At least once a month, a reader or vendor asks for a tour of our publishing facilities.
“We’d love to see your printing presses and meet your designers and editors.”
So it is fun to explain that Lost Art Press is just two guys with laptops who work from their homes. All our books are in a warehouse now (whew), but we still just build and write from our couches.
To satisfy requests for a tour, however, here is a brief video tour of my shop and office in Fort Mitchell, Ky. John Hoffman, my partner, has a similar setup in his home in Indiana.
While we certainly could afford offices and employees, we are committed to publishing books with almost no overhead so we can return more money to our authors. And so here is a look at where I work almost every day.
As Westley said in “The Princess Bride:” “Get used to disappointment.”
I have previously referred to the aptitude displayed by the early settlers for all kinds of bush work, such as felling trees and sawing timber, if located near a bush, and as there were several fine patches of bush in the valley at the time of its being first settled, no time was lost in turning the timber to account for house building, etc.
One middle-aged man, head of a large family, who had probably never seen a pit saw before he came to New Zealand, had with his sons’ assistance dug saw pits, and while his two eldest sons were sawing at one pit, as if they had been accustomed to the work for a number of years, the old man might have been seen at another pit, sawing away on the top of a huge log, with a younger son, aged about 14, in the pit, actually standing upon a stool to enable him to swing the long pit saw the necessary length of stroke.
I heard of one amateur pitman whose ignorance nearly resulted in a serious accident; the log while being sawn rests upon movable cross-pieces called transoms, and it is the duty of the man in the pit to give the signal to halt when it is necessary to shift the transom.
Upon the occasion referred to, the log being large, the top-sawyer could not tell exactly when to stop, but was momentarily expecting the signal to do so from his mate in the pit; at last he inquired if he had not reached the transom. “Yes!” replied his mate, “and nearly through it;” it may be guessed it did not take that man many seconds to descend from his perilous position, and thrust a spare transom beneath the log.
W. T. Pratt
Colonial Experiences; Or, Incidents and Reminiscences
of Thirty-four Years in New Zealand – 1877
Shortly after my arrival I met a gentleman by the name of Post, who had been to San Francisco in ’47 and was a confidential clerk of General Williams, who was keeping a wholesale dry-goods store. I told him I had something over eight thousand dollars which I should like to invest in dry-goods. He informed me that they were over-stocked in clothing, and that if I wished to lay out my money in that way, I could get goods at very low prices. I purchased of them to the amount of over eight thousand dollars, and took passage in a Spanish bark, the owner of which was named Luca, and arrived in San Francisco on the second day of January, 1848.
On my arrival Robert A Parker looked at my invoices and made me an offer of one hundred per cent on first cost, he also agreed to pay all duties and freight charges. I took up with his offer. This transaction was the starting point of the building of the Parker House, where now stands the Old City Hall. After my return from the Islands, Captain Leidsoff sent for me and made me a very liberal proposition. He wanted me to take a lease of the City Hotel. When I asked Parker what he thought about taking the hotel, he said he did not wish me to have anything more to do with it, and if I was willing to put in what money I had, he would find the balance, and we would build a large hotel, in partnership.
Parker had a piece of land and the balance of a fifty vara lot, which we leased from Southard and James Gleason. A short time afterwards we purchased the whole of the land. We then got Stephen Harris, a carpenter, to make out a bill of lumber, and to take charge of the building. In those days it was not such an easy thing to get lumber, although, prior to the interest in the mines, it was cheaper than it is now.
Lumber was got out by what they called pit sawing, and we had about ten pits at work getting lumber out for this house. We first commenced in February, 1848. Most of the lumber was got out on the Widow Reed’s place. She was a sister of Francisco Sanchez. Mrs. Reed’s second husband was a man known throughout the country as “Three fingered Jack, the desperado.”… (more…)
Behold thoſe Monarch-Oaks that riſe,
With lofty Branches to the Skies,
Have large proportion’d Roots that grow
With equal Longitude below:
Two Bards that now in faſhion reign,
Moſt aptly this Device explain:
If This to Clouds and Stars will venture,
That creeps as far to reach the Centre;
Or more to ſhow the Thing I mean,
Have you not o’er a Sawpit ſeen,
A ſkill’d Mechanick that has ſtood,
High on a Length of proſtrate Wood,
Who hir’d a ſubterraneous Friend,
To take his Iron by the End;
But which excell’d was never found
The Man above, or under Ground.
The Moral is ſo plain to hit, That had I been the God of Wit, Then in a Sawpit and wet Weather, Shou’d Y——g and Ph——ps drudge together.
The Universal Mercury (London) – February, 1725
The above poem, published anonymously by Jonathan Swift, was meant as an act of censure on the poetical character of Edward Young and Ambrose Philips.
Gathering Chips At The Saw Pit by John Burgess Junior (1813-1874)
Lest you think that the Indian square dug up by Suzanne Ellison this week (see it here) is an anomaly, check out this excellent illustration dug up by Jeff Burks. Yes, we now have dueling researchers (cue the harpsichord rendition of the soundtrack to “Deliverance”).
This gorgeous image is from the British Library and circa 1825. In addition to the square, which appears to be a hybrid form of a miter square and a Melencholia-type square, we also have a curious image of his saw.
The saw looks much like an Egyptian saw that is on its way to Japan to become a backless Kataba. Or perhaps it is Dutch-ish? If you zoom in you can see clearly that the saw is designed to cut on the pull stroke, like an Egyptian saw.