The term deboss

When I learned of letterpress printing 60+ years ago, it was called printing. I did not know the term letterpress printing until years later when offset became more popular. Neither did I hear the term deboss. I later thought that term was invented to describe what we viewed as smash printing. Poor makeready, not fine printing.
I recently saw a 1987 paper manufacturer’s brochure displaying all the nice things one could do with their paper. Included was a sheet that was embossed and also debossed
and they used that term. The debossed portion was a larger area than a few pieces of type. It was blind. It was a nice use of the technique.
It was also the first date (1987) I have seen that uses the term.
Any historians that can contribute?
I should add that I respect the new artist who may want to put some punch in the paper.

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The term is in my 1976 edition of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. It is noted that it is a term used in bookbinding, impressing an image into a cover. I find it interesting that somehow people think that letterpress can be printed without impression. ‘Kiss’ impression doesn’t mean no impression, it only means that enough impression has been made to make the type or image print cleanly. To get a clean image on a hard, calendared paper you need less impression, this was why books and magazines tended to use extra smooth papers to improve the quality of half-tones and to print type cleanly. It also aided in drying, making a quicker turn-around. A soft paper by its very nature takes more impression because the paper must compress until the image has a platform. I still like the advice I was given by my mentor: Type should only go halfway through the paper, it you turn the sheet over you should only see the slightest of indentation. When I see 6 point types printed with the same amount of indentation that a 72 point type needs to print cleanly, then I know that there was no accurate makeready on the job. If you are printing a thick, fibrous sheet I expect to see more impression, than say, on a sheet of index which has a hard surface and doesn’t need hard impression to print well.


that mentor’s name would it be Ben???

That is the term that is used when dickg enters the composing room. Apprentices say, “There comes deboss!” Meaning: “Get to WORK! — There is the BOSS!”

For more definitions and discussion on emboss and deboss, see:

@dickg: I thought that Ben was the name of your apprentice.

James, you got it wrong, thats what i say when my wife comes in, and Paul, OUCH!!! that was good, got me good, now i’ll clean the coffee i sprayed on my computer screen off before my boss sees it.