The printing machines – Casterman
Restoration of the printing machines of the collection put together by Casterman
In 2000, Casterman Imprimerie SA and Casterman Édition SA bequeathed to the Wallonia Heritage Institute (on 1st January 2018 : “Wallonia Heritage Agency”, new designation) a collection of printing machines, small equipment and works that came from either the Établissements Casterman or the acquisitions of Mr Jean-Paul Casterman, who was a discerning collector. This collection constitutes a major testimony to the history of the book trades, in particular from the era of mechanized presses and the industrialisation that ensued with large circulation publishing. This collection is of considerable historical value: the paper archives retrace the professional and at times private history of the different Casterman generations. The collection of historical machines, tools and small equipment is among the most important in Belgium. One of the first in Europe, this important collection provides a complete illustration of technological development before 1945. There are scarcely any gaps. According to Mr Jean-Paul Casterman, they were acquired in Belgium and Europe from printers who were closing their business, and thus are of universal interest.
To showcase the most representative pieces of the collection, the Institute joined in on the urban renewal project pursued jointly by IBC Immobilier SA, the City of Tournai and Wallonia on the historical site of the Établissements Casterman. A small part of this collection is thus exhibited in the Henri Casterman Gallery in Tournai (Place Hergé, a block accessible by the Rue des Soeurs Noires or by the Rue des Augustins). The gallery tells the story of printing, the book trades and of Casterman.
Furthermore, the largest part of these machines will be moved in the building of the former Solvent belge, which was one of the last and most important textile industrial sites in Verviers. The old wool shops of this site, acquired specially by the Wallonia Heritage Institute and the City of Verviers to turn them into a visitable reserve collection, will host a significant industrial archaeology section. More specifically, the textile industrial machinery collections that belong to the Municipal Museums of the City of Verviers and a hall of steam engines from the end of the 19th century will be housed in these buildings. Other items will complete this collection subsequently.
Joint project for an industrial archaeology centre
Several phases of works will be needed to secure and then convert fully the old, non-listed factory into a visitable reserve collection. The City of Verviers and the Agency will provide funding to the tune of ca. $2,350,000.
The inventory of the machines was updated and published in 2017 with a view to moving to the industrial centre.
Before they can be exhibited, the old printing machines have to be restored (before they are moved). This is a delicate operation because it concerns elements of various sorts (metal, wood, leather, etc.).
A complete cleaning by specialists is indispensable to remove parasites, dust, grease, corrosion etc. from the 200 machines, which had resulted from the conditions under which they had been kept for years. The metal parts will then have to be treated to prevent corrosion from returning (oil and varnish), while the wooden parts have to be cleaned up and protected.
The Agency is seeking funds to finance these cleaning and treatment operations.
Estimated costs: i.e. $235,000for the 200 machines.
Contact: Wallonia Heritage Agency – Lilian Saraiva
+32 81 654 154
Rue Haute Crotte, 1 – 4800 Verviers – Belgium