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What is a Letterpress?


Letterpress is the oldest form of printing. Letterpress printing is also the printing method that most often comes to mind for those who are unfamiliar with the printing industry. This is because it is the printing process that is the easiest to understand.

The Letterpress printing process involves either a single piece or multiple pieces of metal (or wood) made up of an image or letters of type. These pieces are placed on a printing plate. Next, the area that is meant to be printed is raised up on the plate. Ink is then applied by rollers onto the raised surfaces. Finally, the raised surfaces are pressed on paper, leaving the ink from the raised areas to create the desired print. The print quality through letterpress printing can be sharp and clear but can vary depending on the quality and texture of the paper. Typically only spot colors are used with this method.

This process is also referred to as relief printing and is pretty rare today. However, it can still be found in antique print shops and in school woodshops. Some use this process as an art form to produce limited edition books and prints.

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