As we enter into the second decade of the 21st century, we also begin a year long celebration of the 90th birthday of Graphic Chemical & Ink Company You all probably know the story by now - founded by my grandfather in 1920, fast forward to 1948 (is that nineteen forty eight or one thousand nine hundred forty eight?) when my father began working here, fast forward again to modern times and either 1968 or 1972 depending upon how one calculates when I began my tenure here. I suspect that in 10 or more years someone will be going on at great length about the 100th anniversary and choose to gloss over the years from 1968 or 1972 until whenever I get around to retiring, but for now you get the history of the company from my point of view.
As many of our baby boomers will recall, the sixties were a turbulent era highlighted by sex, drugs and rock and roll. Fortunately where I was during the sixties was still mired deep in the fifties. Graphic on the other hand was expanding into a complete line of litho products. For many years we had produced excellent inks for litho, but the availability of high quality stones was somewhat limited. During 1968, the first of many trips to the quarries in Solnhofen, Germany was completed and a strong working relationship with the quarry directors was begun. This relationship is as strong today as it was over forty years ago.
Screen Printing supplies were available prior to that watershed year, but the selection was pretty weak. My recollection of the storage shelf was that it contained 5 or 6 quarts of ink, one of which was a pretty pathetic pink that ultimately was given away. In late 1968, we began expanding that line, and that expansion continues today.
Photo Intaglio was effectively non-existent - we sold almost a full case of presensitized zinc in 1968 - that was less than 30 sheets. Today, with the advent of numerous types of plates and techniques we sell more in a week than we used to in a quarter. Instead of being limited to one type of zinc, we now offer positive and negative working zinc and copper, as well as positive working steel, Photopolymer plates including Solar plates, polyester Pronto Plates, and ImagOn HD film which can turn any plate (or surface) into a presensitized surface.
Papers have changes in so many ways over this period. In 1968 we probably offered 20-30 different types of paper. Today, the number is in the hundreds. Our most recent effort in the paper world is the addition of relief papers from the Far East - Japanese, Thai, Bhutanese, Napalese, Vietnamese and many more. We have attempted to fill the gap left when one of the top paper purveyors in the country - Aiko's - closed its doors a few years ago.
The list of innovations and changes goes on. We are very proud of the place we have carved out for ourselves in the printmaking world. The one thing that we can never be, however, is complacent. Every year we research, test and market new products to make your work easier or more productive. A good percentage of our new product ideas come from printmakers. We listen pretty carefully, and while we don't add every product suggested, quite a few do make the cut.