The History of Lucky Duck Press

Lucky Duck Press is a direct descendant of Patrick’s great-grandfather’s Sterling Press of Winsted, Connecticut.

The Sterling Press logo

The Sterling Press logo printed from the original printing block

In 1901, Patrick’s great-grandfather, Howard Deming, purchased a printing press by mail  for $36.10 and started The Sterling Press in the small city of Winsted, Connecticut. His business offered announcements, calling cards, invitations and business brochures and was printed by the method of the day, letterpress. He carried on, building this company, for at least seven years. At that point, though, a household crisis caused him to think about another avenue for letterpress printing.

Howard Deming

Patrick's great-grandfather, Howard Deming founded the Sterling Press in Winsted, Connecticut in 1901

Not long after his 1907 wedding, Howard came home from the shop to find his young wife in tears! The laundry had marked her new shirtwaist with a pen and the ink had run, destroying the garment. This led Howard to develop a “wash-proof ink” and a product line of cotton nametapes that could be sewn into garments to identify the owner and eliminate the need
for marking by pen. He found a rich market in institutions with mass laundry service, such as hospitals and boarding schools.

Howard expanded the business, renaming The Sterling Press, The Sterling Name Tape Company. Parents of summer camp attendees became his largest customer group. In fact, if one went to camp in the U.S. prior to 1970 their nametapes were most likely from Sterling!

The company expanded further into personalized goods for campers, such as towels, laundry bags, and backpacks and also began printing labels for crafters and small clothing businesses. Today, my father and brother run Sterling and have continued Howard’s legacy of looking for innovative printing methods for today’s market. (Visit www.sterlingtape.com to see what they’re doing today).

Winsted, CT 1907

A view of a parade on Main Street in Winsted, Connecticut near The Sterling Press in 1907

Over the years, any printing equipment that became outdated was moved to the basement of the Sterling building. And so, just over 100 years after Howard opened his print shop, Patrick brought some of his hand presses and lead type to Brooklyn, and Lucky Duck Press was born!

During the last few years we have returned to the old Connecticut shop to ‘liberate’ Howard’s foot-powered 1889 Golding Pearl Old Style No. 3, 1905 Golding Official No. 9 hand press, Challenge proof press and an automatic card press. Returning the equipment to its turn-of-the-century vocation of personal and business stationary, we work with Sterling’s original lead type and images, as well as photo-polymer plates, to create note cards, wedding invitations, announcements, holiday cards, personal or business stationary, and other custom items.

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About Lucky Duck Press

I am a letterpress printer and paper enthusiast.
This entry was posted in History, Letterpress, Lucky Duck Press Info and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The History of Lucky Duck Press

  1. Pingback: Headin’ Back Home |

  2. In a fit of nostalgia I Googled “1889 Golding” (my first real press) and here you are! My father bought the complete shop for me for $50 from a student leaving for college. This was in North Dakota, the summer of 1949, I was 11 and recuperating from a broken leg. The next year we bought another shop (a second paper cutter, 3 Chandler & Price presses…and the company itself, one of two that printed specialty items for US post offices. Sold it in 1958 when I went away to grad school in Mass. Then moved to CT in 1963, and now live in Haddam. Perhaps I could come to Winsted some time and take advantage of your offer of a guided tour…1889 Golding and all t he smells of a working print shop! Thanks for being here! – Bob Herrmann-Keeling (bobhk@aol.com)

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