Letterpress is a lot like it sounds. It is a term for printing text with movable type, which the raises surface is inked and then pressed against a smooth surface to obtain an image in reverse. The term may also refer to a direct impression of inked media, such as zinc plate or linoleum blocks onto a surface.
So, how did it all start? Around 750 AD, Chinese woodblock printing utilized carved images or characters as a way to print on textiles. By the 1400s from cloth to paper was a common practice throughout Europe; Johannes Gutenberg is is often credited with inventing movable type using reusable letters, an invention that forever changed printing. While many of the technical logistics of letterpress have changed—from using screws to a fully-automated machine where paper was fed and removed by vacuum grips, the principle is still the same.
While computers have changed typesetting with digital imaging replacing metal casting, photopolymer plates and ultra-violet curing inks are often used to produce self-adhesive labels, such as specialty stamps and address stickers. Rubber plates are used to print on curved or shaped surfaces, such as round party invitations.
Letterpress merges vintage appeal with modern technology—from the whoosing sounds of the machine to the indented graphics and shapes on paper, the outcome is superbly subtle and classic. Letterpress invitations add a distinctive, beautiful charm to weddings, birthdays, and corporate events—they’re not just another Hallmark card inspired design that anyone can manufacture.