I got an email this weekend from my buddy Peter Koch, letterpress printer and cultural buckaroo extraordinaire, based in Berkeley, California. Peter directed me to the Wikipedia entry for “Letterpress Printing,” specifically the subsection entitled “The letterpress revival since the 1990s.” The entry says:
Letterpress publishing has recently undergone a revival in the USA, Canada, and the UK, under the general banner of the ‘Small Press Movement’. Interest in Letterpress was fueled initially by Martha Stewart. The use of wedding invitations in her magazine Martha Stewart Weddings, was the first to use pictures of Letterpress invitations in their images. The beauty and texture became appealing to brides who began wanting Letterpress invitations instead of traditional engraved invitations. […] Popular presses are, in particular, Vandercook cylinder proof presses and Chandler & Price platen presses. In the UK there is particular affection for the Halifax, built by Arabs.
Needless to say, I was interested to discover that convicted felon and home decorator Martha Stewart was in fact responsible for ‘fueling’ the revival of letterpress printing. Here I had thought that it had something to do with all the incredible letterpress printers operating round the world (like those, for example, who are involved with the Fine Press Book Association). I also have no idea what a Halifax press looks like, or who these crafty Arabs are who manufacture it. Perhaps Martha can enlighten us in an upcoming issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, a must-read publication for anyone in the letterpress avant-garde.
So in tribute to Martha’s outstanding contribution to letterpress, and Wikipedia's endless potential for jawdropping insipidness, I’m posting one of Peter Koch’s great ephemeral pieces below. Keep your presses rolling, Peter. Some day you may make a contribution equal to Martha's.
ANDREW STEEVES ¶ PRINTER & PUBLISHER