printing Romans

Good afternoon! I’m excited to be traveling tomorrow to pick up my first letterpress. The shop has several, though most likely a Pilot-clone will be my huckleberry.
The major impetus for this venture is a project I’d love to complete for a friend, printing the book of Romans from the Bible. If I can complete this in my lifetime, I will be pleased, though I am not at all clear on what a reasonable type/sorts(?) quantity would be. Would photopolymer plates be more efficient or exhorbitantly expensive? Would the repeated use be ok on my type or would I need to go into the whole ‘making your own type’ saga? What about paper; any particular materials or thicknesses I should use or avoid?
One of the aspects of the project that appeals to me is to see the printing skill grow as the book progresses (a kind of poetic parallel to spiritual growth, if you will). For this reason, I really am set on starting out with this endeavor (aside from a few practice runs to figure out which end is up - ha). So, apart from recommending I practice for years and years first or something like that, any advice or guidance would be most welcome!

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Tia….. what a GREAT undertaking! In my own shop. I’ve done several of the Gospels and other Holy-books in hand-bound editions. It is not easy, but it is very rewarding.

I did all of my Gospels using hand-set lead type. This is not the fastest way, but it is the least expensive in the long run IF you don’t count your own labor as an expense. (please note that “IF”… it’s important!) I did mine with hand-set for personal/ aesthetic/spiritual reasons….. the act of setting the type was integral to my goals. Also, I wanted the finished look that only hand-set can achieve.

BUT If you want to go fast, then PP plates are the only way to go. If you assume that your own labor is worth at least minimum wage, then PP plates are far less expensive.

As far as paper goes, that is a stylistic decision that only you can make. However, no matter what you use it should be of the finest quality you can afford. That means Acid-Free, Archival Quality, and probably 100% rag content. It may seem like a lot of money, but the end result will be well worth it. An undertaking like this may take several years and thousands of hours. It only makes good sense to use paper that will last for hundreds of years.

As far as making your own type goes, I would not recommend it. I’ve got a hand-mold and lots of mats… and can tell you from experience that making enough type to do the book of Romans would take a looong loooong time.

The last thing I’d like to recommend is that you illuminate your Romans with some sort of engraving, woodcut, or other sort of illustration. A few woodcuts really make a book like that stand out……

Good Luck!

You’ve set yourself up for a steep learning curve while trying to complete an ambitious project. I’d look for ways to simplify a bit

Having it set in photopolymer is one possible simplification, but I’ve heard enough complaints of small presses and photopolymer to think that lead type might be less diffficult.

You could have the type set by a Monotype founder, such as the Bixlers in NY. With maybe a font of sorts to use in correcting any errors, etc. This wouldn’t be cheap, but it would make it easier than hand setting. And I don’t expect it would be much more expensive than photopolymer, if any.

You wouldn’t have to accept the Monotype spacing. I know of at least one printer who does this and discards all the Monotype spacing and replaces it with standard spacing (by running the type through the composing stick) for a more traditional look to the page. This would still be easier as the words would all be set.

And afterword, when your printing project is done, you end up with a really nice font of lightly used text face type in the cases. After distributing it you’d know the case well and be ready to try hand-setting the next project.

thank you both so very much for sharing your experience and advice. winking cat, can you tell me a good source for the paper of which you speak? would soy-based ink do the project justice? also, do you have a favorite resource i might find to learn more about illuminating letters?

this will be an adventure, for sure!