Saturday, January 18, 2014

Buy my poster

     I love posters. They catch your attention. They freeze a moment — an event, a time, an era. They are art, or can be. They convey useful information. Posters are the predecessor of newspapers, which began as handbills stuck on walls, and — encouraging to those of us who linger in the inky professions — they not only remain, but thrive in the electronic age. 
Atlas Stationers, 227 W. Lake St., Chicago, a cool, family-owned store,
crammed with office supplies and neat stuff.
     When Eli's Cheesecake advertised on my blog in November and December, I decided to take the money Marc Schulman paid for the ads and roll it back into my blog, in the form of marketing. And the very first idea I came up with — perhaps damningly—was to make a poster. Something hand-typeset. There was a pleasing symmetry to that: the old supporting the new. I phoned a few letterpress shops in Chicago, but never heard back from them.
      Undaunted, I contacted the mothership of poster printing: Hatch Show Print, of Nashville, Tennessee, a busy and growing letterpress shop that has been turning out posters, for circuses and country music acts and, now, a blog, continuously since 1879. They have an unrivaled collection of wooden type, some characters six feet tall.  In November, I wrote this post about them, and commissioned Hatch to make my poster — after I endured the customary two-month waiting period, that is.
     I sketched out the poster, and Hatch's Laura B. produced the poster at right from my design, printed on heavy stock paper. Working with her was pleasant beyond words. I'm biased, of course, but I find the result very handsome. Only 100 were made, and I've signed and numbered them, 1 through 100. Most I'm either giving to friends and supporters of the blog, or putting up around town, in simpatico places of business around Chicago, in the windows of friendly stores. Not only is it lovely art, I tell the at first skeptical proprietors, but if they put one up, I will photograph the poster and post the picture on the blog, where they will enjoy a blaze of publicity, and people will consider them hip. I'm thinking through the ethical/legal aspects of also plastering the posters in public spaces—that'll be a separate entry. What's the point of a poster if you don't cook up some wheat paste and slap it up on a brick wall, somewhere? The question is where. And I suppose "if" too. One must act morally. 
     When I announced my intentions last November, several readers signed up to buy the poster sight unseen —I have a list of their names, and will contact them individually. But I'm also offering a few for sale to the public for the quite reasonable price of $15, plus $6 shipping and handling (aka, postage and a sturdy mailing tube). I'm planning to sell 40 and then stop. 
    If you would like one, send a $21 check to me, Neil Steinberg, at 2000 Center Ave., Northbrook, IL, 60062. If you're in a different country, send an international money order and add and extra $5 — $26 total — for the international postage. Make sure to include your name and address. While I would never suggest that the poster's scarcity will make it valuable someday, well, stranger things have happened. When I'm dead and the things are selling on eBay for a thousand dollars a pop, you'll wish you had bought one now. And if they're never worth more than $15, or two bucks, or a dime—my hunch—it'll be something you'll enjoy looking at for quite some time, and remind you which blog you should consult on a daily basis.


  1. Lovely poster! My advice if you go public wall: make it spots where it's visible from the El, or Metra, near stations where trains slow down or stop briefly. Give folks something to see, and they've already got their smartphones out, right? Go right to the site. . . You might ask whoever lives in the right-opposite the El apartment at Newport, the one with the green windows, to put one in their window. Red and Purple lines stop right there all the time.

  2. Great idea Bill. I'm going to go scouting the El this week.

  3. That was my first thought as well: train platforms, el stations, bus stops -- any place where people are congregating and waiting...and we all know how long those Metra waits have been recently.

  4. So are you charging sales tax to Illinois residents who order and pay for one or not? The text below does not say.

    1. After consulting with my accountant, we believe that selling 40 posters falls under the "isolated sales" exception. Given that, if we are later found liable, we could face of penalty of up to $20, based on the entire worth of the goods sold, we aren't worrying about it. Thanks for asking.

  5. That's probably right. Here is the provision from Chapter 86 of the Illinois Administrative Code, exciting reading on a Sunday morning:
    Section 130.110 Occasional Sales
    a) Since the Act does not impose a tax upon persons who are not engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property, persons who make isolated or occasional sales thereof do not incur tax liability.
    b) For example, if a retailer sells tangible personal property, such as machinery or other capital assets, which he has used in his business and no longer needs, and which he does not otherwise engage in selling, he does not incur Retailers' Occupation Tax liability when selling such tangible personal property even if the sales are at retail and even if he may be required to make a considerable number of such sales in order to dispose of such tangible personal property, because such sales are isolated or occasional and do not constitute a business of selling tangible personal property at retail.
    c) However, construction contractors and real estate developers are not considered to be isolated or occasional sellers of tangible personal property to the extent noted in Section 130.1940(c) and (d) of this Part.
    d) Where persons engage primarily in the business of selling tangible personal property other than for use or consumption (such as the business of selling tangible personal property primarily to purchasers for resale), the mere fact that their sales for use or consumption may comprise but a small fraction of their total sales does not make the retail sales isolated or occasional. The vendor is liable for tax measured by his gross receipts from such retail sales.
    e) Regarding sale/leaseback situations, typically customer A purchases equipment from retailer B, and then sells it to lessor C who leases the equipment back to customer A. Customer A has paid tax when purchasing the equipment in the first transaction under a taxable retail sale and the second transaction where customer A sells the equipment to lessor C is a nontaxable occasional sale so long as A is not otherwise in the business of selling like-kind property.
    (Source: Amended at 24 Ill. Reg. 15104, effective October 2, 2000)

    1. That sounds right. I'm not in the business of selling tangible personal property.

  6. Glad I didn't see the Kick the Clown photo late at night or I'd have nightmares.

    Glad to see you made some comments about Trump's speech. Would love to see a few words on what you think of Blago not having his sentence commuted.

  7. Cool poster. Needs a black frame. Definitely black.


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