New limited edition printed cards of several Northfield historic buildings will be available through a unique partnership between the Northfield Historical Society and

Keeney and plate


ArtOrg, a local arts organization. Three landmark buildings, the Scriver Building, First National Bank and the Armory building are included in the archival quality cards. Following the discovery of several original etched zinc blocks the oldest of which is from about 1876, a local printer, Keeney Swearer, cleaned the blocks, designed the cards and printed the set using traditional letterpress techniques here in Northfield. Cards come with information on the buildings and the Letterpress process. A limited edition of twenty five sets along with a small number of individual cards will be released at the Northfield Historical Society at Winter Walk on December 12, 2013.

The three blocks were discovered in a local family’s estate. It is unknown where the blocks were acquired but, it has been discovered that the Scriver building block appears in the Rice County Journal the day after the 1876 bank raid. The First National Bank of Northfield image appears in publication articles released by the bank in the early 1910’s. The Armory image appears in the Northfield News in 1916. It appears to be an architect’s drawing for publication while the armory was being built.

In order for the blocks to be printed they first needed to be cleaned. Using a razor blade, each line of the blocks was cleaned of dirt and oxidation. Then prints were pulled to

evaluate where the blocks needed more cleaning. Once they were cleaned as well as possible the rest of the text surrounding the image was designed. Taking the blocks to Artorg’s print shop, lead letters were handset to provide the text. Then the text and the image were set into the press. After hand aligning the paper and setting the pressure the first edition was run. For each card design the entire setup is pulled apart and reset. After the cards are run through the press they are stacked interleaved with paper to dry.

Keeney Swearer is an emerging artist and designer from Northfield who recently

Keeny prninting

graduated from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo MI. He first learned Letterpress at Artorg’s print shop in 2006. Keeney works on many different projects involving different materials. He has sold hand blown glass at the Northfield Historical society and Northfield Arts Guild, as well as showing at the Artorg Gallery. He shown work in New York City and Kalamazoo MI.   The cards can be purchased at the Northfield Historical Society Museum store, individual cards are $5.95 a piece, and the pack of all three cards is $16.95.  There is a limited supply of the cards.