Letterpress is a traditional printing technique that has found a modern day niche in the personal stationery and wedding stationery sectors, including Invitations, Thank You Cards, Birth Announcements, Envelopes and many other varied stationery items. It is a technique that simply loves thick, soft, and very open weave types of paper and card - and there are many beautiful materials available that can show letterpress at its best.
Take a look at our new range of Letterpress Thank You Cards in our online shop.
Letterpress printing is now a craft process that has been newly discovered by young designers, too young to have seen it in it’s heyday but who are looking at ways to add character and distinguish their designs in the days when own creations can be printed on a home ink jet printer.
It has not however been newly discovered by us. We understand letterpress, have produced it for many years, and we would be delighted to produce it for you too.
We at Downey have craftsman trained in letterpress printing with decades of experience and we are in an ideal position to produce your requirements with confidence.
Call our team of experts on 020 7739 8696 to discuss your Letterpress printing requirements.
The History of Letterpress
Letterpress printing was invented in the mid 15th Century by Johannes Gutenberg and proved to be the main method of print for centuries to come.
In the early days of letterpress, individual letters made of wood were composed together to form words and pages of text, locked together in a Frame or Chase and placed into the printing press for processing. Lead type was soon to follow, again made into individual letters still having to be composed into words, sentences and pages one at a time. It is only much later that machinery was invented that could set type automatically and impose it into sentences and even into whole lines of text at a time as part of the typesetting process. This technique was very widely used in the Newspaper and Book Printing trades.
Letterpress is a relief process where the image area to print is on a higher level than the background. Ink is rolled over the image area, then paper or card is placed over the top and compressed in a printing press. The ink and indentation produced is transferred onto the sheet resulting in a printed image impressed into the material. The depth of this impression can be made greater or lesser depending on the thickness and softness of the material to be printed, and the pressure applied to it. When produced correctly, Letterpress is pleasing to the eye and offers the designer another great tool in their armoury to achieve the effect they are looking for.
This ‘Typesetting’ process is a generic name we still use for the modern day production of artwork using computers of all descriptions and no special equipment is required to do it. Now-a-days it is more the software that is the critical item when typesetting and of course there is no wood or lead to store.
It is still however, possible to incorporate this modern day technology into the letterpress process so we can all still enjoy that wonderful look and feel of traditional printing. To do this we make a printing block that can be a whole page of type produced in one. This block can be a made from copper, zinc or magnesium – these are what we predominantly use at Downey. Photopolymer blocks can be used in the same way but somehow, do not seem appropriate to us.
The printing machines themselves have not changed very much over the years and even the presses we use today are many years old. They may have lost some of their gleam and sparkle but they are still producing work every bit as fine as the day they were made.