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Letterpress Update

By Paul Watson on .

I’ve been putting some hours into the Letterpress side of the Book of the Erinyes recently, and have made a fair bit of progress.

Yesterday evening I managed to print out the text for the first section (there’s only one page of text per section).

I’d spent an evening the previous week meticulously setting most of the type (shown inked up and sitting on the press, below), which just left me to finish it off this week and start printing.

type set

After a handful of adjustments for typos or overly-worn letters I was lucky enough to get a decent print on the first real attempt.

In some ways it’s strange — I could type and print the text for this page on my computer in less than five minutes, so why spend six hours slowly picking each individual letter, arranging them, inking it up, running test prints…?

The answer is in the finished result. If you’ve ever seen a piece of letterpress-printed type you’ll have noticed the way the metal letters slightly indent the paper and the shine of the oil-based ink (it sparkles just a bit when it catches the light).

The Book of the Erinyes is being printed on a heavy (220gm) cartridge paper, which is probably the thickest paper I can get away with putting through the press. The body text is 12pt Goudy Old Style, with larger sizes of the same font being used for headings.

The combination of letterpress printed type and a good quality paper makes the finished page really enjoyable to handle and hold. I was thinking of scanning a copy, but a scan just can’t catch the tactile qualities of the paper or the look of oil-based ink sitting on the surface of it.

first print off the press