The North Press is the letterpress studio of Ellie Mathews and Carl Youngmann. Their proofing press holds down a corner of a small outbuilding surrounded by towering evergreens at the end of a gravel lane in Port Townsend, Washington. That half-ton of hardware was previously owned by Rusty North, a woman of expansive heart and affection. Hence our press name.
Early in their marriage, Ellie saw a classified ad, turned to Carl and said, “What if we bought an antique press?” Having been an after-school printer's devil, he already knew how to read upside down and backward. She had been captivated by type and letterform, first as a cartographer and later as a designer. Together, they were producing maps and atlases — always with an interest in the technical side of laying ink on paper. Later, they developed graphic software. She directed the look and feel; he positioned himself under the hood with the digital nuts and bolts. The C&P Old Style press they bought on impulse that afternoon occupied a corner in their Seattle basement before following them through five moves. It cranked out countless cards and invitations but has since been replaced by a Vandercook and a Pilot. Carl and Ellie use these to print poetry broadsides and whatever else strikes their fancy.
Carl Youngmann's interest in printing began in high school when he worked at Arvada Printing & Western Typesetting in Colorado, a production job shop where people came for custom forms, envelopes, and stationery. Carl remembers with fondness and respect the peculiarities of operating a Linotype machine. Since then, he has restored and maintained half a dozen presses and is fearless when it comes to taking them apart.
Carl holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Kansas. He taught cartography and geographic information systems at the university level and later developed mapping and medical image analysis software. He ended his professional career as a consultant to medical device manufacturers who were applying for FDA approval.
Ellie Mathews takes pleasure in keeping a couple hundred fonts of metal type organized. She holds a degree in geography from the University of Washington with emphasis on cartography and graphic arts. She worked in design and software development. She is the author of four books: two nonfiction, a middle grades novel and a memoir. She has won cooking and writing awards including the Milkweed Prize for Children's Literature, a grant from the Seattle Artists Program for Literary Artists, a Fishtrap Fellowship, and the Pillsbury Bake-Off grand prize. Look for her winning recipe on this site's Shop page. It's called Pretty Good Chicken Dinner.