Poll: Letterpress Method

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Poll: Letterpress Method

1grifgon
apr 1, 2023, 1:59 am

Hi all! I've been tasked with collecting quotes from printers for The Tale of Sinuhe. As I begin to narrow the search for our printer, I'd like to take the members' temperature regarding the letterpress.

This edition will either be printed on a manual proof press or an automatic cylinder press. (In all likelihood, since we'll have it printed in the United States, on either a Vandercook or a Heidelberg.) As you can see from the linked videos, these presses are hugely different. The Vandercook is manually operated; the pressman handles by hand each sheet as it is fed through the press. The Heidelberg is manually set up, but then operates automatically; the sheets zip through the press quite rapidly. The Vandercook is a "proof press," originally manufactured to test galley proofs before commercial printing, or to print small jobs where setup of a larger commercial machine wouldn't be worthwhile. The Heidelberg is a commercial press, meant for large output. Both presses can and do produce excellent letterpress results. There can be substantial differences in outcome due to the differences between the presses, but they can also produce an identical result. It all depends on the operator.

As with many aspects of fine presswork, it is more expensive to do something by hand than with a machine, and whether the added expense is worth the handicraft depends on the collector. Vandercook printing is more expensive than Heidelberg printing.

If anybody has any questions about the differences, I'll do my best to answer them, but I'm primarily interested in a straw poll about what general direction my search should go.

Rösta: Would you want to pay roughly $ 100 more for your book to have it printed on a Vandercook rather than a Heidelberg?

Nuvarande ställning: Ja 12, Nej 39, Tvekar 5
This isn't an exact number, and please note that the question asks whether you would want to pay more for the Vandercook, not whether you would be willing to pay more.

Thanks!

2921Jack
apr 3, 2023, 5:56 pm

Is the plan to use photopolymer for the typesetting of the book?

3consensuspress
apr 4, 2023, 1:13 am

4filox
Redigerat: apr 4, 2023, 10:38 am

A more important consideration in my mind is how much additional time is spent printing on the Vandercook vs. Heidelberg. That is, how much would the edition be delayed is we went with the Vandercook?

5Glacierman
apr 4, 2023, 4:46 am

>4 filox: The Heidelberg is faster and I think you'll be surprised at the timeline....

>2 921Jack: One of the reasons for photopolymer is that the type being used, Golden Cockerel, is available in digital, but not metal.

6filox
apr 4, 2023, 10:38 am

>5 Glacierman: meant to say Vandercook, edited to fix.

7Glacierman
apr 4, 2023, 11:47 am

It would mean a significant delay, but I'm not the one to attempt a more specific estimate.

8gmacaree
apr 4, 2023, 2:06 pm

I voted no, mostly for reasons of speed. Am a little surprised to see it leading by so much.

9Shadekeep
apr 4, 2023, 3:07 pm

I'm one of the shilly-shallying undecideds, as I would ideally need to see the output of both in order to properly weigh an opinion. Thus I leave it up to those in the know.

10grifgon
apr 4, 2023, 5:46 pm

>4 filox: There isn't a substantial difference between them for a book of this length. A week, maybe.

>8 gmacaree: I'm also surprised! I think $100 is relatively cheap, given the handicraft involved. A Heidelberg spitfire prints sheets at over one per second, with no human hands (or eyes!) involved. A Vandercook requires the pressman to personally attend to each and every sheet, at a rate of maybe two or three per minute.

11Dr.Fiddy
apr 5, 2023, 6:57 am

>10 grifgon: I voted "yes", and given the insignificant time and $ difference, I'm also surprised to see that the handicraft involved using a Vandercook isn't valued higher...

12Glacierman
apr 5, 2023, 9:12 am

>11 Dr.Fiddy: $100 may be insignificant to some, but not to all. These things are relative.

13Dr.Fiddy
apr 5, 2023, 9:35 am

>12 Glacierman: I understand that things are relative, but we are talking about a new fine press making its first book, which will cost several hundred $. So, the $100 extra has to be seen relative to that; and as grifgon said: "$100 is relatively cheap, given the handicraft involved."

In an earlier poll, a (slight) majority of the group said they are willing to pay $500 - $1k for the first book. So, I was hoping we could make it a bit special, valuing the art and craft of fine book making instead of ending up with a stripped down version...

14Glacierman
apr 5, 2023, 10:06 am

>13 Dr.Fiddy: Stripped down? I hardly think that preferring a mechanized press over a hand-cranked press is "stripped down." And your comment implies that our printer does not "value the art and craft of fine book making," which is totally not true. In the hands of a master printer, as Griffin pointed out, both presses are capable of turning out fine work and we are blessed with having just such a one as our printer.

15EdmundRodriguez
apr 5, 2023, 10:10 am

I'd personally prefer to spend extra on materials (e.g. paper) rather than printing method (for example), particularly given Griffin's comment that the Heidelberg "can also produce an identical result" (I have faith that an excellent operator can be found!).

I think the expected range for this edition was $300-$600. Keeping it at the lower end might also help ensure a decent take-up from members.

16Dr.Fiddy
apr 5, 2023, 10:25 am

>14 Glacierman: My comment doesn't imply anything of the sort that you are implying. Using a Heidelberg does strip away a bit of the handicraft of making the book compared to using a Vandercook. I have said nothing about the presswork being less fine, so, please, do not imply anything that I have not said...

17Praveenna_Nagaratnam
apr 5, 2023, 10:33 am

18Shadekeep
apr 5, 2023, 10:37 am

I would just point out that, regardless of the press being used, the printing is being done by Max Koch, son of Peter Koch, and therefore very likely to be superb. I personally have a slight preference for the Vandercook just because it hews to the No Reply Press aesthetic of "printing without electricity", but it sounds like the results from the Heidelberg will be equally nice. And it will still be letterpress either way.

While I would be fine paying $100 extra for the Vandercook edition, I think a goodly portion of that is psychological rather than practical, and it sounds like I wouldn't be able to distinguish the final product from something made on a Heidelberg in actuality.

19Glacierman
apr 5, 2023, 11:09 am

>16 Dr.Fiddy: I read your words and I see something which apparently you do not see. However, I also see no point in continuing this further. You have stated your opinion. Let it go at that.

20Dr.Fiddy
apr 5, 2023, 11:22 am

>19 Glacierman: You obviously didn't read my words; I said nothing about, or implied nothing about, the printer. I only referred to the poll in this thread and what we as a group seem to value based on the poll. Anyway, agreed; let it go at that...

21jveezer
apr 5, 2023, 4:52 pm

OK...at that price I would pay another $100 for Vandercook, ha ha.

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