Letterpress Commons is live

Congratulations to Boxcar press for Letterpress Commons which is now live!


The website is looking like it is everything Briar Press’s Museum could have been + so much more.

Progressive thinking is such a positive thing.

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was wondering if anybody was going to say anything! I stumbled upon it the other day, I figured the idea was to let it go live and give it a few days/weeks to let people catch bugs before doing a big launch.

For what it’s worth, considering they include Briar Press as a major contributor, it looks like perhaps it’s intentional that Letterpress Commons includes the museum that had started as a section here. It looks like it will be great compliment to this site and other lists, as it’s set up as a wiki and not a discussion group.

It appears to only include people who have bought from Boxcar — I looked at areas where I would have expected to see names or sites appear but the ones I thought would be there were not. So at this point it’s a “travel to visit other Boxcar customers” site.


I’m sure that’s just where they’ve started and other will be added now that its live.

Looks great! But oh no, not another letterpress site to check every day. Just kidding of course. With so few, and such far-flung practitioners, these sites make us a community. I am so grateful to the folks who put them together. Without the support and feedback from you guys out there, my pursuit of the printing craft would have been a lonely one if it had survived at all.


Just saw this post for the first time, as I was coming by to make this announcement separately. Perhaps this would be a good place to clarify Boxcar Press’s role. We are responsible for the coding, hosting, site maintenance, etc. It was an outgrowth of a phone call about a book project I had with Jenny Wilkson about a year ago…

As far as being a list of (or for) our customers, that’s far from the truth. We reached out to over 8,000 people with invitations for the launch, many of whom never bought anything from us. If we didn’t invite you, sorry, it’s nothing personal! The map intends to show all letterpress venues worldwide. So, if you’re not on the map, sign up, it’s easy! And I won’t hold it against you if you haven’t bought from us. ;)

You can sign up at our account page here:
(We do share account logins between Boxcar Press’s platemaking site and Letterpress Commons, but this is mainly to keep our respective headaches to a minimum.)

You can see the map that’s growing day by day here:

The real point I should make is that this is not a Boxcar Press project. Boxcar Press is responsible for the codebase and the server, sure. We helped get the ball rolling, along with a LOT of work from Jenny Wilkson and Kseniya Thomas (and others). But the content, including all articles, photos, map points, are community generated…and up to you. Any article is editable. Go ahead, add your 2 cents to anything you see or help clear our backlog of needs:

To give credit where credit is due, here is a list of the Core Contributors who’ve been toiling behind the scenes to get this off the ground:

Hope that helps explain our role. And…I look forward to seeing your contributions soon!


Oh, and I forgot to thank Eric and Briar Press, who did play a huge role in getting Letterpress Commons started. Despite a huge workload, Eric met with us early on and was very inspirational. As you guys noticed, we have taken on the maintenance of the press museum by reviving the content from Briar Press’s database (with their blessing).

We’re hoping over time that this museum will become more comprehensive through user contributions. Although it’s called a museum we’d like it to include as many models as possible, even the more commonplace ones. We’re also planning better integration of the museum with the rest of the site (by hooking up various presses to locations on the map and to the equipment manuals.)

Thanks Boxcar!! you guys/gals have been great promoting letterpress, and have done a very good job on the website. I look forwarding to checking the site throughout 2013



Well, yeah, that’s what it’s all about. So, use it similarly.


Not all Boxcar customers are listed on the map: I am not, my daughter is not, my spouse is not, and I suspect many others are not either.

I am a bit taken back by some of the comments posted. If Letterpress Commons takes off, it could be a huge resource for all who care about maintaining and sharing the history, knowledge and technique. Until Letterpress Commons proves otherwise, I am inclined to take them at face value.

We are very niche industry/art form and we should be supporting each other and not be critical of those who have some foresight into what may be most beneficial to all/most.

I certainly did not intend to criticize the project — I was just observing that it appeared that all the sites mapped were individuals or businesses that I assumed were customers. I was not clear how the sites were selected or added to the map, and leaped to the conclusion that they had been chosen and added by Boxcar. Evidently I missed some information on the site, and for whatever unsettlement I created I apologize. I’d love to see this include, for example, the many museums and other sites that have printing equipment on display where it can be seen by the public — and, I learned today, there are over 300 such museums alone! I wish Boxcar much success in hosting this resource.


Oh, no big deal here! I just hoped to clear up a misconception about Boxcar Press’s role, because I can imagine that it’s confusing what we’re doing and why. Also, because there are many other people behind making this site work, including you. We’re trying to be very transparent in our goals but there’s a lot going on, so we may not have explained things well enough.

One of the things that makes the map challenging is that we can’t really publish someone’s address without their permission. That’s how I feel, anyway. And try as we did to gather everyone’s permission in advance, it’s true that we were unable to in some cases. Part of the problem might have been that many of these pleas came from Boxcar Press, so I’m working on a simple form to “Invite a friend” to join the map. Perhaps with enough people asking M&H Type to join, they eventually will, for instance. More on that in a few weeks…

To that end I just put up a Development Plans page so that people can see what code we’re working on behind the scenes. The code, somewhat like the content, is a work in progress, though it doesn’t have the advantage of being crowdsourced. At least we could be more transparent:

Also, we really want your feedback, good and bad. If you feel there’s something we could do better, please let us know at our Feedback Forum:

I just spent a couple of hours plumbing the depths of Letterpress Commons. It’s a beautifully executed site with so much information: the museum, all those manuals in one place, the techniques (my next project is pressure printing), the map. Thank you Jenny, Kseniya, Harold, and the many editors and contributors.

My only complaint with this new site is the list of “recently edited articles” on the front page. Now I feel compelled to check them daily in case I miss something. :-)