Making a good impression

Here at 1973 we love getting our hands dirty (or should I say inky) lovingly letterpressing our cards. We print using one of our 4 vintage Heidelberg 10” x 15” platens, which are considered the Rolls Royces of letterpress machines.

In the olden days metal or wooden type, or etchings would be assembled in a chase, which is the metal frame that holds it all together. Nowadays there’s a much quicker way of doing things, and that is to get polymer printing plates made for each colour that needs to be printed. We create our designs using Photoshop or Illustrator, separating the designs into the different colours we wish to print.

In the video the Happy Birthday card (a design we license from Egg Press, who are based in Portland, Oregon) has 3 colours. Harry, one of our printers, mixes the colours up from scratch and applies each colour, one plate at a time. The rollers on the machine coat the plate, then close into the paper making an impression of colour and leaving that lovely debossed indentation that is unique to letterpressing. It is very much an artisan process, and takes great skill and an eye for detail to master the process, which in turn creates a quality product worthy of the 1973 stamp.

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