Letterpress Overview

Pricing starts at $385.00 for small plates in low edition counts,
and increases relative to size and amounts- this price is not including paper stock.

When we say letterpress- we don't mean we primarily really work with movable type; we use photopolymer plates for our printing, and they can carry images OR type. Generally, letterpress has come to mean 'something printed on a letterpress', and we produce relief-printing style art editions on letterpresses all the time. They're not just for broadsides, they're for art editions, book pages, drawings, collagraph prints, mono prints, etc. etc.

What are photopolymer plates? What is Type?
When letterpress came into vogue some 500 years ago, printers had to work with movable metal type in order to spell out what they wanted their copy to read, and ultimately set it into lines of type which were inked up and printed onto paper. Metal type is made of lead and often takes a very long time to set; it also requires standardization. There is no design tweaking or customization of lead type, which is a drawback- but it does have a historic 'look', so we keep some cases of type around for the love of history.

But as printing needed to be turned around more quickly, and commercially the work required access to images and not just words, the industry also allowed for image plates to serve illustrative purposes and other more rapid typecasting machines were invented which had keyboard apparatuses; illustrations were still provided by woodcuts, metal engravings, and wood engravings. Newspapers were still printed with this process right into the late 70's. (See "Farewell, ETAOIN SHRDLU" for a fascinating look into this world)
The establishment of illustrated books and prints moved the responsibility of image-making towards a highly skilled caste of craftsmen who engraved images into relief plates for pay; they were usually interpreting illustrations in pen and ink done by an artist.
As the industry advanced through the ages, drawing became secondary to the photograph in the dissemination of images. Industrial photo-engraving processes came into vogue, and illustrators+Photographers worked with photoengravers to make camera-ready art move through a lens via the transmission of light to the surface of a photo-sensitive layer on a metal plate.
The plate would be turned into a relief block by etching away the non-image layers with acid, thus creating a 'photo-engraving' which could be inked up on a letterpress.
These metal plates often still survive today, as many were kept as keepsakes rather than being recycled, but the process is somewhat toxic and on an industrial scale was found to be wasteful. New methods involving photopolymers (plastic plates that are sensitive to light!) were invented at some point in the late 70's to the early 80's, were refined heavily and widely accepted through the 90's.
Now it is virtually the main way people print with letterpress; a photopolymer plate is more affordable, is recyclable, and takes less effort to produce- they develop with tapwater (not acid!) and are fast to process (takes about 90 minutes.)

We process our photopolymer plates in house and turn them around in a same-day format when necessary, giving use the flexibility to alter projects as needed to suit designated outcomes.

What kind of printing presses do you have?

We have four letterpress printing presses:

Vandercook Universal I, (15x22" sheet)

Vandercook Universal II (18x24 sheet)

A Chandler and Price (10x15 sheet).

A Heidelberg T-Platen (Windmill) (10x15 sheet)

This equipment allows us to slowly print up to 16"X20" image size on up to 18x24 sheets, and various smaller sizes of images on smaller equipment at faster speeds.

Art edition Letterpress Letterpress projects start at a minimum services charge of $385.00.

For this fee we will run an out of the can ink in a run of up to 50 pieces from an 8x10 or smaller image on your supplied paper. More sheets can be run out for minimal increases in cost; the fee is a setup fee.
Fee is subject to change, of course, with different plate sizes etc., as pricing climbs from there based on the number of pieces required and how much more paper is needed etc- send us a quote request including the pertinent details and we'll let you know exactly how much your project costs.

We primarily work from Photopolymer plates and we make them for you to your specifications here.

The artwork you provide for our platemaking services can be in drawing form on paper (we can scan, separate it into plates for you and prepare it for printing for a fee), or pre-separated digital form.

We make plates here, in house, from start to finish- and can rush an order (for additional fees) on the same day the artwork is provided.

We can also print with more classic techniques- from hand-cut or machine carved blocks. We love to merge old and new, and Haven Press employs a laser-engraver which can transfer your digital designs to tangible organic surfaces such as exotic wood veneers or other materials for letterpress printing (or other printmaking applications).

We can also tackle larger scope commercial projects as well as short run art editions, and provide small format printing up to 6x9" in longer runs from hundreds to thousands.

Commercial style printing Letterpress Pricing starts at $585.00.
This pricing includes up to 500 pieces of 4"x6" image on customer supplied stock. We will print on an automatic machine in the case of commercial printing.
If you want something the size of a business card (2x3") we can provide 1000 pieces for the same price.

We can supply stock and estimate it out for you, naturally, but would have to hear about your project before providing any kind of paper pricing, and you'll need to let us know what you want to designate. If you're unsure, ask for a placeholder recommendation and you can substitute your actual stock at a later date.