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Tribute to the founder "My typographer" of Domenico Irace

“Figure e ritratto della mia terra”, Arti Grafiche Andrea De Luca, Amalfi 1957

I was really struck, during a very short visit to a friend of mine who is a lawyer, by one of those ceramic tiles that are typical of that area, which was fixed on the wall behind the large armchair of the law firm. I read a sentence written on it which I had not read yet while visiting the many shops scattered here and there: “It is easier to criticize than doing without the lawyer”. I thought upon this and I found it really true. How can we but not breach the code of punishments, even if only by touching it, since we live in a world where nearly always man is like a wolf against his fellow creature and makes recourse to an expert of law in order to be guaranteed in his undermined and violated rights?
The beautiful tile of our pettifogging lawyer comes to my mind when I think of printers.
It is also easy to criticize them, specially when we are forced to live side by side with them, to fix in the lead of types our thought that for years has wished to come to light. The eagerness of the writer for the ideal that tends to become real, clashes with the other ideal of the printer to earn a lot, taking advantage of whom lives by begging for bread and fame from the pen. As regards myself I felt I could not subscribe with my eyes closed, what a writer had said about having never been rich “thanks to Providence and printers”. If there has been a bit of contrast because of money, it has been dispelled with paternal understanding.
Therefore let it be not sound strange to anyone that among the personalities of my land, there is a place for my printer too. It is a debt I pay, after so many years working together with the same tenaciousness and goals. Only who has not had anything to do with printers cannot be attracted by them. He is a leading personality in the life of a writer, an inseparable companion, also sharing the hard labour of thought. He has something in common with whom writes and sweats over papers from morning to evening, torturing his mind and racking his brain.
A hard working man is my printer , who has been able with the firmness of old generations, to build, brick after brick, his well equipped workshop. He is at work among his machines since the early hours in the morning: beside his workers he watches, checks and directs, with that recognized experience that is the result of so many hours of labour.
I see him always there, while I am advancing between noisy rollers and gasping engines, in order to check the prototype and read again the sheets of paper dirty with oil or black with ink. His obliging smile, that respect mixed with veneration for the writer give to his face something that makes him look nice.
The development of his business is mainly due to these qualities of innate distinction. His really well equipped business , is the most complete one which honours this laborious Republican and sailors’ land of Amalfi, which in the flourishing times of its trade, sent its ships far away in order to take to other shores its precious papers being the most suitable ones even for coinage.
A kind of legitimate pride appears in his face when he recollects the poor beginning of his career, which only making sacrifices he was able to go through until he got a complete success. As a young printer, at first, in the same workshop, where today his beautiful business is situated, he managed to become its owner, after having searched for the financial means to purchase it, in the far away lands of America. This poor beginning of his career is hidden behind his short exclamations characterizing his speech and being more eloquent than any words.
A swarm of children hard working like him, have replaced his arms still full of fresh strength and will. He is still occupying his working position as any good leader who, after having led his army to triumph, assists it so that the victory is fruitful and lasting.
Enjoy, then, my dear printer, the success of your hard work! I watch you slowly walking with your arms resting on your back, while you are crossing the roads of your town with your smile that has not lost anything of your kindness.
You perhaps do not think that there is someone watching and following you, someone who you, as the first one to do it, said to encouraging words: that young writer, who is now a mature man, and who was beside you, during the sliding movement of rollers, and now still searches the infinite fields of knowledge, in order to immortalize the voice of his soul in the lead of types. In your working position fresher energies have followed, your children grown on the sunburnt tree of your life: but let me watch your old smile again, the smile which infused me youth in the apprenticeship of words and hope of not being sowing unfruitfully.

Domenico Irace
da “Figure e ritratto della mia terra”, Arti Grafiche Andrea De Luca, Amalfi 1957