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Still room for Eureka print shop

Published: Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013 10:00 p.m. CDT
In this July 26, 2013 photo, various inks fill shelves at Eureka Printing & Stationary Co. in Eureka. After 100 years, and generations of technological advances, the presses at Eureka Printing & Stationary Co. still roll. Eureka Printing celebrates its centennial anniversary this year. (AP Photo/Journal Star, Nick Schnelle)

EUREKA (AP) — After 100 years, and generations of technological advances, the presses at Eureka Printing & Stationery Co. still roll.

Eureka Printing celebrates its centennial anniversary this year. It remains at its original location, 124 N. Main St., Eureka.

Paul Burton, the proprietor, is an Ohio native who found a penchant for printing while in high school and bought half of the company from Patrick Littlejohn in 1981.

"In 1981, I walked into the shop and mentioned to (Littlejohn) that I knew a little about printing and that I could operate the equipment," Burton said. "He looked at me and said he just so happened to be looking for a partner."

Burton, now 67, has been the sole owner/operator since he bought out his partner in 1996.

Littlejohn had purchased the company in the late 1970s from Clinton C. Potts, who had inherited it from his father, J.C. Potts.

According to information provided by the Eureka Public Library, J.C. Potts purchased the company in 1916 from D.G. Puterbaugh, who started the business about 1913, the same year his previous interest, the Eureka Democrat-Journal newspaper, became what today is the Woodford County Journal.

Clinton Potts, during his time as owner/operator of Eureka Printing, also served as mayor of Eureka, from 1953-57.

Burton still utilizes machinery and equipment from the earlier era.

"I've got a leather hammer that's probably original equipment," Burton said. "The paper cutter was made around the turn of the (20th) century."

Business changes

"The print business has changed a lot over the years, but it's still mechanical, math and physics," Burton said. "That you can read backwards and upside down goes with the territory."

Burton demonstrated his German-made Heidelberg windmill press and spoke of earlier times.

"There were some larger presses in here back when Libby's was here," Burton said. "I believe there were five or six printers in town, mostly making labels and stuff."

Historical records indicate Libby, McNeil and Libby purchased a vacant cannery near downtown Eureka in 1929 and operated from there for about three decades. "Libby's" relocated its plant to Morton in 1960.

Burton still has an original hand press from that bygone age. He used to have a large iron linotype machine.

"I took a sledge hammer to it," Burton said. "It was the only way to get it out the door."

Computer age

The mechanical presses at Eureka Printing these days are connected to desktop computers.

Burton's shop includes what he calls his greeters, his dogs, a Peek-a-poo named Swartzy and a Lab named Bernie.

Eureka Printing & Stationery includes Woodford County and the city of Eureka among other clients throughout the region.

"As the world stands today, there's still a place for the old-school print shop," Burton said.

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