L is for Letterpress
Welcome to our #OKalphabetseries where we visit paper and printing terms daily. Come back each day as we weave our way through the alphabet and share our 110 years of knowledge with you.
L is Letterpress
The first printing presses invented were letterpress machines. In the mid-fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg invented moveable type printing utilizing wood blocks. His process progressed from wood type to metal type in order to achieve print clarity. Other forms of printing like offset lithography moved ahead of letterpress in the 1950’s. It wasn’t until the 1980’s when polymer plates became available that letterpress began a resurgence. The photopolymer plate allowed letterpress printing to take less time and opened it to new design possibilities. Letterpress is a tactile printing technique where a plate makes a deep ink impression into paper with pressure. This is sometimes called “bite”. Decades and centuries ago, the “kiss” of ink to paper with just enough touch to get the ink onto paper was what every letterpress printer desired. If a printer made an impression, he or she was considered a poor craftsman. Today, our letterpress audience wants an impression into a sheet. Because of this, soft, 100 % cotton papers like Lettra, Savoy and others have been introduced to the letterpress market. They allow for deep impressions into the sheet. Please check out “The Beauty of Letterpress” site for more information on the letterpress process and a gallery of letterpress printing.