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Letterpress Can Make an Impression
What is letterpress?
Letterpress is a form of printing that was used beginning in the mid 15th century and remained pretty much unchanged until the advent of offset printing. It was pretty much “how it was done” before offset was invented. It works by pressing inked plates into the paper leaving the paper slightly debossed and inked.
In the mid 20th century offset printing was invented and many print shops abandoned their letterpresses for the newer, faster offset printer. However, offset printing lacked the characteristics that can be achieved by letterpress. The slight debossing makes lettering more crisp and defined which has a unique visual aesthetic. Artisans began purchasing the “old” letterpresses from printers and pretty much kept letterpress alive by using them in small shops to produce finer quality books, and high end invitations.
When is good to use letterpress?
In recent years there has been a revival of sorts for letterpress. Mostly used for smaller run events, like wedding invitations or for business cards, the visual effect of letterpress makes its product desirable to stand out from the crowd.
It is more expensive then offset or digital printing, but there are good reasons why. The process for creating a piece using letterpress is a very tedious hand process. Each piece of a run is done by hand. And each color that is applied is done after a thorough cleaning of the press is done to add the new color. For this reason it should be used for smaller run jobs and specialty pieces but when used it really has a special feel that can’t be duplicated in any other way.
Here is a video about letterpress that gives insight into the process and results.
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