Like Engraving, Letterpress is a form of printing that started in the Middle Ages and was used with moveable type to create the first mass produced printed books. The Gutenberg Bible, known for its innovation and beauty was printed using the letterpress process. Letterpress is a relief method of printing (as opposed to intaglio) whereby the letters that are to be printed are raised from the bed of the press. An ink roller is used to transfer ink from a steel drum to the raised letters which are attached to a form or chase that rests on the bed of the press.
Mechanical arms transfer the paper from the feeder to the point of impression whereby a plate applies pressure to the paper in order to transfer the ink to the paper. The result is an inked image that is depressed down into the paper. This is always a useful way to tell the difference between Letterpress and engraving.
Letterpress forms are depressed into the paper while engraved forms are raised off of the paper.
When using special paper that is specifically designed for Letterpress the image holds a deep relief into the paper that you do not experience with other types of printing. The thickness and softness of the paper is part of the allure to Letterpress printing. Today, Letterpress is used for Invitations and Announcements as well as personal and corporate stationery. Many forms of communication are using Letterpress including business cards, letterheads, envelopes, personal calling cards, invitations, and even corporate stationery.
In the last decade there has been a renaissance of skilled craftsman who are operating their own presses and promoting the benefits of Letterpress. You will find Letterpress enthusiasts in many pockets of the world who are promoting their style of printing to marketing and stationery businesses in their area.