The western tradition of letterpress printing was probably invented in fifteenth-century Germany by Johannes Gutenberg. It is an artisanal process where individual characters or letters (type) cast from molten lead are assembled into a composition using spacing material and held in a steel frame (chase). The complete assembly (forme) is then transferred to the press where the type is inked – mechanically, or by hand-roller – before being subtly kissed into paper using a press.
This principle remained the same for approximately 500 years before being transformed into an extensively mechanized skilled industry. The commercial application of the process survived well into the late twentieth-century before being superseded by more versatile processes. At Flowers & Fleurons however we celebrate the craft nature of letterpress as a unique survivor in this digital age.
Flowers & Fleurons has a tidy collection of lead type: twentieth-century revivals of classic types like Caslon, Baskerville and Bodoni; twentieth-century originals like Gill Sans and Perpetua; and a flourishing set of printers’ ornaments or fleurons.