Letterpress FAQ

We have compiled this list based on questions that we receive regularly from clients who are interested in working with. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us!

STUDIO     |      PRODUCTION     |     PRICING     |     DESIGN

How do I begin my project with Typothecary Letterpress?
Click here to fill out a form or call us at 484.269.6019

Why Typothecary Letterpress?
We take great care to get our clients what they want within their budget and with as little stress as possible. Our experience in letterpress lets you know you are in good hands and don’t have to worry about your letterpress project. We work with our clients throughout the entire process, so you can rest assured you will end up with a beautifully printed piece, just as you envisioned it. We’ve worked in a variety of jobs leading up to opening this company which gave us experience with design, production and printing. All of which come in handy on a daily basis.

Do I need an appointment? 
We recommend making an appointment if possible. It is always great to meet our clients, give them a tour of the studio and see the equipment your pieces will be printed on. That being said, we do plenty of work outside of the area that does not allow for in person appointments. So phone calls and emails work too!

What are your studio hours? 
Our studio visits are by appointment only right now. You are welcome to stop by and see if we are there if you’re in the area, but we don’t keep regular business hours, because we could be there any time of day or night depending on our production schedule.

What type of custom print jobs do you offer? 
We offer a variety of stationery including, shower invitations, save-the-dates, wedding suites, party invitations, birth announcements, personal notes, holiday cards, business products, picture frame mats, bar and bat Mitzvah invitations.

Is letterpress printing environmentally friendly? 
It is. The machines range from 60-130 years old. The papers we choose to use are 100% tree-free, cotton paper or 100% recycled paper produced in a mill powered by its own hydroelectric power. Both of which are family-owned and located in the USA. Letterpress uses little ink and the wash-up solvents are low-VOC. Paper scraps are saved for reuse on small projects or recycled.

What is the turnaround time? 
The creation of custom designs takes a bit longer since it includes design and production. Design time for wedding suites varies, but generally takes 2-4 weeks after the initial consultation and receipt of your copy & deposit. Once the final design is approved, production time ranges from two weeks for smaller jobs to 4 weeks for large quantity wedding. We recommend that you make your initial meeting about 4-6 months prior to your wedding for invitations, and 12 months or more for save the dates.

Will I get a proof? 
You will be provided with a digital PDF proof of your invitation for approval before production begins. After our initial consultation and receipt of deposit, we create a digital mock-up of your design and send it to you as a PDF proof. You can review the proof for design, grammar, spelling, and anything else that may need to be changed. We will make 2-3 rounds of changes to the proof until it looks just right. Please print your proof at home or work before approval because you’ll catch more typos or other errors. Once it is approved we’ll get started with production of the actual pieces.

What kind of ink do you use?
We use rubber-based letterpress inks and hand mix each color for each job. Hand mixing allows us to have less waste and make the proper amount of ink we need for each job. If your job requires a lot of one Pantone ink, we can order a can just for you at an extra cost.

What kind of paper do you use?
Most of our clients like to see a deep impression, so we use a cotton fiber paper. We stock Reich Savoy in multiple weights as our house stock, but are happy to print on a variety of papers depending on your job.

Can you match an ink color to a paper color?
Sure, we can match a paper stock color with our Pantone uncoated book to choose the proper color and get a pretty good match.

Can you print white ink on black paper?
We can, but it is not advised. White ink does not print as white on dark papers. We’d suggest trying silver instead, which we can show you samples of. Since white ink and light colored inks are not very opaque, the ink will print on the paper with a large amount of transparency. White ink has a blueish appearance when printed on black paper.

Can you print lots of colors?
Letterpress allows for printing one color at a time. We can print as many colors as you’d like, but the cost adds up quickly due to the time that goes into production. Each color comes with plates, set up, printing time and wash up time which adds to the cost.

How do you match my color?
We typically hand mix colors based on the Pantone solid uncoated book, which could appear completely different from the screen, please be sure to view a physical uncoated Pantone swatch book when selecting your colors. You can also send us a physical sample of a color (fabric, paper, etc) you’d like us to match. Our printed pieces will not match your on-screen preview.

Can you print metallic colors?
Yes! Metallic inks will print opaque on colored papers. Silver ink is typically our suggestion as a substitution for white ink on a dark or black paper. Gold ink also shows up nicely on dark colors. Although neither are what’d I’d call shiny metallic, but more of a dull sheen, they definitely look different than the otherwise transparent colors of ink. If you’d prefer a shiny finish to your piece, I’d suggest us discussing foil options instead.

What is a blind impression?
A blind impression is the result of the letterpress process but without ink. This is a great way to add subtle texture without color. Typically, we don’t recommend printing a blind impression for small text. Sometimes we would suggest printing a clear ink on white paper or a tonal ink impression on colored paper. This is billed as a one color job, since the process is the same.

What is a tonal ink impression?
When something is printed blind it relies solely on good lighting conditions to be legible. Tonal ink impression, which creates just enough contrast between the artwork and the paper to make your design visible. We suggest printing a small amount of ink, or clear varnish, for a slight tonal shift. This will look like a blind impression, but it is putting ink on paper for a tone-on-tone effect. We typically print the same color ink on the colored paper. (Example: black ink on black paper)

Can you print large quantities?
Large quantities are not a problem. We do have two cylinder presses in house to handle larger runs without a problem.

Can you print on both sides of a piece?
This is possible, however, I like to warn clients that either it should be printed flat or the impression that is printed last will be the one that shows up, while anything that overlaps printing on the opposite side, will push any impression back through. To get around this, each side can be printed on separate paper and then glued together like one thick sheet of paper, don’t worry you would never be able to tell! This option does come with a higher price tag though too.

I found a paper that I just love. Can you print my job on it?
We’d be happy to see what the paper is and use it if possible. Letterpress works best on softer uncoated papers. If your particular paper would not work well, we’d be happy to explain why and help you find a comparable replacement. If you supply the paper, we’ll need to make sure you order the right quantity. We prefer to order the paper but don’t necessarily have to if you already have it for some reason.

Do you offer calligraphy services?
We do! We work with a variety of calligraphers and hand letterers to be sure you get the style of lettering that works best with your invitation suite and that you love.

Do you offer envelope liners?
Yes, envelope liners can be custom designed to match your suite and die cut to fit perfectly into your envelopes.

Do you offer inner and outer envelopes?
Yes, you can order both inner and outer envelopes if you like.

I’m worried my envelopes won’t come in time for me to address them. Can you ship my envelopes ahead of the other pieces so that I can start addressing them?
Sure, if they are finished before the invitations, we will add the extra shipping cost into your final invoice. But not a problem for us. Typically everything is completed at once and this isn’t an issue.

Will you send extra envelopes along in case I make mistakes while i’m addressing them?
Yes we always include extra envelopes, especially if you are addressing them yourself or working with your own calligrapher.

What is the difference between letterpress and foil printing? 
Letterpress is a printing method that has been modernized to use an inked plate to press the design into the paper. The plate literally indents the paper to create a tactile experience as well as a visual design. Foil printing uses a heated metal printing plate that stamps your design from a roll of foil onto the paper. Foil options include shiny metallic, soft metallic, or matte solid color foil which can be used to stamp white or lighter colors onto darker paper.

What is the difference between letterpress and flat printing?
Flat printing is also known as digital printing, and is printed flat on the page. Letterpress as has been described, offers impression on the printed sheet, giving a tactile quality that can’t be achieved through any other printing technique.

Can you print sizes other than what is shown in the quote section of your website?
Yes, we can print up to approximately 9 inches by 12 inches. We’ve printed larger forms before by feeding them into the press, flipping them and printing them again on the other side to create a larger piece. Custom sizes are not an issue, although you may have a difficult time finding an envelope that fits your custom size.

Can you control the amount of impression you can see on the paper?
This is adjustable, typically we’ve found that most clients want a deeper impression, but we’ve had a few request less and even flat letterpress.

Can you combine full-color digital printing and letterpress?
Yes, We’ve incorporated both digital printing with letterpress on the same cotton stock that we letterpress on. If you show us your design, we are happy to walk you through the options that will get you the best result. Depending on the registration in the design, we can’t guarantee that digital will line up with the letterpress. Digital printing tends to not print at the exact same place on the page, making for difficulty registering since letterpress is spot on.

What kind of paper works best for foil stamping?
Smooth paper works best for foil printing. We do most of our foiling on savoy, but have used smoother stocks for different types of jobs.

Do you offer rush service for faster turnaround?
We can “rush” your order for a 25% fee. It typically cuts the normal turnaround time in half at the time of the job.

What is the thinnest line you can print?
The thinnest line we can letterpress is .35 Of a point. Anything thinner, and the line may not hold on the plate.

Can large solids or floods of color be letterpress printed?
Yes and no. Letterpress gives the best results with line art, and text. Most solid areas larger than 1 square inch thick should to be “double hit” or printed twice which can include additional charges.

What if you print my job and later on I realize that I need additional quantities?
This does happen sometimes. It’s not a problem to print extras of your. It would definitely be cheaper to have ordered more when your job was originally printed. The cost of a rerun will be comparable to the original job, minus the plate fee, and possibly labor, depending on the new quantity.

What is edge-painting and do you offer this service?
Edge-painting is when a color is applied to the very edge of a printed piece. This can be done in virtually any color, it could match or complement your job colors. This shows up better on our thicker stocks including savoy 236# paper or by mounting 2 sheets of thinner stock together, creating a thicker card. We do offer edge painting and can provide examples if you’d like.

How is calligraphy different from hand lettering and different from computer script fonts?
Computer script fonts represent original forms of hand lettering and can be used in invitation design for letterpress printing. Calligraphy is typically known as the original fancy hand lettering used in addressing guest envelopes. Calligraphers each have their own style but the look is more or less similar. More recently hand lettering has become popular and allows people to write guests addresses on your envelopes or write names for your invitation in their own special fancy typestyle. We work with a variety of calligraphers and hand letterers to help you find the perfect style for your invitation suite.

Do you offer return address printing?
We do, you can either have it digitally or letterpress printed on the flap of your mailing envelope.

How much does it cost? 
We are happy to help you find options that you love and that fit your personal budget. Prices do vary greatly depending on the type of project, the processes used, and the quantity you need. During the initial meeting, we fully explain your options as well as where they fall in the price ladder. Once we have all the specs for your particular job, we can get you the exact price for your job as well as make suggestions as to where you might be able to save and how. The majority of our cost is in the design and set-up, so smaller orders will cost more per piece than larger orders. We do have standard pricing calculators on each page of our site depending on what you are shopping for. They do not work out for custom jobs, but can get you a ballpark quote.

Why are letterpress & foil printing more expensive than digital printing? 
There are 3 things to keep in mind that make up the cost difference. Plates are made custom, based on your project and can add up, while digital printing does not use plates. The paper used for letterpress and foil that gives you that beautiful impression you are looking for are more expensive than the cheaper paper used in digital printing. Each sheet is usually hand-fed by a pressman, or presswoman, requiring more labor for letterpress and foil as opposed to a press operator pushing a button on a digital printer.

Why do you require a 50% deposit? 
Your non-refundable deposit covers the design costs and some of the materials used to produce your designs. The final payment, due at pick up, covers the rest of the materials and the labor used in production. A small portion goes to the cost of doing business that helps us to keep our doors open!

Can I pay in cash to avoid sales tax? 
No, this is illegal.

What is your payment schedule and what payment methods do you accept?We collect a non-refundable 50% deposit up front before any work begins and the 50% balance is due on delivery. We accept checks and credit cards.

Your prices are lower than some we’ve seen elsewhere. Is your quality comparable?
I’ve seen a wide variety of quality in letterpress printing, and I am happy to say that our quality is right up there with the best! We are happy to mail samples to you if you’d like to see for yourself. We are more than happy to walk you through every step of the process to be sure you are happy with your final product. We would also love for you to check out the reviews our past clients have left here and here.

Your prices are higher than some we’ve seen elsewhere. Why is that?
I’ve seen a wide variety of quality in letterpress printing, and I am happy to say that our quality is right up there with the best! We know we are not the cheapest, but we do offer fair prices for the product you get and are happy to meet with you so you feel comfortable working with us. We have a long list of happy clients that can attest to the quality of our work and their great experience.

Do you charge sales tax? 
We do charge 6% sales tax on all orders.

What is your return and refund policy? 
Custom orders are non-returnable and non-refundable.

Can you just send me a price sheet?
While we have a price calculator on our website, each job is typically custom, and the final prices you receive are adjusted to your personal project. We price all custom work based on the specs for your personal job.

Would you design something without printing it via letterpress? 
Yes, we are a full service graphic design studio and are happy to design anything from logos, to brochures, to business cards and anything else you may need. We do have relationships with digital printers for items of this nature.

I found a design that I love – can you recreate it for me? 
No, we do not copy other designer’s work. You can gladly purchase the design from that designer and we will print it for you though.

I like one of the designs in your portfolio but would like to change up the colors, fonts, or paper. Can you make those changes for me?
Some of the invitations in the portfolio have been custom designed for brides and some of them are totally up for grabs. So depending on the piece you like, we can make any alterations we need to, so you have your own invitation that you love just as much as they did!

I have a favorite image that I’d love to use. Can you incorporate it into my design?
Sure, if you send it over, we can let you know if it is possible to be printed via letterpress and how it could work into your design.

If I or my designer is sending the files for printing, what type of files would you like?
We prefer to work with PDFs but gladly accept illustrator, InDesign files as well. We are happy to work with you or your designer to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Can you do the design for my job or do you only work with other designers?
The pricing on our website does have an option for custom design, which will change based on how many pieces you need designed and what the details of your personal project are.

Can I adjust the wording on my invitation or reply card?
The wording on your invitation suite is entirely up to you! I am happy to help guide you to some sample wording or help you put together wording based on your level of formality and other details of your event. But ultimately, it is your invitation suite and you can have on it, anything you want!

If I have changes to my proofs, how does that work?
Two to three rounds of complimentary revisions can be made to correct any type changes. Design revisions may be subject to additional fees, calculated on an hourly basis at $75/hr. We require a written approval of every piece to send the job for printing.

How does the process for a custom design work? 
We start with a consultation to discuss the details of your project. Once we have the concept, style, and budget figured out we will send you an estimate for approval followed by a contract. With the signed contract and a 50% non-refundable deposit the design process begins. We will then send you design concepts based on our conversation and your decisions. Initial proofs will be sent within 10 business days. After you choose the design you like best, we include 3 rounds of editing with your package and any additional rounds can be done on an hourly basis for $75/hr. Once you have approved the, we will start the production and get your order shipped out as soon as the balance has been paid in full. Depending on the scope of your project, items will be shipped 3 to 6 weeks from final approval. For any wedding projects, we suggest that the process begin at least 4 months from the time you would like the invitations in your hands. This allows you plenty of time to stuff, address, stamp, and mail in accordance with your time table.