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  • Writer's pictureKaren Seiger

Vintage Printing Blocks, Bakelite Dice, and More

Just inside the 10th Avenue entrance to the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market on 39th St., you will meet Jerry, a vendor selling thousands of vintage printing blocks from the days when typesetters had to handset every single letter and punctuation mark in a publication.  You will see trays and trays of letters, both tiny and large.  He also has blocks with intricate embellishments, those tiny swirls, lines, stars, and infinite other shapes that enhance a publication visually.  These items make beautiful decorative pieces, and you can still use them to make your own prints.

Jerry has some other intriguing merchandise as well.  He has bins of old Bakelite dice, and boxes of beautiful old keys.  You can imagine the stories hidden in each of these tiny objects.  One of the most unusual items I’ve seen recently was a stack of prescriptions for medicinal liquor.  During Prohibition, doctors were allowed to give prescriptions for a certain amount of alcohol, presumably for patients with nervous conditions.  I can only imagine the financial boon provided to the medical community by this particular loophole.

Photographers, designers, and stylists often visit Jerry’s tent for objects and inspiration.  You can find him most Sundays at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market.  If you would like to get in touch with him directly, send me an email, and I’ll help you connect.


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