Letterpress stationery has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts, after nearly vanishing over the past centuries. Surprisingly very little has changed since the first days of letterpress. The original letterpress printing skills developed centuries ago, used raised metal type cast in individual letters.
Modern day printers today still use moveable type made from metal or wood. The type is patiently hand-set, locked into a metal frame or chase. Plates are still locked into chases, hand-mixed ink is applied, and then pressed on to the paper and sheets which are fed on and off, one at a time, with each print having its own unique variations of ink coverage and depth of impression. Not much is different since the 1400’s, even Johannes Gutenberg (the father of the printing press) would recognize the techniques. It is still both time consuming and labor-intensive. But it is so highly valued in today’s world for the unique tactile impression it leaves behind; you are drawn to run your fingers across the sheet and feel it… a printing method that cannot be replicated by any other printing process.
Renewed interest in letterpress was fueled by Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, which began using pictures of letterpress invitations in the 1990s. The beauty and texture became appealing to brides who began wanting letterpress invitations instead of engraved or offset-printed invitations. At the same time, presses were being discarded by commercial print shops, and became affordable and available to artisans throughout the world.
Letterpress transforms paper into art– it changes it from flat to sculptural. And it holds color elegantly, as if the pressed areas are reservoirs of ink. In a world of mass production, creating something that people hold onto is more valuable than ever. Letterpress printing offers that distinction.
The entire Rossi Letterpress collection is made with traditional letterpress printing machines. Very few paper makers produce letterpress decorative and wrapping papers, as there are very few machines left in the world. For Rossi’s decorative sheets, big antique letterpresses are used such as the Italian made Nebiolo and the original Heidelberg, created in pre-war Germany.
It was, and remains, the epitome of automated flat platform, or platen, press design. The printing principle is the same, but they are a different size.
The nature of the process requires a paper that is high quality…both heavy weight and pliable that will not tear or thin out when pressed. Rossi utilizes a perfect type of papers using fibers that are soft and readily accepts the impression as well as the ink.
Rossi launched letterpress decorative papers in 2012 with 7 designs, each in 2 colorways for a total of 14 styles with designs that go back to the 15th and 16th century. In 2013 the collection doubled and for 2014 and beyond Rossi added spectacular letterpress Christmas designs with gold foil. The 2016 Holiday Letterpress collection is the best to date.
The letterpress papers have inspired an extensive stationery and gift item collection; journal covers, notepads, pencil cases, soaps, boxes for stationery with both symbols and monograms. We are very proud of our collection of luggage type gift tags which consumers had been clamoring for.
Whether found on decorative papers, ornate wedding invitations produced by hip graphic artists, or used for holiday greeting cards, letterpress is popular with a generation eager for an alternative to the slick, fleeting appeal and quality of modern correspondence. Beautiful, tactile and simply exquisite, letterpress has a rich warm feel that one can’t find in any other printing style.
For more information on Rossi1931’s letterpress 2016, go to