Advertising without posters is like fishing without worms.
--The Hatch Brothers
Hatch Show Print of Nashville
, is one of the United States
' oldest continually operating letterpress
printers, often associated with country music
C. R. and H. H. Hatch started the business in 1879, printing handbills and
posters for vaudeville, minstrel and gospel shows. (Nashville in the 1880s had 16 vadueville theatres,
and was a headquarters for both black and white vaudeville booking circuits). They later branched into
advertising materials for the Negro Baseball
League and the Grand Ole Opry.
Hatch Show Print posters come in all sizes, but many are typically 14 by 22 inch cards (used for window display). The shop still prints its posters with 15th century technology on 19th century printing presses, which use handset metal or wood type and hard-carved wood blocks as printing plates. You can recognize a Hatch poster by its wood block style of art: bold colors (usually only one, two, or three colors of ink; solid, heavy fonts, and thick lines in the artwork (Posters are carved out of one big block of wood) that reveal, on closer inspection, distress marks from of the wood presses, and slight imperfections in the typesetting that stand out in an age of digital perfection.
While artists like Hank Williams, Sr., Bill Monroe, and Johnny Cash would use Hatch posters for promotion on the road, today artists like Elvis Costello, Beck, or the Beastie Boys will commission Hatch Show Print to make CD covers or limited edition souvenirs when they play Nashville.
Hatch Show Print is currently owned by the Country Music Foundation. Their shop, at 316 Broadway in Nashville, is a great place to pick up a piece of Americana for your wall.