Letterpress has been making a comeback in recent years as enthusiasm for high quality, handmade, artisanal printing has emerged. What many people don’t know is, at one point, letterpress printing was the standard printing method.
The printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in Germany in the 15th century. Some regale his press, which utilized movable lead type, as one of the most important inventions in history as it allowed the mass printing of books and the spread of literacy to the masses. Gutenberg is well known for the stylized bibles he printed-- now known as the Gutenberg Bible. Less than 200 were printed and now less than 50 are on display throughout the world! This printing press was used for several hundred years until the 20th-century invention of offset printing which is cheaper, more efficient, and easier to maintain.
Many of the cast iron letterpresses were sent to the scrap heap but thankfully not all. Letterpresses were rediscovered in basements by a new generation who brought the machines back to life. No longer used for mass printing, letterpress has been revived as an artisanal printing method that is loved for the tactile nature of its printing impression.
The press used for Lou’s Letterpress was purchased from Hammerpress, another letterpress studio in Kansas City, Missouri. Its history goes back much further-- the press is over 100 years old! It was manufactured by the Chandler & Price company in Cleveland, Ohio during the early 1900's. It's made entirely of cast iron and weighs several hundred pounds-- imagine receiving that on your doorstep!
Letterpress printing elevates our paper products into heirloom pieces that can be treasured for years to come. Our cotton paper is environmentally friendly (tree-free and uses 'upcycled' cotton that is a byproduct of the textile industry), has a wonderful texture that perfectly complements the impression of letterpress, and is archival quality so cherished notes from loved ones can be returned to year after year. Our additional letterpress goods, from cocktail napkins to gift tags, are given an elegance unrivalled by traditional printing.
My love affair with letterpress began after attending a workshop and I hope that your first meeting with a product of letterpress sparks your love for this timeless method of printing.