The (Brief) History of Letterpress!


Here at 9th Letter Press, we adore the letterpress process. But, not a lot of people even know what it is!


So, what is letterpress? To put it simply, it’s a relief printing process that takes raised plates with words and designs and imprints them onto a page. Because of the pressure behind the press, the print is left with an imprint, making the design more dimensional and dynamic. In fact, back when letterpress first made an appearance, leaving an imprint on a page was considered “bad printing”—but we love it! And now it’s considered a craft, thanks to Martha Stewart in 1997!


Where did it all start? We owe it all to our buddy, Mr. Johann Gutenberg. With his invention of the printing press back in the 15th century, he paved the way for mass-printing and publication. Because of this, letterpress became the primary method of printing and distributing information. Gutenberg’s printing press design really hasn’t changed much over the past few centuries. It started to become largely out-of-date around the 1980s because of the rise of computers and new printing methods, but has since then had a rebirth among specialty craftsmen.


In the shop, we have two presses. The first is St. Peter. He is a Chandler & Price, made in 1894, making him a whopping 121 years old! He was our first press and he’s full of loyalty to us. Our second press is Aretha. She big, loud, and we love her oh so much. She’s a Kluge, circa 1930-1940.


St. Peter (above) and Aretha (below)

Letterpressing offers a unique and hand-crafted style and gives each of our cards an individual personality. Here are some of our favorite letterpress cards:



You can pick up any of these cards in our online store today!


-9th Letter Press