French Paper SPECKLETONE Kraft 100lb.

Hi there,

I was wondering if anybody could offer some insight on French Paper Speckletone Kraft, 100lb.

I’m looking to print some wedding invitations on it and was wondering it’s a good choice of paper to print on a Vandercook (will it get a debossed effect?).

I am a TRUE beginner, but I am printing my wedding invitations with the help of Atelier Domino in Montreal. He has never used this French Paper on his press before so he suggested I ask here about the quality of the print on a Vandercook.

thanks in advance,

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I found it to be a fairly hard paper.

I would agree with Devils Tail. It’s a fairly hard paper.

I personally love printing on it, but I’m not going for a deep impression- I love my type (and my press) too much to damage them for a little impression.

If you are okay with having a nice paper that prints well but doesn’t get a good deep impression, French is great.

It is harder than Lettra. But it prints beautifully!! I love it. Even though it is hard it takes and impression quite well.

Re: french papers- There’s more wood fiber in it and no cotton fiber, so it doesn’t conform or take on a cast of whatever is pressed into it.
Also, the 100 LB stuff is pretty thin caliper compared to similar weight in lettra, but mostly because it’s so calendared when they run it through the rollers at the mill.
The paper can be the same weight, but be thicker/thinner depending upon the content (wood, cotton) and the finish/pressing at the mill (is it kid finish, velvet finish, rough, hot pressed, etc)

Cotton papers, like lettra as mentioned above or some of your softer printmaking papers or somerset velvet, are softer and a little more pillowy than wood fiber papers like a lot of the Mr. French stocks you can get. The major differences are the fibers and glue contents as well as the pressing they undergo at the papermill, and basically these papers have more woody content than cotton content- unlike lettra which I believe to be close to 100% cotton, iirc.

In the case of your spekletones and muscletones, it takes a hard bite to make an impression that’s visible or tactile in a noticeable way; not a ‘safe’ way to use the press, because you’re kind of asking too much of it. Rarely will you end up getting a truly ‘noticeable’ impression on those papers without smashing the ink and type or form or plate or whatever- you’ll deform photopolymer even.

My advice if you choose to work with this paper is to use minimal impression or if you want to hit it hard, use soft packing of some sort- maybe a thin rubber blanket- and to stiffen your ink somewhat by adding a bit of corn starch in a pinch, or hopefully the printer you seem to be working with will have magnesium carbonate in small amounts, so that the ink doesn’t ‘spread’ as much when you hit the paper with some impression.

This will help control the blurring effect of the paper compressing and deforming around the shoulder of your type, pushing the ink places it doesn’t belong.

I also hope you’ll elect to print from polymer or magnesium or copper or something, rather than handset type, as well- this would certainly mistreat the type, and noone here wants that (as has been pointed out time and time again).

Good luck with your project~ and best wishes!

Thank you, everyone for your input! Very helpful!!

I have ordered some Lettra samples so I can see and feel the paper, but I was looking for something of a darker color – beige / brown / kraft paper look.

I found Arturo - 96lb Cover Paper (260GSM) - STONE GREY.

I can’t seem to find anywhere the content of Arturo paper (if it’s cotton), but it seems popular for letterpress.

Is Lettra the only brand that is 100% cotton paper? Are there others that you can suggest?

Also, I plan on ordering polymer plates from Boxcar.

Danielle, I use French Paper Speckletone and Muscletone lines for all of my posters. I print on a 14 x 22 Craftsman and the paper prints great. I especially like the fact that French Paper is one of the few remaining family owned paper mills in America and the high recycled content in the Speckletone line.

Robert Arnold
The Dog House Workshop

Hello Danielle,

I believe Arturo is a 100% high alpha cellulose paper. I am not a paper expert, but here’s what I think that means. Cellulose is the main constituent of the cell walls of all plants, including trees and cotton. Cotton fibers contain pure cellulose, while wood pulp contains cellulose plus resins and other compounds. Paper manufacturers have developed a process that isolates the cellulose from wood pulp, and the purest form of this isolate is known as “100% high alpha cellulose,” which is believed to have archival qualities approaching those of cotton, though of course no one will know for a few hundred years. This page and this one are informative on the subject.

So it seems that 100% high alpha cellulose papers could be thought of as a synthetic form of cotton, though I couldn’t say whether they are as “safe” for your type as cotton. I have dampened mouldmade 100% high alpha cellulose papers, and they seem to behave much like cotton. I hope some real paper experts will chime in.


I am also new to letterpress. Which paper can have the best relief effect ? Is Crane’s Lettra is the best choice? I notice Lettra only up to 600gsm, any other option for higher weight?