The Marshfield Sun Printing Museum

Located at 1049 North Front Street, Coos Bay, Oregon

Hours 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Tuesdays through Saturdays, Memorial Day through Labor Day, or by arrangement

HTML by Joshua Kubli


The Marshfield Sun Printing Museum is the former site of the Marshfield Sun newspaper and printing plant. The business opened in 1891, moved to the building that currently houses the museum in 1911, and printed continuously until 1944. The chief editor and printer was Jesse Luse.

Pictured here is Luse himself, top, and his children William, bottom left, and Margaret, right. Jesse Luse died in 1944.

It is thanks to William and Margaret that the building was re-opened as a museum, and operates today. Pictured here is the plaque announcing the building's status on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Pictured here is the Washington Hand press that Luse used to print the newspaper. In its heyday, the Marshfield Sun was the official, meaning the highest-circulation, newspaper in Coos County, and Coos Bay was the largest shipping port on the West Coast of the United States. Even so, Luse printed his paper only once a week, four pages each, and about 800 copies. All of the original Sun newspapers can be viewed at the Coos Bay Library on microfilm, for those interested.

A deep indentation on the floor shows clearly where Jesse Luse's foot pressed down as he laboriously pulled the handle on the press, lowering the paper onto the inked type.

The Chandler & Price press was quite popular on the American frontier, for its easy portability. All of the machines in the museum are the originals that Jesse Luse used, and are in comparatively excellent condition considering their age.

Here is Luse's Chandler & Price press. Driven by foot pedal, it was ideal for printing many, small items like business cards and wedding invitations. Towards the end of Luse's career, many printers had cobbled together motorized versions of this machine; some job presses were designed and marketed with integrated motors; and in many printing offices, much of the typesetting work was replaced by the newer linotype machines.

This is one of the many drawers, in each of the 14 cases of lead and wooden type that Jesse Luse used to lay out his work. It required a great deal of skill to lay out the articles, letter by letter, upside-down and backwards.

Jesse Luse also received paper maché forms in the mail, which could be cast lead or copper type forms, which could be printed. These metal forms contained national news articles or advertisements. The pictures in the paper, on the other hand, were created by engravers using an acid-engraving process on zinc plates. Pictured here is a proof press, used to quickly test boiler plates, pictures, and the like, to decide their suitability for inclusion in print.

Here, you can see how the individual pages were layed out, spaced by wooden and lead items called "furniture" in printers' parlance, and tightened into the metal frame by the hand crank shown, turning small metal wedges called "keys". Once the type was tight and secure, the entire page of type could be lifted off the typesetting tabletop, the "stone", and carried to the press.

The museum has many other fascinating exhibits, including an extensive collection of photos from local history, located upstairs in the building. Another exhibit, composed of numerous calendars from the period of Luse's printing, focuses on the role of women and children in society at this period, and the calendar art, as shown, is quite beautiful.


These pictures, and this page can never give the experience of actually seeing the Marshfield Sun Printing Museum for yourself. Please come visit us!


Please contact the author at the_juggler_01@yahoo.com, or send mail to the Marshfield Sun Association at P.O. Box 783, Coos Bay, Oregon 97420, for more information.

Many thanks to Marshfield Sun Association president Nathan Douthit, treasurer Bernelle Meacham, and member and former Association president George Case, for information, ideas, and encouragement. Many thanks!


The content of this page and these photographs are copyright 2000, Joshua Kubli. For information on use, please contact me at the e-mail address above.


1 1