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Howard Iron Works - Printing and Bookbinding Equipment Restoration and Printing Museum  


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Letterpress is a method of printing using raised surface images or type. Machines, whether they are rotary, platen, hand or cylinder, developed from the use of this method. Various countries varied the height of their type and this was the beginning of standardization. Lead type would be made into a forme, and subsequently a locked chase would be placed in a bed of the machine.

Adding illustrations such as the early wood, then linoleum cuts allowed for visual art to flourish. Once the mechanical line screening process evolved and photographs could be imaged or etched, this led to the connection between film and letterpress and pushed us into more intricate work as well as color.

The process of re-creating photographic quality (with letterpress) was very costly and time consuming. This led to the encouragement of a newer technology - Lithography. However, the art of letterpress brought forth symbiotic processes in copper plate etching, intaglio and flexography. All of these are still key technologies today.


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