Seller Story: Harry Link, Nashville, TN

“Harry Link was my great-great-grandfather, and he had a printing business called Quality Press Incorporated here in Nashville, Tennessee. It was originally right downtown on Devarick Street—between 4th and 5th Avenues, which is all big skyscrapers now. He moved the business around 1940 because they’d raised his rent. He built a building for the press in the backyard of his house, right along the property line, and it became a real family thing. I lived that house from the time I was four up until I was ten. So I remember them using these wooden blocks in the presses.

I actually went down and helped them when I was a kid. They’d pay me a nickel a week. Their bread and butter in the 1950s was labels: he made labels for different products, like for handles that would go on tools, axes, shovels.

Sometimes my grandfather and I would go and deliver the labels to meatpacking plants and places like that. There were a lot of those around town. He had a Packard automobile, and I’d get to ride with him. Every once in awhile we’d hear on the radio that there was a big fire somewhere, and we’d go to see the firefighters fighting it. Back in those days, there wasn’t much television. Things were different." – Sam Wallace, great-great grandson

Seller Story: Harry Link, Nashville, TN
Seller Story: Harry Link, Nashville, TN
Shop More From This Sale
Seller Story: Harry Link, Nashville, TN

How did you end up finding these blocks?

Harry’s daughter Regina helped run the press after he died, and she inherited the property—the house and the press and everything. She passed it on to my mother, who mentioned to me at one point that there were some old blocks in the basement. I thought it would just be a few, but there are quite a number! We also found a few pieces of beautiful old stationery with high cotton content. It felt different; the way the ink was on there, it felt really beautiful. But somebody else got the presses so there was no way for us to re-create that. Something from a different era.

What besides letters and numbers was down there?

They also had images, logos for businesses they worked for. In addition to the meatpacking, they also made labels for things like King Leo Candy, which made candy canes. I believe they were hand cut. This is before they bought the Heidelberg presses, which were a big technological advancement—they sprayed ink onto tin-type blocks, instead of the way they’d done it before, rolling ink onto the old wooden kind.

Full-service selling solutions for home or business-minded consignors.

Learn More