What is Letterpress Printing and why you should consider it for your wedding invitations?

Letterpress printing seems to have become the go-to printing technique for wedding invitations, greeting cards, and business cards and for anyone looking to leave a lasting impression. Today’s thriving industry of letterpress printers is built on the shoulders of a printing industry that dates back to the late 1800s. It’s easy to overlook that what we now value as an artisan product made by a skilled craftsperson was once simply known as printing. 

What began with hand-set wood and metal type has evolved into an industry centered on the photopolymer plate. Today, letterpress design begins on a computer, and as a result, new fonts, embellished adornments, graphics, patterns, and complex multi-color designs can be created with minimal effort. Printing is still done by hand, one at a time.

So what exactly is Letterpress Printing?

Simply put, letterpress printing is a type of relief printing in which the text or image is printed on a raised surface similar to that of a rubber stamp. To transfer the text/image, ink is applied to the raised surface and then the paper is pressed directly against it. Contrary to popular belief, printing from movable type was invented in China in 1041, and then in Europe four centuries later.

Even though precise details of the invention of letterpress printing are unknown, most scholars attribute it to Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany, around 1440. His invention of an adjustable type mold enabled many pieces of type to be cast at once, allowing books to be printed at a previously unheard-of rate. Letterpress printing remained the primary method of printing until the nineteenth century, despite the fact that these later industrialized presses were vastly different machines from Gutenberg’s time.

Many people today appreciate letterpress printing because it leaves a tactile and visual impression in the paper – some call it “debossed.” While this practice is distinctive to modern letterpress printing, it conveys artistry and handcrafted quality that no other printing method can match.

All Papira letterpress orders are individually hand-printed on a  Heidelberg Windmill antique press. Each stationery order makes use of its letterpress photopolymer plate produced from a digital file.

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