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  • Melinda F
    Participant
    @melindaf
    5 years, 3 months ago

    Sorry for this weird question but I want to use the right terminology when explaining what I do.

    I carve my own art blocks (no type is used or is set). I print the blocks on my 8×12 C&P Oldstyle. Is this called printing? Is type set considered letterpress only? What you your opinions? Thank you so much for your input.


    Jessica C. White
    Participant
    @jessicacwhite
    5 years, 3 months ago

    I think of letterpress printing as a type of relief printmaking, which is printing from a raised surface, including carved blocks. IMHO, it’s a letterpress print when printed from a press specifically made for letterpress, but the finished print doesn’t necessarily have to include type. So, a block printed on a C&P is a letterpress print, but the same block printed on an etching press isn’t, but just a relief print (provided that it was printed from surface, not an intaglio). Anyone else want to chime in?


    Tiffany Smith
    Participant
    @tiffanysmith
    5 years, 3 months ago

    You’re printing your hand-carved blocks using a letterpress printing press? That counts as letterpress to me! 🙂


    Bill Hannegan
    Participant
    @billhannegan
    5 years, 3 months ago

    My wife and I agree that anything printed on a C&P is letterpress.


    Gary Johanson
    Participant
    @garyjohanson
    4 years, 10 months ago

    Thank you for not calling it as having been “letterpressed”.  Sets the hair on the back of my neck on edge whenever I hear a proper noun used as a verb.  But all that aside . . . back when Letterpress was part of a standard commercial shop, and still a part of the daily production routine, Letterpress was the term given to the press type itself.  When I was asked to set the text for the Clarklift Central business card shells, it was because we were going to use the Letterpress.  Now, once it was established that a print run was going to go out as a Letterpress order, it was a matter of which kind.  The standard vertical platen Chandler & Price (that we all know and love) was called a Job Press, or alternately, a “Platen Jobber” or a “Platen Press”.  The Vandercook was known as only one thing: the proof press.  Anything printed from the Platen Job Presses were considered Letterpress Printed, and that included typeset formes, die cuts, dot etched screen cuts, half tones, woodcuts, linoleum cuts, whatever the raised surface medium was, if it was printed on the Letterpress, it was considered Letterpress Printed.  At one time, the term used for raised surface printing was “Typography”, from the Greek word “Typos”, meaning “an exact copy of” or “Same As” in Koine.  The term survives in its original meaning among philatelists (stamp collectors): Scott’s Specialized Catalog lists it among the three major printing types: Planography, Intagliography, and Typography, both print and emboss.  But these days, “Typography” has morphed to the study of Lettertypes and Letter styles. 

    Language changes, and terms evolve, I know.  And I will say that at age 60, what I do with my own platen jobbers to print out “Modern Letterpress” products would have gotten me fired on the spot when I was 19!  The papers we run on these machines today would have never been even considered suitable 40 years ago, when the ideal was polished hard stock used for extreme detail, which Letterpress is so very capable of doing.  But that was then, and this is now, and terminology won’t break your press, thankfully.  Enjoy your 8×12 OS, and if you find yourself doing high number impression work, like several thousand impressions per run, you might consider picking up a New Series version.  The “NS” is a lower profile job press with steel shafts and bearings, whereas the OS is iron through and through.  The OS is still an excellent press, however.

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