Classic Boat Art, It’s All In How You Look At It.


Cool Chris – Craft.

Fellow Woody Boater Bob Kays came upon these very cool old block printing plates from old articles and advertising. Its fun to see printing parts as art. Such is the art of time I suppose. We could go deep into the Arts and Crafts movement and William Morris, about the transference of what was and how new technology turns that old stuff into art. but we will spare you the history lecture. It does relate to why are beloved boats are part art, part boat though. Throw in a little Elbart Hubbard and his art movement, you could be philosophic for weeks on the subject. You wouldn’t have any friends left. But it would all make sense as to why we are featuring today’s printing blocks as cool art. Or you could just look at the blocks and say.”cool” OK, I need to go back to the planet earth now and work. Happy Day universe!

barnes logo

This cool block is reverse and a negative of the printed art. Ink would be applied and pressed into paper. Creating the image blow, printed on green paper.


The printed engraved art. Truly an art form making such things

Many of these plates are just part of something larger. The printer would have to place each part together. The process was massivly time consuming and expensive. Wow, have we come a long way.

gar wood 1937

A Gar Wood ad for barns Bros on Lake Hopatcong.

Gar Wood logo

The plate for the Gar Wood logo used.

Some of these plates look very simple, but when printed come to life. Cool!

used in gar wood ad

The boat for a Gar Wood Ad

gar wood

Neat ad How it printed


Nothing beats old typography. All hand done and rich in humanity.


This is an engraving plate of a photograph. This is how some post cards were made, and imagine 4 plates that all had to align to create a 4 color image. That’s why many are off set a bit. Its actually a miracle you could even tell what the image was.

You may all now put down your pencils and go back to work, or something else less demanding of your brain cells.

11 replies
  1. Chris B.
    Chris B. says:

    AS I am so much younger than Matt I need clarification. this is a metal block (brass)? that someone hand carved out with a dull chisel to make the print?

  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    There is no easy answer of course. Much earlier they were hand engraved, and then done with more modern ways, and all sorts of ways. The photo one is clearly a process thing. With a half tone screen layed over it. I never made them. I did do rublyth and overlays. But its kinda like a rubber stamp concept. I do know there was also type setting done this way.

  3. Alan Arrighi
    Alan Arrighi says:

    Matt, When I started in the printing business we had one little Mac that we used for lettering. everything else was either hand cut Rubylith or shot in a large format camera. I still remember separating four color process artwork using color filters in the camera room, shooting film, sending it through a diffusion transfer press onto acetate. That was tedious and you never really knew what you were going to get until you printed a sample.

    We currently reproduce vintage Correct Craft Tee shirt designs and all of those were originally separated by hand. My designer using the computer was having a hard time reproducing the vintage look which usually included hand stippling with ink pens for water effects and store bought half tone sheets for blends. I showed him how we used to do it with tracing paper and Ruby and he was amazed we ever got anything done! That’s when we used to enjoy what we created, now we just pump the work out like robots and move to the next order.

    • Chad
      Chad says:

      Very cool plates! My grandfather was a printer by trade. He ran his business from the garage on an old Heidelberg platen press. I remember playing with the trays of letters as a runt.

  4. Ed S.
    Ed S. says:

    OK, I gotta ask; Bob, where on earth did you find those old plates? Something Wayne left in the up in the attic?
    Second question, Did Barnes Bros. ever produce anything with a torpedo stern as on the first block?

  5. Dennis Couch
    Dennis Couch says:

    I have several old presses set up to use those old plates! Would love to print some coasters and such with those! Would make great “woody boater” items!

  6. Marvin Fultz
    Marvin Fultz says:

    I have a Chris Craft brass stamp like the first one pictured & was wondering what the value would be ?. Any information would be helpful. Thanks !

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