Newness is no virtue and oldness is no vice. Truth and beauty and goodness are not determined by when they exist. Nothing is inferior for being old, and nothing is valuable for being modern. this has freed me from the tyranny of novelty and opened up for me the wisdom of the ages.
A Brief History
Letterpress originated in 15th Century Germany where Johannes Gutenberg used moveable type to print a copy of the Bible on the very first printing press.
A goldsmith by trade, Gutenberg forged individual letters of the alphabet out of a lead-based alloy, allowing lines of text to be hand-set and locked into place for printing.
Using simple mechanics, his machine propelled mass production of the written word, and changed communication forever. In a matter of sixty years, presses throughout Europe had printed over twenty million volumes.
FOUR HATS STUDIO PRESSES
Vandercook 320G - This press was manufactured in Chicago in 1914 and weighs a whopping 2000 pounds—a literal ton! Everything is done by hand on this press, each print produced from a hand-turn of its cast-iron handled. It's classified as a cylinder press, meaning the carriage (also called a cylinder) piece attached to the handle, rolls across the flat surface (or bed) of the press where the type, plate, or block is locked into place. The ink is spread across a surface beneath the press' feed board (where each sheet of paper is hand-fed) and distributed by two metal rollers and two rubber rollers, re-inking the print area upon each return trip to the feedboard. Learn more from its original manual here.
Chandler and Price - This press was manufactured in Cleveland in the late 1800s and comes in around 1500 pounds. It is a platen or clamshell press, meaning the impression of letterpress comes from the pinch of two pieces of metal as they open and close. My model is set to run on a motor, so this open/close motion happens at speed, allowing me to print higher volumes at a faster pace. The disk on top of the press provides ink for the rollers to grab from as they roll up and then down over the print area, which is locked in below.
WANT TO GET SOMETHING DOWN ON PAPER?
Custom letterpress projects are a labor of love—resulting in keepsake pieces on thick, luxurious papers. Letterpress a tactile art, one that invites you to run your fingers along the text, feeling the deep impression, imprinted beneath the surface of the paper. Want to get started on a project that sure to leave an impression of its own?