Relief printing or what is commonly known today as Letterpress printing was invented in the mid-15th century by Johannes Gutenberg. After years secretive development Gutenberg invented a method for reproducing individually carved wooden letters that could be combined to form a page for printing and then reassembled again to form an entirely new page for printing. Using a modified wine press available to him he then created the first printing press.
From those humble beginnings in Gutenberg’s workshop, letterpress printing has traveled far and wide. With the aid of this printing method books were even produced while at sea. In the mid-16th century a Dutch ship crossing the Baltic Sea printed a bible. There even exists today a small body of literature printed on so-called sea-presses. Pirate journals, Italian poetry, even log books of the French on their way to the Americas have been documented using letterpress.
Many years have past since the invention of letterpress but the time honored tradition of printing raised text and images has not. A fair group of printers’ still use moveable type made from metal or wood. Alternative means of production also includes linoleum blocks, magnesium plates, zinc plates, or the more modern photopolymer plates. Whatever means used the job is always completed one impression at a time.
Published by: Scott Fisk in Type