Paper & Card Stock Suited To Copper Half Tone

Hello all,

We have just been loaned a series of copper half tones blocks of our village from around the 1920s. This is an entirely new aspect of printing for us, but very exciting.

We gave some of them a go on one of the platen presses today and they worked much better than we had expected, although there is clearly also a lot of room for improvement. We will try the proofing press next.

For the our experiments today we tried the smoothest uncoated board we had, but this still had too much texture to print satisfactory. We then tried some very smooth tissue paper and this showed what we could achieve - which was exciting.

Does anyone have any suggestions on coated paper/card stock for that would be suitable for printing these? Coated paper is not something we have used in the past. We are UK based.

All and any suggestions very welcome.

Kind regards,


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Halftones of any kind work best on an enamel (coated) stock. They take about a quarter to a third of the ink that you are used to slathering on the press. We always used a NSHT black (non-scratch halftone black, oil-based with perhaps a third of its volume bronze blue toner, to increase the intensity of the black.) Your rollers must be set as lightly as possible, to avoid pushing the ink film down the sides of the dots, and they should have no trace of slide or you’ll smear the ink over the edges. While halftones may be successfully printed on any good platen, they work best on a cylinder, such as a Kelly, Miehle, Little Giant, C&P Cylinder, or what have you. Remember to start SPARINGLY with your ink, and only add if necessary; any excess is trouble and will probably cause setoff. Print and handle in small lifts, and, if heavy dark subjects, slipsheet with cutup telephone directory. Once you get the feel for this, there should never be any dread of printing halftones! Good luck!

Hi Frank,

Thanks so much for your advice, really helpful. Yes, I think our FAG proofing press will be much more sucessful for these than the platen.

Do you have any suggestions of actual brands or card stocks to use? I guess we’ll want a book weight paper and then a 500-600gsm card stock.


I’ve printed several copper halftones on a smooth finished uncoated cover stock. (I don’t remember the exact stock). We used 1/4” foil stamping dies, mounted to honeycomb blocks. They were either 85 or 100 line, about 4”x 4”. I got a good result on our Heidelberg Windmill. Our die maker, Metal Magic, complained, and said they could not guarantee the quality, but they turned out perfect.

Hi James,
As already mentioned Halftones are best printed on a cylinder press and as you have a Fag press you should do well. To get the best results you will need to do some prep work, ideally putting a 2 sheet underlay under the plate to improve tonal difference and then a 3 sheet overlay in the cylinder packing. As for stock, matt or gloss coated stock will give the best results and Antalis or Premier paper companies have a good range and can supply samples. As an old Letterpress printer I have printed many many copper halftone plates on large format presses but like you I have my own challenge to print copper halftones on my Heidelberg Windmill. I have printed Polymer halftones on the platen. If you need any guidance on makeready I would be pleased to help,
contact me on my link.

Hello Frank,

Thank you so much for your response - I might well take you up on that!

Kind regards,