Searching for a letterpress

So the aim is to eventually turn Pink Teapot into a successful letterpress studio. I want to purchase a press and start using my creative talents to create gorgeously pressed wedding invitations. I have been in love with modern letterpress since I first ran my finger over that lovely impression on a card I found in Paperchase when I was living in London. There is something truly magical about a piece of thick fluffy cotton card pressed beautifully with a simple design. I was hoping to purchase my own press in time for my wedding and press my own invites. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but I did get them printed by the lovely Shona of <a href=””>Magpie Press </a> in Auckland NZ.

Designing for letterpress is my happy place and my dream is to turn that into a business. The first step is acquiring the press…

Printing presses have been around for centuries and as each new technology comes in to replace the old, you can imagine how scarce these early presses are 100odd years down the track. That is what I am looking for. A 100 year old piece of machinery. That works. Oh and in Australia. That is the hard part. Presses seem to be in abundance in America due to the increase of printing companies borne from the second industrial revolution. I don’t know how many times I have watched American Pickers and seen the boys discover some dusty old machine in some dusty old corner of some dusty old barn. Europe and the UK have a surprisingly large population of presses that were lucky enough not to be melted down into ammo during the war. But in Australia, being young and so far away from the rest of the world, presses were simply not brought over in large volumes.

I search eBay feverishly in the vain hope something will magically pop up. And they do from time to time. But I always seem to get outbid at the last second by someone who has a much larger maximum bid than I do. Working in the print industry I have already exhausted my contacts and am on Briar Press religiously hoping Melbourne, Australia, will appear in the classifieds section. As it gets harder and harder to find these vintage machines, it also gets more and more expensive. I remain optimistic though.

I have purchased a small desktop press – a 90 year old Adana that is small enough to ship from the UK. From all reports it is a great little machine (it is yet to arrive in my eager little hands – hopefully not too far away now) but it just isn’t going to get the deep impression that gives modern letterpress it’s charm.

I know, I know. Back in the day if you pressed into the card it was a big no-no. The press was only meant to kiss the paper and when applied with the perfect coverage of ink, it would leave no indent. That was the mark of a truly gifted printer. Fast forward a few centuries and the trend is to push into the paper. The deeper the better! I find the banter on Briar Press forums hilarious with young starlings fresh out of design college asking why their 100 year old press isn’t creating a deep impression and old school printers having to explain that they were never meant to.

But we all love the deep impression. I know the Adana won’t give me this. I am dreaming of the day when a Chandler & Price appears in my living room.