Briar Press Continuation

There has been a rumor floating around that the Briarpress forum may be shutting down. In light of this possibility, a group of us are gathering digitally to talk about what that might mean, and to talk about the digital preservation of printing sites. I’m hoping I can be put in contact with someone who can:

Confirm or deny that Briar Press is no longer going to be maintained

Talk to a few of us about archiving the site, if this is what the operators would like.

We all want to support the site, that is the main thing. If there is something we can do to help, I think we would all be glad to do that. If not, we would be glad to do whatever it takes to make sure the site is properly archived somewhere.

I hope this reaches you all well,

Brent Comstock

Posting on behalf of a group of like minded letterpress printers

Log in to reply   16 replies so far

The many letterpress sites on Facebook add up to a lot of duplication (triplication?). Briar Press has been a great site just for being there (for a long time) and for being directly accessible from any browser. I would hate to see it go.

Who moderates it now? Could they please speak up? It might be possible to transfer management to somebody else, assuming the current manager would like to step aside.

The advertising was always my first go-to spot; I would love to see it running again.

Mike Barnes, Mayne Island, B.C.

Hi, my name is Dave Hughes, and some of you may know me through the Metal Type website.

I have used the Briar Press website for many years and will be sorry if current events are signs of the site’s demise.

I hear that the site is currently unable to take new advertisements. I would like to offer some assistance in the shape of a free letterpress advertising platform.

Metal Type is on shared hosting and currently operates well below its resource limits.

It is based in the UK, but has an international audience, with the majority of users coming from the US and Canada.

It has some tremendous light-weight advertising software which is currently under-utilised.

Advertising is free and adverts currently delete themselves after 90 days. The option to create an account gives users their own control panel to manage their ads.

There are categories for Composing, Presses and Books/Publications, both for sale and wanted. Adverts do not appear immediately but need to wait for Moderation (which is done by me). Please bear in mind that my sleep pattern may be different to yours!

Posting ads is pretty straightforward and Ads can contain photos. There is an automatic email which sends out details of new ads to subscribers.

I hope everyone takes this post in the spirit it is intended. My aim is to offer assistance to the letterpress community, not to further harm Briar Press.

Here are the links:

Metal Type Ads:

New Adverts Mailing List:

Yes it would be a pity if Briar Press goes away.

In other areas/groups, people have used Hosted discussion forums using open-source software.

An example is an Audio forum called Head-Case:

It is a plain user interface but quite functional.

Maybe if 5-7 people got together and each donated $5/month, Briar Press could move to a hosted forum service.

To put some of your minds at ease, should something happen to this website, the information won’t disappear. As far as I can tell, The Internet Archive (aka The Wayback Machine) currently has Briar Press fully archived through November 2022. That includes complete discussions. For more recent stuff, they have not archived the discussions yet - just the post titles on the main discussion page. Eventually another crawler will gobble that stuff up and add it to the rest.*/

That’s not to say it wouldn’t be a tremendous loss should this site disappear, but most of the information could still be accessed.

James Alcorn
Old Town Press
Staten Island


Thanks so much for your concern about Briar Press.

I’m happy to send word that reports about the death of Briar Press are (somewhat) exaggerated. But we are indeed experiencing a months-long backlog and, in a larger sense, a difficult moment of transition.

The current and fifth version of the website, which was launched back in 2007, is reaching the end of its functional life. It has fallen into a state of arrested decay, and must be administered by an arcane set of processes. Elizabeth, in her 80s and suffering from health issues, is no longer able to keep it afloat as she has for so many years. A remote support specialist we hired has been unable to continue, and I need to find and train someone new.

A screen-by-screen redesign of Briar Press already exists on paper, so to speak — more accurately, in Figma, a UI design tool. In the design work we sought to preserve the non-profit spirit of Briar Press while updating the user experience and improving accessibility across desktop and mobile devices.

Building the site on a new technology platform is the next step. And here I’ve been stalled as I consider the time and difficulty involved in launching a new website while also preserving a wealth of existing content. I’m currently working with a product specialist to develop a feasible development road map.

Meanwhile, as administrative support on the current website unraveled over the past few months, I’ve had no bandwidth to address the site’s operational needs. This dire state appears quite reasonably to be fueling the impression that we have simply given up.

I don’t have much spare time right now to provide regular updates, but would be very interested to hear thoughts from anyone who has an interest in seeing Briar Press endure. I am among those who do, and am aiming to see that it does.

Eric Nevin

Dear Eric Nevin,

This is very good news.

There is wide support for our beloved Briar Press in the letterpress community. If you need financial backing to realize your goals and transition, I think you will find it in this group. The threat of it going away has made us all realize how much the site contains and how much we want it to continue.

Many many thanks to you and your mother for starting and maintaining this wonderful site.

Heather Hale


Thank you for sharing an update about the current status of BP.

Back in 2016 I experienced some technical diffculties with the site and had an email exchange with Elizabeth. In that discussion I offered my services to help build a new modern version. She said that she’d pass along my message to you.

Last Thursday evening I replied to that same email thread. If you have access to the staff@ email address then you should be able to find it under the subject line “Briar Press: Your technical issue.”

Either way, my offer to help still stands. Aside from running a letterpress business with my wife I also have a software company. So this fits within my wheelhouse well.




Sorry if my post accentuated the concern unnecessarily, although I am happy to see an outpouring of support for Briarpress from my fellow printers.

I am happy to see you comment here with an update, which I think will tide our community over for a while. Whatever support you need, we are here to help. Briarpress is a major contributor to our letterpress community. I think it is fair to say that many of us, me included, got our start in letterpress printing by reading the forums here. You have our thanks and our support, just say the word.

Brent Comstock

I’d be happy to lend whatever technical help might be relevant including possibly retooling the Arcane Processes which may be needed. Drop my a line if interested-

sonic dot net

Just popping in here to say how much I appreciate Briar Press! I’m still a novice, but I wouldn’t have gotten off the ground at all without it.

Me, too - and me neither!

Hi printers all,
I’ve been member for sixteen years I believe and once or twice in a long while have contributed from here in the UK. I check in almost daily and would miss it very much. Look after it folks, its a treasure.
regards to all
Stafford (not dead yet and still printing!)
PS question for the next pub quiz, why are US paper names what they are?


It’s been a while since I posted, but I just want to let you know that this site was really important to for me when I took over my family’s shop.

Please let me know if there is a way I can financially contribute.

Have you thought about using a Patreon site? Where members can contribute financially on a monthly regular basis?

Thank you,

Docs Coffee

I run a small hobby press and am a front-end web developer and UX designer by trade. I have over 7 years of experience as a developer and over 10 as a designer. I also am well versed in designing for accessibility (which is something briar press really needs to improve on). Also have done development for Drupal and WordPress run sites.

I would be happy to give back to a community that has been such a big help. I also love helping out with open-source software and making things easy to use for everyone.

Please reach out if my expertise can be of any help,
Ash Flinn
Bold Crow Press

Tried to delete duplicate post, but there wasn’t an option to do that :(

If the site is still on Drupal you can absolutely migrate it to a newer version to see if that’s adequate before you decide to build from scratch. The nice thing about Drupal and WordPress sites is that since more people have experience with them it’s easier to find people to help out as opposed to something built from scratch.