Problems printing certain fonts with photopolymer

Hi all,

I’m not sure if it’s just a coincidence, but I seem to be having consistent problems when it comes to printing one particular font (Mrs Eaves Small Caps at 11pt, with tracking of 10pt) with photopolymer plates (KF152 on Boxcar base).

I tried a plate with a section of body text set in this font yesterday, with bad results - not crisp, slurring on certain characters (mainly at the ends of a line). Then this morning, with the exact same packing, ink etc, I tried another plate set in a different font (san serif), and got great results. I then tried another plate with a different font again (also sans serif) and also great results.

I then tried a fourth plate, also set in Mrs Eaves Small Caps 11pt and the same problem as what happened yesterday - smudging/slurring on particular letters and overall not crisp.

So it seems I am having problems printing plates with that particular font… but no idea why? Do certain fonts print better with photopolymer than others? If there is slurring/smudging on characters at the ends of a line of text, what does this usually mean?

Thanks in advance for the assistance!

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My thought is that it would be nothing to do with the font and Maybe the composition of your designs is different - your “problem” text might be the first thing your rollers hit - however on your “good” plates the rollers may have inked other areas of your design before hitting the text therefore depositing less ink on the text. Consider which way you layout your plate and see if that rectifies the problem. Remember that each design and its surface area as well as layout will give you different inked results.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with your problem, but I thought I would throw out this typographical tidbit. Mrs. Eaves is a digital typeface based on the original metal typeface Baskerville. Over a century ago the in-the-flesh Mrs. Eaves was John Baskerville’s mistress. So now you know how the name was derived.


Perhaps Mrs. Eaves has returned in spirit and has put a curse on John Baskerville and his fonts. Re-setting in Caslon might help alleviate your problem! Of course, John Baskervile spent most of his lifetime trying to improve on Caslon’s typeface, so we might run into … more … curses!

Miss C, try roller bearers on each side of your chase, this might solve your problem. Dick G.

miss c

It may be a printing problem but Emigre fonts tend not to print well letterpress. It has to do with the way they were designed, essentially without regard for, and even refutation of, traditional letterform construction. The way Baskerville produced his typefaces and the way Mrs Eaves was produced are worlds apart.


It’s really interesting to read all your comments, thanks so much for the assistance!

BespokePress, thanks for the tip about changing the layout of the plate - I will give this a go.

Just on this - is it generally okay to print a plate that, for example, has a landscape orientation, but to flip it on its side (so it is portrait) and so the rollers hit it from side to side, rather than from top to bottom? Does this normally make no difference to how it prints, or could it make some? I was thinking it would be better to mount and print the plate the same way as how the text/design on it is oriented, but not sure if this makes a difference, or if in theory I should be able to mount it in any direction on the base?

Good to know re Emigre fonts, if plates weren’t expensive I would do some experimenting. I’ve been having problems with Mrs Eaves Italic as well so perhaps it is true :(

Really appreciate the help!

In theory and in the perfect world, orientation of the plate is of no consequence. Any of the four ways will work for the printing. Orientation is most often arranged for the paper feeding.
We don’t live in the perfect and theoretical world. If the form is not exactly type high; if the rollers are not set just right; if the lock-up isn’t just right; if the inking is not right, your world is not perfect. The inking really has to be right or all the changes and cursing will do no good. If the inking is right, you might try changing the orientation. It is not a true problem solution, but it may alleviate a symptom and allow you to get the work through the press. The good printer learns to identify the cause and remedies the cause rather than try to work around symptoms.
If you change something and it works, give thanks and remember what you did, You will probably have to do it another day.

Thanks Inky, I will try experimenting with the orientation of the plate and see if I have better luck! Thanks for the advice :)