discussions about the objectives of the ‘Stichting Drukwerk in de Marge’; those objectives have not always remained the same. In the early years the general consensus was that private printers should ‘hardly be interested’ in sales or turnover, but in 1982 the definition of ‘non-profit’ was stretched: of the 200 private printers that had joined the foundation by then, the majority were now ‘prepared to sell their products so as to recover at least part of their costs.’
The most important thing remained that private printers did not work ‘by virtue of their profession’, which means that they printed in their leisure time, ‘exclusively for their own pleasure’.
That this was a pleasure widely shared is reflected in, among other things, the dozens of projects jointly undertaken by the private printers since 1981. These often involved tributes for printing colleagues. An example is Zo’n uitvreter toch! Een vriendendoos voor Kees Thomassen [What a sponger! A friends’ box for Kees Thomassen]. This beautiful box, containing 23 contributions by private printers, was published in 2000 in an edition of 45 copies.