Paper For Letterpress

I am about to purchase a Windmill press, but I am looking to find other paper and cover stocks beside Crane’s Lettra paper that can produce the same quality or even better impressions. Please guide me with some resources.
Thank you

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Hi Arthur,
Welcome to letterpess. You will realize soon enough that there is a ton to learn. But for now, we can take the guesswork out of the paper.

Other papers to get aquainted with are Somerset, Arturo, Arches, Rives, I’m sure im forgetting a couple more.

At one point in my career, when letterpess was making its comeback to popularity, and along with it, the deep impression, I ran stock after stock after stock to see which papers fit the bill. It was an education that was good for me, even though I had years of experience under my belt. You might want to go through this exercise also. You will learn a lot about paper in regards to the letterpress process.
Bill Cook

As an 80yr old ex-letterpress printer, with some 52 years hands-on experience from being a “printer’s devil” at age 14 to retiring from the post of Works Manager, I can tell you there is an awful lot to learn. As regards Heidelberg windmills they were our workhorse, I have printed every kind of stock you can think of from 18gram airmail paper to 800 gram board, paper laminated metal tags, plastic, acetate etc. Obviously it needs craft experience, knowing how much driers etc to add to the ink to obtain good drying qualities, how fast you can comfortably run the press, without the rollers skidding etc. and all this can only be learnt by hands-on experience. Books and manuals may guide you in the right direction but only practise will bring the satisfaction of a job well done. There is nothing a Heidelberg cannot handle providing the operator is skilled.

Mr Bennett,
I have to say that I wish there were more 80 yr old letterpress printers that knew how to use, or saw the value in using the computer. Your expertise is welcome (and I wouldn’t mind some stories !)

Hi Bill @ Waldwick,
Thanks for the response.
Can’t think of many stories to tell,but one may interest you.
I was operating a fine art stop cylinder press, fully automatic, speed around 3000iph. I was at the delivery end of the machine, checking the sheets as they dropped onto the delivery pile, when one sheet got skewed, I reached over to aline it and the cuff of my overall sleeve got caught in the delivery mechanism, as it returned to accept another sheet and bring it forward. There was I with my hand moving away from and back to my body a distance of some 3 feet, backwards & forwards; I was too far away to reach the emergency stop button, and I had to shout over the noise of the pressroom for about ten minutes before one of my mates realised that I was in trouble, and came to stop the machine and release my cuff. Quite scary I can tell you. After that I became very safety conscious, and when I was manager I wouldn’t allow anyone to wear loose clothing when operating a printing machine.

You may also be interested to know that in my apprenticeship days one of the first jobs I printed was on a stop cylinder; I was so small I had to have a box to stand on to reach the feedboard; the machine was hand fed, (this was way back in the forties). The run was for 92000 production cards for war material etc, (too big to go on the Heidelberg windmills which we had at that time) printed both sides; believe me when I say I could feed that cylinder with my eyes closed by the time I finished the job.


Mr Bennett
Those are great stories. I am going to start a new post where we can all share our favorite letterpress stories and anecdotes together. I’m looking forward to reading some more stories of yours from the past under the new post.


I’ve had wonderful success with Mohawk papers. Mohawk Superfine is ideal for letterpress and comes in text and cover weights. Mohawk vellum works well too. The paper broker I use is Xpedex (Raleigh), but they are located nationwide.

Craig Malmrose