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Printing Letterpress from Stereo Plates

Started by Dave Hughes, November 11, 2013, 01:17:08 PM

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Dave Hughes

UPDATE: Greetings cards made from these plates are now on sale at Metal Type Printing. Worldwide shipping, buy a pack of five and get the sixth free.

I recently bought a box full of "motoring related printing plates" from an auction. They turned out to be a box full of stereo plates of Vauxhall car press adverts dating from the mid 1960s.

Here's a quick video run-through of me getting them ready to print from on my Adana 8 X 5.

Letterpress Printing from Stereo Plates

I am planning on producing greetings cards from the plates, for sale, when completed, at Metal Type Printing.

If you would like to receive an email when the first Vintage Vauxhall greetings cards are available for sale, and details of special offers, etc. join the Metal Type Printing Mailing List.

A collection of c1965 stereo plates of Vauxhall car newspaper advertisements

In the pre-digital age if a company like Vauxhall wanted a typographical consistency for their press advertisements the only practical solution was to set the adverts themselves, using the required typefaces. They would then make a cardboard mould or "flong" by pressing soft cardboard onto the type. A plate would then be made from the mould that incorporated the borders, illustrations, and wording. This method ensured that the various regional or national newspapers where the adverts were to appear could not make font substitutions, use the wrong illustration, etc.
Cleaning in progress, using 3-parts vinegar to one part lemon juice

The metal used for stereo plates is quite a brittle lead alloy. The ones that I bought seemed to have accumulated a fair amount of surface rust.
To remove the rust I soaked the plates in a solution of three parts vinegar to one part lemon juice for about an hour, the rust then brushed off quite easily. Remember to remove the rust off the back of the plates as well, it will help the plate stick to the base.

Chase with low mount, galley with cleaned plates and some "carpet tape.

"The plates are approximately a pica thick, in order to make them type high, and get them on the press I ordered some "low mount" from Andy Taylor at the Elrod Press. This came in mainly 36pt strips, and Andy very kindly cut them to fit my Adana 8X5 chase. I used double sided "carpet tape" to attach the plates to the base.
Once the plates have been positioned on the mount, slacken the quoins a little and plane with a flat wooden object, then tighten the quoins up again.

Place the forme on your press and print in the usual way.

Please feel free to post any questions, comments, etc. There is no need to register to post on this board
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