Limited Edition Letterpress Print
Printed by Renae Orr at The Cherrystone Design and Press | Elverson, PA
Letterpress printing is personal, authentic and unique, and because of that there is something very alive and real about a letterpress print. From the soft, yet substantial feel of the cotton paper, to the shadows outlining the impression, to the saturation of the ink, it is as real as printing gets. Modern offset and digital printing is like greeting someone by waving to them from across the room, letterpress is like running up to them and giving them the biggest and warmest hug you can muster.
In the beginning, there was calligraphy, then along came Johannes Gutenberg in the mid 15th century, and the printing press was born. For nearly 500 years, the printing press remained the main method for commercial printing. With work safety concerns and technological advances, offset printing took over in the 1950s, and now digital printing has become the norm for many commercially printed items. Sure, letterpress takes more time and skill to successfully execute, but it also yields a greater reward in terms of quality and distinction.
No new commercial letterpress machines are being built today. There will never be more than there are currently in the world, and with every press that is torn apart and sold for scrap, they become more and more rare. Sure, it’s possible that someday, someone may try to begin fabricating new presses, but chances are, that day will never come because of the very same reasons production stopped in the past. They require great skill and concentration to safely operate, they would be costly to produce and ship, and they are not as efficient as modern printing equipment.
In short, letterpress is an art, a craft, and most of all it is a specialized industry that produces a very distinct product unique from anything else out there. Those who operate press shops do so out of respect for the industry and the desire to preserve this trade and its truly exceptional products.