Books on letterpress printing - in need of suggestions

Ok… so I need some help from you guys again.

I’ve been trying to learn, and slowly acquire some experience in letterpress printing on my own. I had been exposed to the process through an old printmaking friend/teacher… but I have since moved to a new state, and no longer have his guidence.

I’ve been searching over the net for some books that might be of help… but have found little. I’m thinking that if I can search for specific titles, that it would be much easier. Maybe.

I understand and have had experience in the process of printing… but know little on the process of typesetting.

I’m wondering if you guys have any book recommendations? titles and authors would be great.

Thank you kindly,

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Introduction to Printing, Herbert Simon, Faber and Faber
Techniques of Typography, Cal Swann, Lund Humphries
Printing for Pleasure, John Ryder, The Bodley Head
You’ll find plenty of them on

A classic book on the subject, and one that my folks use constantly is Polk’s ‘Practice of Printing”. It covers just about everything one needs to know about printing with hand-set moveable type on a platen press.

His other book “Linoleum Block Printing” is helpful, but not as applicable for letterpress.

One very good current book is: Maravelas, Paul. _Letterpress Printing: A Manual for Modern Fine Press Printers_. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2005 and London: The British Library, 2005. NA Graphics carries it (

One other early 20th century book is Henry, Frank S. _Printing for School and Shop_ (circa 1917, with a couple of variations in the title depending on who was publishing it). This is not quite as good as Polk, but similar in many ways. It has the advantage of being online, free, at Google Books.

Google Books also has a 1918 volume by Polk, _Vocational Printing_. Again, it’s not quite as good as his _Practice of Printing_ from the 1920s, but it’s not bad, and is free.

There are a few other volumes on Google Books, as well. A good university library can also be a wonderful resource.

David M. MacMillan

All good books to start with.

Once you know the title and author, if you are in North America, try looking at and You will be amazed at the variety of things available there.

YOU ARE ALL MY HEROES! and you rock my socks off!!!

Thanks thanks thanks!!!!!!!


I can help. Have the following used books. Just perfect for you. I have “The Practice of Printing by Polk”; “Printing for School and Shop by Henry; “Practical Intro to Graphic Arts by Jackson”; “Graphic Arts” by Kagy”; “General Printing by Cleeton”, etc.

Recommend the frst two books @$25 each. Others are $20 each; General Printing is $29. Shipping extra.
Send for list of other items that can help you.