Letterpress Printing and Christmas cards - Blog | Letter Press

November 6, 2014

Christmas Cards and the Tradition of Letterpress Printing


This is one of our most popular Christmas cards: it has always been in print since The Letter Press was established in 1986. Its charm lies in its simplicity: a small scene of a pond in the snow, originally engraved on wood by Eric Ravilious and now printed letterpress from a photopolymer block on high white laid board.Ravilious produced it for the 1933 Kynoch Press Book, a diary published annually and each year decorated by a different artist. It is typical of the great days of wood engraving and letterpress printing,

Eric Gill, a Catholic convert, engraved and printed many Christmas cards throughout his career, usually just for his own friends. However his work for the private press publishers of the '20s and '30s also supplies many subjects suitable for cards: his initial for the Second Chapter of the Gospel according to St Luke makes a card which over time has proven to be very popular; it was engraved for The Four Gospels, published by Robert Gibbings at The Golden Cockerel Press in 1931. This year we have taken another of the initials from the book showing the Adoration of the Magi (Matthew 2:1), using black letterpress like the original, but picking out the initial in gold foil - which purists may find a bit difficult!


Letterpress printing is still alive and kicking, and we regularly print direct from wood blocks engraved by artists such as Simon Brett and Andy English. For a number of years we have printed the Christmas cards for the Society of Wood Engravers, who annually choose one of their members to illustrate the words of a familiar Christmas carol: for example the engraving below (John Lawrence, 2007) illustrates "Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar", another scene from the story of the Magi.


To find out more about our Christmas card range, please take a look here , or contact us on 01285 659797, sales@letterpress.co.uk.

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