Letterpress forme with hand set Garamond TypeThe other day I fetched up in the lovely market town of Coggeshall in Essex to meet Justin Knopp of Typoretum about doing some bespoke letterpress work.

Justin Knopp Typoretum

Walking into the studio is like stepping back eighty years or so, and everywhere your eye settles in the cramped space there is something interesting to look at. Four presses are lined up down the centre of the space and the walls are lined with drawer upon drawer of metal and wood type, ready to be set into greetings cards, posters, stationary projects or anything else at all. Somehow it’s no surprise to learn that this is only a fraction of Justin’s collection, and there is plenty more a few miles away, both typefaces and presses, including a giant 1888 Wharfedale Cylinder Press he is painstakingly restoring – read about it on the Typoretum blog.

poster formeI came away with a strong sense of painstaking exactness and the quiet attention to detail that characterises Justin’s work, to the point of presenting hand printed stationary in handmade boxes he does himself because he can’t find ones which are nice enough on the open market.

Typoretum letterpress card

These pictures are all from the Typoretum Flickr stream which has lots more beautiful photos of the printing process, from drawing out designs in pencil on layout paper to the finished pieces. I look forward to the time when some of the sweetly funny neo-Victorian posters I saw in the workshop will be available online too.

For now there’s a stock range of greetings cards and some lovely bespoke stationary options, all printed on beautifully soft, tactile mould made papers which are a joy to pick up and hold. I’m so happy this immensely time consuming form of printing isn’t dying out completely.

NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at http://flatlanders.co.uk/ – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

3 responses to “Typoretum

  1. What a delight to watch your clip (and the music!), of the arrival of the old Dawson Wharfedale at your works. I ran a smaller hand-fed Harrilds Rapid Wharfdale at 66 Newcomen Street in the Borough, London Bridge, at my Grandfather’s Business, J J Millington, (Printers) Ltd. from 1949 until we moved to larger premises in Southwark Bridge Road, when the old Foolscap Broadside Wharfdale was replaced by a more modern Mercedes stop-cylinder press which took us right into the Offset period and Letterpress had gradually to go. I’d love to have been able to have hept the Harrilds machine. Julius Stafford-Baker is an old friend; we met at London School of Printing in the 1950s, and are still in touch with each other. I came upon your lovely web site by typing ‘Wharfedale printing machines’ into Google Images, so we have to be most grateful for modern technology, as well as the preservation of timeless processes such as you and Julius are still practicing.
    With best wishes, Frank Millington,
    (24th March 2010)

  2. booglysticks

    Hi Frank, really good to hear from you. I’ve passed this on to Justin, whose website is at http://www.typoretum.co.uk/ – I know it will please him

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