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Letterpress printing… ever hear of it? While today’s generation probably has never heard a word about it, most others have. Letterpress printing was brought to life when it was invented in the mid-15th century by Johannes Gutenberg. This type of printing is a technique of relief printing using a printing press, a process by which many copies are produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against sheets or a continuous roll of paper. A worker composes and locks movable type into a bed of a press, inks it, and presses paper against it to transfer the ink from the type which creates an impression on the paper. Pretty cool, huh?
Fast forward to the 21st century and letterpress is still very much alive. So much so that on September 15, 2017, The .918 Club hosted the 5th annual Lancaster Printers Fair which showcased the letterpress printing. The event attracted over 500 attendees, 20 vendors from six different states along with food trucks lining the street. The giant tube roll competition featured Yazoo Mills’ huge 20” I.D. tubes that were used as “rollers” to transfer the ink from the letters to the paper, creating works of art.
A total of five colleges competed in the giant tube roll competition – Kutztown University, Millersville University, Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, West Chester University, and Harrisburg Area Community College. Millersville University took home the grand prize as they were declared the winner. Kids were also able to join in on the fun with smaller tubes to create prints with their names on them.
When asked why the event chose to showcase letterpress, Craig Welsh from GoWelsh said “The non-profit that organizes the fair is ‘The .918 Club.’ It’s dedicated to preserving letterpress printing. ‘.918’ is the measurement in inches of the height of moveable metal/wood type used in letterpress printing.”
Check out The .918 Club for more information on letterpress and their events.