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The Letterpress Printing Community

Letterpress printing is a dirty, messy, and time-consuming challenge that will frustrate you with its tediousness and weight. However, the reward is more wonderful than you could imagine. The Letterpress community offers an abundance of ways in which you can meet other makers, learn more about the process, and see what other folks are doing with their ink and paper.

Guilds, Clubs, and Community Teaching Facilities

The Amalgamated Printers Association was founded in 1958, by hobby and professional printers. It includes printers who practice letterpress printing as a hobby, a profession, or an art-making process. The membership is limited to 150 members who are required to print four pieces of work per year. These pieces are distributed to other members of the Association in monthly mailings. The organization maintains an archive of these printed pieces.

Each year, at least one member volunteers to host the annual meeting and conference, titled APA Wayzgoose. The events and activities showcase both the host city’s print-related gems, as well as the local members of the letterpress community.

In addition to the APA, which has members from around the world, there are regional guilds or clubs. They are often affiliated with a museum or historical site that includes a print shop as a working exhibit. Colonial Williamsburg, History San Jose, historical societies, and design schools or craft-related community centers can also be great resources.

Books We Like

Hatch Show Print: The History of a Great American Poster Shop, by Jim Sherraden, Elek Horvath and Paul Kingsbury

Hatch Show Print: Letterpress Print and Design Since 1879, by Jim Sherraden with Celene Aubry

American Wood Type: 1828-1900 - Notes on the Evolution of Decorated and Large Types, by Rob Roy Kelly

Letterpress: The Allure of the Handmade, by David Jury

General Printing: An Illustrated Guide to Letterpress Printing, by Glen U. Cleeton, Charles W. Pitkin and Raymond L. Cornwell

A Story With Character Ten Years of Tipoteca Italiana, by Sandro Berra and Fabio Zonta

The Art of Wood Type, by Gregory Ruffa

Hamilton Wood Type: A History in Headlines, by Bill Moran, Robert Style, Dennis Ichiyama, Richard Zauft, and Dave Carso

The Handy Book of Artistic Printing: Collection of Letterpress Examples with Specimens of Type, Ornament, Corner Fills, Borders, Twisters, Wrinklers, and other Freaks of Fancy, by Doug Clouse and Angela Voulangas

The Printmaking Bible: The Complete Guide to Materials and Techniques Hardcover, by Ann d'Arcy Hughes and Hebe Vernon-Morris

100 Wood Type Alphabets (Lettering, Calligraphy, Typography), by Rob Roy Kelly

American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century, by Mac McGrew

Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, & c.: The 1874 Masterpiece of Colorful Typography, by Esther K. Smith, Steven Heller, Wayne White

For the Love of Letterpress: A Printing Handbook for Instructors and Students Paperback, by Cathie Ruggie Saunders and Martha Chiplis

Elementary Platen Presswork, by Ralph W. Polk

Alphabets: A Miscellany of Letters, Introduction by David Sacks

Books, Boxes and Portfolios, by Frank Zeier

The Signs of Paris, by Louise Fili

The New Design Source Book, by Felice Hodges, Emma Dent Coad, Anne Stone, Penny Sparke, and Hugh Aldersey Williams

Magic Books & Paper Toys: Flip Books, E-Z Pop-ups & Other Paper Playthings to Amaze & Delight, by Esther K. Smith

Mexican Blackletter, by Cristina Paoli

Sign Painters, by Faythe Levine, Sam Macon

Margaret Kilgallen: That’s Where the Beauty is, by Heidi Zuckerman, Courtenay Finn, Jenelle Porter

Swoon by Swoon, by Jeffrey Deitch

Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything, by Aaron Draplin

House Industries: The Process is the Inspiration, by House Industries

Alexander Girard, by Todd Oldham, Kiera Coffee

Creative Quest, by Questlove

Life in the Back Shop, by Robert MacGregor Shaw

The Practice of Printing, by Ralph & Edwin Polk

Handbook for Pressmen, by Fred W. Hoch

Catalogue of Nineteenth Century Printing Presses, by Harold E. Sterne

Shadow Type or Scripts, by Louise Fili/Steven Heller

Fonts & Logos or Logotypes and Letterforms, by Doyald Young

The Golden Secrets of Lettering, by Martina Flor

In Progress, by Jessica Hische

House Industries Lettering Manual, by Ken Barber

Alphabets of Wood, by James Clough/Chiara Scattolin

The Art of Hand Lettering, by Helm Wotzkow

Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster, by Bex Lewis

How Posters Work, by Ellen Lupton

Graphics: A Century of Poster and Advertising Design, by Alain Weill

Maximum Plunder: The Poster Art of Mike King, by Paul Herring and Shawna Gore

Protest! Les Affiches Qui Ont Change Le Monde, by Michael Lellouche (from France)

100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design, by Steven Heller

The Art Deco Poster, by William W. Crouse and Alastair Duncan

Authors to Check Out:

Gail Anderson
David Jury
Steven Heller
Alston Purvis

For Children

  • Achoo! Bang! Crash! The Noisy Alphabet, by Ross MacDonald
  • The History of Printmaking, published by Scholastic Voyages of Discovery

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