How to Use a Letterpress

Thomas Levine's picture

I have been given access to a letterpress shop. Interestingly, nobody else with access to the shop knows how to use it, and it hasn't been used in years.

I know something about letterpress printing from reading books about printing, but I still think it'd be a really, really good idea to read in more detail about how to use the machines. I'm looking for recommendations of books about how to use a letterpress.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Tom, I wonder if there isn't a workshop or a local letterpress that wouldn't mind you hanging out to watch. I think you'd learn more from experience rather than books. ;^)

( Moving this thread to General Discussions. )

hrant's picture

If you get serious about it (like if your geographic area is affluent...) and start using photopolymer plates for printing, do get a copy of "Printing Digital Type" by our Gerald Lange.


will powers's picture

Check Paul Maravelas's book on letterpress:


It is available from Oak Knoll Press:

& Amazon seems to have a few available.

But read this book in conjunction with hands-on learning. Miss Tiffany is right.


bieler's picture


A good online resource for a general intro is

One of the better all around manuals is

General Printing: An Illustrated Guide to Letterpress Printing by Glen U. Cleeton, Charles W. Pitkin, and Raymond L. Cornwell


Thomas Levine's picture

I found three rather detailed manuals on letterpress printing, including Maravelas's and many of those listed at, in a library. I'll look for an active letterpress shop too.

Bleisetzer's picture

Why don't you book a letterpress course for EUR 120 a day
in Germany? You'ld be welcome ;-)

„Ich bin ein Preuße, kennt Ihr meine Farben...“

moonblob's picture

I recently bought myself some letterpress equipment, and have found the following books extremely helpful:

Printing as a Hobby, by J. Ben Liebermann
Printing for Pleasure, by John Ryder

I wish I had access to a letterpress shop :(

Chris Dean's picture


Ricardo Cordoba's picture

Thomas, I was just posting about New York City's Center for Book Arts in another thread. Scarsdale isn't that far away, after all. :-)

Cooper Union is also teaching letterpress printing, on a Vandercook press, between February and April.

Thomas Levine's picture

Perhaps I should have posted my discoveries instead of just vanishing like that. I managed to find someone to show me around just to the extent that I wasn't afraid of breaking anything, and then I figured out a lot from more books in the library.

The Center for Book Arts looks interesting; I'll try to go to take a class there at some point, but it is less convenient for me to get there now as I'm fortunately no longer in Scarsdale.

Here's the last thing I printed:

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

Sweet! Thanks for the update.

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