Ink is always too light

I’m still pretty new at printing. I own a Golding Pearl #3. I know that letterpress printing is typically pretty light in color. However, I see a lot of print jobs online where printers seem to obtain a good dark color. Is there a trick to it? Do I need to hit the same piece multiple times? Thanks in advance!

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Letterpress printing is not typically light in color, that is unless a light color is being printed. Let me guess… you are using Lettra paper and can’t get good coverage. Lettra is a poorly made paper, and won’t take ink properly unless it is dampened, and when it’s dampened is is prone to de-laminate. Try Arches 88 if you want a thick paper that will take ink well. If what I’ve written doesn’t apply to your situation, then you need more ink, and more or less impression.

Make sure your rails are type high and you have enough ink out. There will be times when you have to modify the ink to get it just right. Lettra is not the best paper - but it is totally possible to get the correct color with a little bit of work.
What kind of shape are your rollers in?
I print mostly on a Heidelberg platen. Haven’t printed on a golding or a C&P in a little while. Shoot me an email if you have any specific questions or I would be happy to hop on a call to help you out in any way I can.

Set your rollers first. then make sure your block is type high .918 . Letterpress is not typically light. Are your rollers good rollers. are you carrying enough ink

Ahhhh. Thanks everyone! My rollers are only like a year old on my Pearl. I used to print on a Vandercook press. I always seemed to get a light print with it as well. I just assumed that was typical of letterpress. I will definitely check my roller height. Thank you all!

By the way, Devils Tail Press, you nailed it! I’m using Lettra paper. I love love love Lettra! Is Arches 88 as dreamy a paper?

I hate Lettra and Ive been printing on it for about 2 years - the more you work with it, the more trouble you’ll have with it, trust me. It never takes a nice dark even solid. Id hardly call it dreamy -its thick sure but it’s impossible to cut well, the ecru is hideously yellow, and you will continue to struggle getting an even solid. I’m thinking of switching to another paper when I can find one I like. I want to try Wild! or a Strathmore but the Legion paper sample pack that was supposed to come with it didn‘t… so Ill have to wait.

Make sure to check what black you are using, there is a printing black and a mixing black - that threw me off in the past when I couldn’t get a deep proper black.

I would reserve the term ‘dreamy’ for hand-made papers from Magnani, Amalfi, Ruscombe, and Richard de Bas mills. Lettra is a less-than serviceable paper, made cheaply, and sold to people who don’t know better. Cheap, I suppose, is the attraction for most printers, but with paper you certainly get what you pay for. I would recommend that you get the swatch-book for 100% Rag Fine Art Papers from Talas in New York. It is a good representation of the mould-made papers that are currently available. I would recommend the Somerset line which is more reasonable in price, with a variety of colors (Arches 88 is a great paper, but only comes in white).


Where is a good source for Arches 88?


Try this link:


I think you meant this link:


No one has mentioned the reasonably priced Savoy which cuts 100 times better than lettra and actually folds without cracking. The issue that drives a lot of us to print lettra is the envelope choices and it comes precut in card sizes which honestly is my achilles heal. I don’t enjoy spending hours cutting parent sheets to 4bar. I am not a big fan of lettra but as it is the price of lettra is very expensive and my clients are not willing to shell out twice the amount for the Somerset or Arturo which I love.

Ive ordered samples of Savoy, its about equal in price to lettra, and when I printed on it I liked it. You are correct about the envelopes though! I would much prefer to print on a true printmaking paper, but I cant be bothered to cut down parent sheets and its too tedious and costly to take them to a printshop to have them cut when I can’t always trust them to do it with great precision.

I agree with Panthera about Lettra- blah. Savoy is good but seems more work for me to get. (I can get lettra locally). I had one customer who saw Wild at a show and had to have it. When I show samples everyone points to that project as a favorite. I think it was expensive but in my limited experience using it Wild would be something worth trying.

Thank you all SO much! You’ve opened my eyes to other papers and how difficult Lettra can be. I’m going to order some paper samples immediately!

For those that think getting matching envelopes for Savoy is a problem, I point you to two sources. Reich Paper, the importer of Savoy and

Reich stocks full sheets, cut sheets and envelopes. stocks sheets and pre-scored cards and matching envelopes. I have always found Savoy to provide much more satisfactory results than some of the other popular brands of cotton “letterpress” papers.

Reich doesn’t import Savoy, they manufacturer it.

I’ve found the best place to get Reich is which is in the midwest but ships to the east coast faster than some large paper distributors in my own city. They also have all the common envelopes.

Nice to know that sells folded savoy cards.

You can get Savoy from Unless I calculated wrong (which is possible…), is much more expensive.

letterpresspaper has a 25 sheet minimum and doesn’t carry the 184#, which I find to be the sweetspot between their original sizes.

And paperpapers gives a discount…and ships to NYC faster than Legion, for some reason!

I order cut down Savoy, Lettra (and now you can get wild) from Always have great customer service and it ships very quick to Virginia!