University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Antique press makes new home at UND

Professor of Art Kim Fink has dreamed of owning one of the oldest lithographic presses since his art school days, when he

Brisset Press

Brisset Press

worked on one while completing his second year of graduate school in Rome, Italy. He immediately fell in love with the press, a 150 year-old, mostly oak press, and liked how it handled and how it looked.

After a year of working on the Italian star wheel press, he graduated and moved back to his home state of California, where he soon forgot of his love for this antique press. Until recently. After taking a workshop at the Arti Visive School of the Arts in Florence, Italy, in the summer of 2012, he was able to print on one used at the Florentine art school. Soon after returning to the U.S., he spotted an ad run by StoneMetal Press, located in San Antonio, Texas, selling a French Brisset Star Wheel Lithography Press. After talking with StoneMetal director Glenn Faulk by phone and e-mails, he purchased the press and moved it to Grand Forks last June.

Nicknamed the "horned beast" because of its unique shape, the press was constructed sometime between 1825 and 1840.  It was one of the first mass manufactured lithography presses, with approximately 1,500 being made in France alone, and is arguably one of the oldest lithography presses in the United States and perhaps the only French press (Italian, English and German versions were also constructed during the early to mid-1800's).   A total of five known presses exist in the U.S. today, curiously, most located in Texas. Mr. Faulk informed that the press was donated some decades earlier to the print center by a woman who said it was "smuggled out of occupied Paris" during World War II. Presses such as this were responsible for producing lithographs for such illustrious French artists as Honore' Daumier, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Braque and Edgar Degas.