Upside Down, Left To Right: A Letterpress Film

Today’s post is short and sweet.  A quick reminder as to just how far we have come.  This video is a peek into the now ancient world of movable type.

Upside Down, Left To Right” by Danny Cooke is a fascinating short documentary about letterpress printing. The film focuses on the Plymouth University letterpress, one of the few remaining movable type print workshops in the UK


2 thoughts on “Upside Down, Left To Right: A Letterpress Film

  1. I got interested in printing at an early age, and at 9, in 1951, I was given a Superior Star rubber-type press and learned to read right to left, or left to right and upside down. In high school I worked on the school newspaper, printed on a flatbed press in a shop over a Chinese laundry, and learned the California Job Case in the process of setting heads. (I’d had my own Superior job case, but it was alphabetical.) I saw Linotype operations and stereotype casting at the local weekly newspaper, where I also worked as a photographer. After college graduation I was hired in 1967 to teach for a couple years; one small course I taught was typography and layout. The text I used was “Ink on Paper.” In 1969 I joined the copy desk of a daily newspaper, still, of course, in the days of hot metal type, metal engravings, and stereotype plates. Working with the human printers I used upside-down reading skill on deadline to trim stories that didn’t fit. We adopted computer editing in 1976 and computer page layout in 1981; I was one of the first trained to do it. In 1986 my wife and I bought a Macintosh and LaserWriter and started a desktop-publishing business. Our daughters loved to create documents with those tools. I told them, somewhat wistfully, “You’ll never know what it’s like to run out of E’s.”

    1. Glad this video could hit home for you! It really helped me understand what a change has happened in the last 50 (or so) years. I learned to strip and set film in college, and while a great platform for learning it was quickly irrelevant by the time I hit the workforce.
      I still have a fully working Superior Star rubber press at home. Hopefully my kids will one day enjoy it as much as I do. And if not, I can at least pass on the backbreaking knowledge of “Upside down, and left to right”. Thanks for sharing Richard! You ever want to write a blog post you let us know!

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