Letterpress Printing (1 Viewer)

The price of letterpress equipment has gone up tremendously in the past five or six years, partly because of articles like this. It's a fad for a lot of people, and the tabletop presses - that experienced printers consider toys - are going for up to $2000 these days. You used to be able to get them for $100. Not to mention foundry type and everyday letterpress tools and supplies. It's crazy.

Especially when you consider that this was a trade, not an art. It's like kids in the year 2050 collecting grease guns and lug nut wrenches because cars don't use them anymore, and they are cool and retro tools of artistic expression.

What goes around comes around, I suppose.
It sounds as though you have some objections to its rise in popularity. That's understandable. Call me Pollyanna, but I'd rather see a lot of pikers embrace letterpress printing and have it live on than have it fade away into nothingness. That's ALWAYS the lesser of the two evils in my book.
Nah, I don't mind if it becomes more popular. It's just bad news for some of us because it makes everything more expensive.

Kind of like wealthy young hipsters moving into your neighborhood and paving over everything that made it a desirable joint in the first place (which is happening in San Pedro), or the price of Bukowski books and manuscripts rising as his popularity becomes more widespread.

As far as letterpress - or manuscripts - go, a surge in interest is great news if you're on the selling end. Something tells me though, that in 10 years a lot of the people who are into it as a fad will liquidate what they are buying up now, so it all evens out.

And that probably applies to letterpress and Bukowski too. ;)

Collectors of junk, all of us! Lead type fonts, salt and pepper shakers, rare books, spoons from every state...ha. Yep.
Okay, I'll just wait ten years, finally retire, and buy up letterpress gear at bargain prices. Then I'll print me me me me and some of you.
Letterpress printing is really a labor of love. I stress labor because setting the type is an amazingly time consuming and technical thing.

Imagine making a pile of sticks, and each row in the pile has to be exactly the same width or the whole pile will fall. Now make those sticks tiny little pieces of lead and you've got some idea of setting a page of type.

It's a very Zen thing to do, and you have to really, really love it to do it. Every other method of setting a page of type is infinitely easier than setting lead foundry type by hand.

But there's something about getting ink in your blood...it never leaves. Sorry Bill. ;)
mjp is right. It gets in your blood...

This article will cause people to buy cool looking presses for their Manhattan apartments. Just to look cool. They will not want to spend the maybe $20,000 that it would cost to get a full shop. They will not want the mess. Have a look here. This is when it is CLEAN.


If it gets people involved because they want t, then it will be a good thing. If it just pulls machines out of service to look cool in an apartment then it wont be so good.

Also, people think that they can make money at letterpress. Yes, it can be done, but you will not get rich opening a letterpress shop and hiring employees. This is not a business opportunity. You have to want to print and want to print, even if it is going to lose you money....

All best,
I get depressed looking at my C@P, it's barely been touched since I bought it 3 years ago... I don't even have a fancy NYC apartment, it just 'rests' in my basement (2 people to carry it). Unfortunately it's turned into a $1000 coat rack... I have a LOT of RESPECT for Bill or anyone else printing broadsides, it's much more work than I expected (I like things to be 'easy'...). As my patience grows, I hope to use it, but MJP is DAMN right, setting those tiny lead fonts is TOUGH, but I'm sure it gets a LOT easier with time.
Alright, I'm getting BUMMED out, time to move onto next SUBJECT/THREAD...
What are you waiting for? You can hang your coats somewhere else. Don't you guys in Canada wear aminal skins and hang out in igloos, anyway?

OK. I'll lay off my brotha from anotha motha in Canada!

I get depressed looking at my C@P, it's barely been touched since I bought it 3 years ago... I don't even have a fancy NYC apartment, it just 'rests' in my basement (2 people to carry it).
Two people? I assume you bought a Pilot? Two people couldn't carry a big C&P, and it could probably be had for less than a grand. The Pilot (if that's what you have) is a really god little press. Probably the best of it's size.
I'll either get around to it or sell it (for a nice big loss I'm sure!)

oh thanks...
rub it in!
I took the coats off it... it's a START!
I should have spent a bit more time contemplating the decision and where I was mentally at the time of the purchase. It's a great press (I assume!?), Don Black http://www.donblack.ca/ fixed it up nice for me, plus it makes a jacket look stunning!!!
theeffects: have you used the press at all? Like a test run of something? While it's nothing like a real letterpress, I have a small handcranked toy printing press that uses rubber type. You set the type in metal holders and fix them in a drum, then turn the crank and feed in paper. I've printed two chapbooks with it, both old poems from the 1960s. It's a lot of work but surely much simpler than a C&P.
i printed ONE thing, it never dried (wrong ink I found out later) and the 'press' kept falling apart, I was frustrated and covered in INK. The press is not going anywhere, hopefully I'm in the same boat... I'll use it one day, or else I'll sell it for a BIG loss. Very impulsive on my part, it's a time consuming art, maybe I don't have what it takes.
I doubt you could sell a Pilot for a loss, even if you tried. ;) The small "tabletop" presses sell for more than large production presses these days.

Users who are viewing this thread