Plea for letterpress stories!

Hi there,
Some of you will have read about the letterpress project we’ve been running in conjunction with the National Trust and The Heritage Lottery fund here in Kent, UK.

If not - we basically bought a Cropper Minerva platen, and have been using it to reprint a poem by Vita Sackville-West entitled ‘Sissinghurst’. The project involved training up ten volunteers in the processes of letterpress, and then those volunteers hand typesetting, printing, binding and marbling the poem. You can see some pictures and read about the project at

Anyhow, as part of the funding we were given, we were tasked with recording stories of those who have been in the ‘letterpress world’ over the past 40+ years. We are aware that the craft has gone through such a massive shift in the last decades, and part of the proviso of the funding was that stories from printers, compositors and the like would not be lost.

The project is mainly based in the UK, but stories from around the globe are welcome too!

So this post is a bit of a plea for contributions to this record! I’m basically asking if you’d be prepared to write as little or as much as you like, about any or all of the following:

-What encouraged or caused you to get involved with letterpress printing in the first place?

-How would you say the craft / business has changed over the last 30 years?

-What role would you say letterpress, and methods of traditional printing have in contemporary society?

-What’s your favourite story / memory or occasion in your career (or time as a hobby printer)?

-What would you say has been the saddest moment in your career (or time as a hobby printer)?

-What one bit of advice would you like to pass on to anyone just starting out

-Something else you’d like to share!

You don’t have to give your name, though you can if you want, and the stories will mostly be up on the blog I listed above, though we are looking at ways to be able to physically print this document (after all, it seems a bit weird just keeping it on the Internet, when we have such a beautiful press to print with).

I’d also be interested in any photos, drawings etc that you might want to contribute as well - perhaps a photo of you all smiling around a new press, or your first day as a compositor etc.

Please also don’t worry about it ‘sounding right’ or needing to format things in any way. Just scrambled thoughts, a couple of sentences - anything at all will be gratefully received!!

You can either comment below, send me a message via BP, or email me at: [email protected]
I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have!

Hope it was ok to ask!!

xx Vicki

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Please also feel free to share this with anyone you know who might be willing or able to contribute :)

The crowd here is not usually reserved about sharing stories! I should think you will be overwhelmed!!

Emthree, The crowd, as suggested, have possibly become a little more reserved, of late. Read the Blog as suggested and substitute the (o) for an (a)

I was a little surprised by the silence too, Emthree. I wish I could be on hand to offer everyone who responds a pint, or something like that.

Still, no-one likes an overenthusiastic newbie, perhaps its that…

Can anyone help? I’m not beyond begging.
Even a couple of sentences would be great.

x Vicki


I’ve only been doing this for 3 years, so my stories and experience aren’t quite up to snuff yet.

You should get thee to the LETPRESS mailing list:

I suspect you’ll have a better response there.


Another suggestion — spend some time navigating the painfully difficult to navigate archives on here, and you’ll come across the same names that have stories to tell. Maybe contact those individuals personally and ask for their stories?

kentpterodactyl, if you search here at briarpress in discussion “letterpress stories and anecdotes” you will find a pot of gold. best james

Thats so funny James! I was just thinking to myself that I can remember that old thread with all the stories, and when I looked it up, I realized started it! Had fun reading through it again.