history of letterpress

It is no exaggeration to say that the invention of the printing press changed the World.  It is regarded as a milestone and it played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.


The Chinese had invented an early form of printing known as “wood block” printing sometime around 200 A.D., where, the wood block is carefully prepared as a relief pattern.  The wood block was inked and brought into firm and even contact with the paper or cloth to achieve an acceptable print. This is where the term “Letterpress” comes from: The letters are literally “pressed” into the textile or paper.


This remained the primary form of printing until 1439 when Johannes Gutenberg introduced mechanical movable type printing to Europe and started the Printing Revolution. He invented the process for mass-producing movable type; the use of oil-based ink for printing books; adjustable molds; mechanical movable type; and the use of a wooden printing press.


It was later discovered that the same machine used for “pressing” letters and patterns into paper could be modified to “deboss” an image (the process of pushing the image on the paper away from you), “emboss” an image (the process of raising the image on the paper towards you), “die cutting” (where type is replaced by a knife shaped into a pattern), and much later, foiling, where through heat and pressure foil is transferred from a die in the shape of your desired image to the paper itself.  Ours is the same craft that these men created so long ago - very little has changed in our techniques over the millennia.


We, at Warren Letterpress, are standing on the shoulders of giants.







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Warren Letterpress:

We are makers of beauty.