Atlanta business keeps antique printing methods alive

Atlanta native Brent Fraim never intended to own an antique printing press from 1910. But you know what they say: Necessity is the mother of all invention. And in this case, the emphasis is on the word "mother."

"I was using a local print shop … and about three days before I was going to give birth to my son, the owner said that he was going to close up shop and sell the equipment," Fraim said. "And I knew I couldn’t let that happen for my business. So, I slept on it for one full night and made him an offer the next day. And Buckhead Printery was born."

Fraim had already launched social stationery business Dear Elouise in 2015, specializing in everything from wedding invitations to baby announcements. With Buckhead Printery, Fraim now uses the vintage letterpress and engraving machines to print her own products as well as those of others in the industry.

"These are antique machines. They’re hard to find. They’re hard to find people that can run them. And because of that, they produce these beautiful works of art," Fraim said.

Fraim’s engraving press dates back to 1910, and the letterpress was built in 1970; the business owner says she’s also gained inspiration for her design and printing methods by exploring the archives of the J.P. Stevens Engraving Company, housed at the Atlanta History Center. 

Fraim says working with the antique machines can be a challenge, but when it comes to the final result, the painstaking work is worth it.

"When you get a special piece — a birth announcement, a wedding invitation — you can feel it. Something about the print method, the raised ink, the debossed ink, you know that this is special. You know that this is a point in someone’s life that they’re meant to celebrate."