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The Death of Letterpress

September 11, 2012

“Print” Magazine’s August issue has a cover story about the end of letterpress.  I don’t think many people care about this except those in the graphic arts and print industries.  However, it is something that I think we should discuss.


Letterpress is a method of printing that uses movable type that makes an impression in the paper.  Gutenberg used this method when he printed his first Bible, Benjamin Franklin printed his Poor Richard’s Almanac this way and recently Martha Stewart suggested letterpress printed invitations.  Letterpress has been replaced by offset printing which is being replaced by digital printing, and perhaps all printing will become obsolete and replaced with electronic devices.

Why am I writing this?  Actually, it is not about printing.  It is about impressions, and I don’t mean printing impressions.  Interactions create impressions.  We seem to have much less tolerance or patience in our dealings and tend to jump to quick conclusions… and often times these are guided by impressions.  Many take care in how they look to create favorable first and lasting impressions to strengthen or foster their “brand.”  Companies spend huge sums of money advertising or promoting their brands.  Countless use a distinct look and/or color to convey and develop their brand.  This also includes the design for their letterhead and business cards carefully weighing the quality of the paper they print it on.  And then they send out most of their correspondence using email without the care given to how it looks, or mail documents in poor quality envelopes with partially inked postage meter impressions that may be placed crookedly on the envelope.  When something is printed, it is on low quality paper with no “feel” to it.  All this creates impressions – and probably not an impression that implies quality… or one you would want associated with your brand.

Part of a brand is the intangible feeling transmitted by it.  In that case, everything counts.  Design, printing, paper, texture and color are part of that “everything.” 

Letterpress printing always had a good feel – not fully appreciated until it was long replaced by technological advances.  Sometimes I miss it.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2012 2:52 pm

    From a friend: Well written – made a very nice impression.

  2. Ed Mendlowitz permalink
    June 23, 2015 7:36 pm

    See related blog posted on Jun 23, 2015 at


  1. Gutenberg’s Apprentice | The Partners' Network

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