Legacy of Letters 2023: Letterpress Extravaganza—4. Casteggio

July 3, 2023 | Day 4

Il Buon Tempo

The last time that Legacy of Letters visited Il Buon Tempo, Lucio Passerini’s private press, was in 2015. At that time it was located in Milano. In the spring of 2022 Lucio moved the press from Milano to Casteggio, a town in the Oltrepo region south of Pavia. In doing so, he more than doubled his space. We had arranged to spend the whole day at the new location of Il Buon Tempo. It was an opportunity to leisurely look at Lucio’s body of work, especially the projects he has created since 2015, before printing a keepsake alphabet.

View of the new location of Il Buon Tempo in Casteggio. Visible are Jacob Ford, Susan Fitzgerald, and Shaqa Bovand. The loft contains Lucio’s office as well as a sofa and bed. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

A page from Duccio, il Pittore Elettrodomestico by Valeria Brancoforte (Il Buon Tempo, 1996). Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Lucio Passerini showing a book illustrated with his linoleum cuts. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Fred Wiltshire, Stefano Baldassari, Eran Ben Barak, and Jacob Ford looking at several typographic broadsides printed by Lucio Passerini. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

After looking at a wide range of Lucio’s work—books, broadsides, and cards—both illustrated and typographic, we had lunch in the studio. It was catered by Lucio’s friends in Casteggio. During lunch it was an opportunity to pepper Lucio with questions about his work, his aesthetic philosophy, his presses and other equipment, and the typefaces he owned.

Lunch at Il Buon Tempo. Photograph by Jen Thomas.

Shaded wood type owned by Lucio Passerini. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

In the afternoon we printed an alphabet keepsake to go with the one from Archivio Tipografico. We used a Dell’Orto hand press that is on loan to Lucio from the Tipoteca. Since the participants had already been instructed in the basics of operating a platen hand press at Editore Tallone, they used the time to experiment with different color combinations for the tripartite design of the wood type alphabet. The inking was done with a hand-held brayer. The prints were carefully curated before being hung up to dry on wires.

Eran Ben Barak inking the type with a hand brayer. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Susan Fitzgerald pulling the bar (with Lucio Passerini’s help) of the platen hand press. Eran Ben Barak is watching. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Stefano Baldassari and Lucio Passerini checking the completed print. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Hofi Benediktsdóttir retouching a print. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

Shaqa Bovand and Jen Thomas collating and slip-sheeting the finished prints. Photograph by Paul Shaw.

The day at Il Buon Tempo was marvelous (see Jacob Ford’s speedy video). Lucio Passerini was, as ever, amiable and supportive. He gently helped the participants when they encountered problems in pulling the bar, adjusting the inking of the type, retouching the prints, etc. Otherwise, he allowed them to take over.

Lucio preparing to mix ink as Stefano Baldassari watches. Photograph by Paul Shaw.