Choosing the paper was another issue. Traditionally, letterpress should not leave an impression on the paper – this is not how most people today understand it, but historically, the real skill in letterpress was getting the ink left on the page after the paper just ‘kissed’ the type. Personally, I prefer an impression being made – this is called de-bossing and we had to find a nice paper that could cope with some impression like this.

I wanted to use an Italian paper – there are two Italian manufacturers who both produce excellent papers for the art world – Fabriano have been around since 1270 (before there was printing) and Magnani papers are the younger company at a mere 610 yrs old! There are so many to choose from but fortunately for me, Australia’s Magnani importer – James – is not far from the Museum so I picked a few to try out. My only requirement was that I didn’t want anything that was too yellow (hand made papers aren’t usually bleached).

We needed to balance the paper’s capabilities with the amount of de-bossing desired. I plumped for a 300gsm cotton paper called Pescia.

Type height is generally accepted as 0.918 inches in United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and USA.
In most of continental Europe it is 0.928 inches and for some reason I haven’t investigated, 0.933 inches in Belgium.

So we introduced packing onto the press to push the paper slightly more onto the type than the official type height – that way the type metal leaves an impression.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7