Print processes: letterpress printing

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The letterpress printing process takes its name from the method by which the process was used, i.e. ‘letter - pressing’. Johannes Gutenberg is credited with the invention (circa 1440) , but as early as the 2nd century the Chinese and Japanese used the ‘letterpress’ method to print using engraved wooden, porcelain and metal blocks.

The major development in letterpress printing was the use of woodcut and cast movable and reusable letters, known as ‘type’. The letters were handset into lines to form pages and the pages locked into a ‘chase’ to create the ‘forme’ ready for fitting into the printing press.