Which book should I buy?

Hello everyone!

I have just been given this press -http://www.briarpress.org/12729

I am currently waiting for it to be delivered. I don’t have any experience with letterpress apart from some limited experience with an Adana 8 x 5.

Could someone please kindly recommend a book to me that I could learn from? Can I use any letterpress book/ manual or is there a book that would be more useful when learning about this particular machine?

Kind regards,


Log in to reply   6 replies so far

Have you thought about taking a course or doing some kind of training with someone in the UK? If I’m not mistaken St Bride’s in London do some workshops.

I cant help with pointing you at places in particular because i not good with computors , however if you spend an hour googling letterpress uk printing letterpress uk and letterpress training there are dozens of places to go look and learn in the uk some may be better than others but all knowledge is good . we are a small country and you can travel from tip to tip in one day so really there is a wide range of choice from cornish to scottish !!!

There are two books I would go for. The first is expensive-
“Platen Press Operation” by George J Mills, because its currently not in print, but very usable is “Elermentary Platen Presswork” by Ralph W. Polk. Both very handy indeed. My other classics I refer to are Printing Design and Layout ( any 40’s, 50’s ) and introduction To Typography Oliver Simon, and anything by Polk! It looks a great press.
Dennis Wild

As a beginner 50 years ago, I self-taught myself by reading a couple simple books I had borrowed from the local library:

General Printing by Cleeton, Pitkin & Cornwell, and
Printing for Pleasure by John Ryder.

The Polk & Mills books are better texts as relates to presswork, in my estimation, but the two mentioned above cover all aspects of simple production.

Some combination of reading and visiting an active letterpress printer will provide you with ample knowledge in operation and makeready.

Hey everyone!

Sorry for the late reply. Thank you all for your advice. I have looked at all the books recommended except the one that is out of print. They look great :)

I am considering doing a course here in Ireland but I think they might be very basic. Am currently looking for an active letterpress printer and I have a good lead. I’m also go to put an ad in the paper.

Jhenry I hadn’t thought of looking in the library. That’s on my to do list now.

I’m planning on using photopolymer plates for my press so do you all think it would be a waste of time to learn about setting type for the moment. I do want to learn about it eventually but right now I want to get started as quickly as possible so is it advisable to focus on just photopolymer for the moment?

Thank you everyone :)


I am a little late to the conversation but there is an excellent online repository of scanned books, films, and recordings here:

Many of the books in the archive date back as far as the early 1800’s. Anyway if you use search terms such as “general printing, or letterpress, or chandler & price, etc.” you will get an amazing selection of out of print books, manuals, and sometimes even blueprints (got some for replacement parts for the C&P old series). S

Some of the books titles mentioned above are in there all with hundreds of others