The Letterpress Style

13 May, 2013 by Victoria Love

Letterpress is a printing technique that has been around since Gutenberg invented the printing press and was in use until the mid-20th Century when it fell out of favour. Since the taste for ‘retro’ has taken hold, letterpress has undergone a revival. There are many book cover designs that are using the effects of old wood type and letterpress to evoke a sense of nostalgia and visual texture. Some have retained the distortions of the original type, while others are modern renderings; I believe the latter have retained less character and seem to defeat the purpose of using wood type. The inconsistencies in the lettering are favoured because they differ from technologically ‘perfect’ digital typography.

I have found a selection of covers that I feel have successfully used the medium:

'The American Civil War' by John Keegan, 2009.

Fig. ii – ‘The American Civil War’ by John Keegan. Dewilde, B and Knopf, 2009. (

'No Country For Old Men' by Cormac McCarthy, 1999.

Fig. iii – ‘No Country For Old Men’ by Cormac McCarthy. Pearson D., and Picador, 2010.

'Good Faith' by Jane Smiley, 2004.

Fig. iv – ‘Good Faith’ by Jane Smiley. Wilson, G and Anchor, 2004. (

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