Nashville: Print Icons Live On

Johnny Cash poster, photo courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and MuseumHatch Show Print may seem like a relic of a bygone era, but the Nashville institution is still very much a part of the contemporary country music scene.

Launched in 1879, the traditional letter press print shop got its start with a handbill for a lecture by the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, the brother of Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Starting in the early 20th century, then-owner Will T. Hatch began to make a name for himself as the top Southern printer for all manner of entertainment posters.

The shop would go on to produce iconic posters for Hank Williams, Bill Monroe and Johnny Cash and other future country music legends, and continued to do so for contemporary performers such as Garth Brooks and Wynnona .

By the late ’70s, however, the traditional Hatch look went out of style, putting the business in jeopardy. Gaylord Entertainment acquired Hatch, which is now owned and operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Today, the handmade look that was considered passe in the ’80s has become hip, and Hatch is flourishing once again. Among Hatch’s recent high-profile commissions is a just-released U.S. stamp to mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

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Images courtesy of Hatch Show Print

The time-staking process is much the same as when Hatch opened its doors in the late 19th century: Workers ink hand-carved wooden blocks and metal photo plates, pressing them to paper to form an image. Posters with more than one color require separate wooden blocks or type for each color and generally go through the press once for each different color.

Later this year, Hatch will move for the eighth time in its 133-year-long history to what it hopes will be a permanent home within the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

According to Hatch manager, Jim Sherraden, it will remain “a working print shop, complete with splattered ink.”