Friday, May 7, 2021

J.L. Carr / Stencil duplicators

J.L. Carr's A Month in the Country is a wonderful little book about pain and longing and summer and youth and the transformative power of work and great art, one that I think about a lot, but it's kind of a shame that none of the rest of his work is readily available, at least not through the library! I went digging a little deeper on Ye Olde Wikipedia and was delighted to discover that he had written and hand-mimeographed 82 copies of his book The Old Timers, a history of the people of Huron, South Dakota. I'm always a sucker for small-press histories of small towns (having grown up reading and rereading the history of my own), so it is pretty great to see this intersection of interests.

Let's rewind for a second: He hand-drew every image in the whole thing, ran the crank on the stencil duplicator, and handed them out as gifts to friends.

A perfect quote that encapsulates my feelings about stencil duplicators - I love them, but...

"About the drawings - with the exception of one or two early ones, there is no second-hand material, all were drawn on the cuff or on the hoof, and, later, put on the stencil by a ball-point pen which is a little better, but only a little better, than drawing with a club."