The relief process known as Letterpress was the primary method used to print text throughout the 19th century and halfway through the 20th. Traditionally text had been printed by cutting whole lines into a single block of wood until it evolved into a method where individual letters were carved or cast in metal. These small pieces of type could be neatly aligned in a chase and locked together into frames to print entire pages at a time and then filed away for reuse. Wood engravings and later line blocks illustrations could also be placed in a chase alongside type, a process that became known as xylography in the 1840’s. With the invention of the linotype machine in 1892 whole lines of reusable cast text that was easy to produce replaced single letters. This process was extensively used to print the backside of postcards but it was also employed to overprint more legible text, such as titles directly onto a cardŐs image. Prints created by this process are characterized by the same solid tones found in traditional woodblock printing that creating a slight embossing that can even be noticeable on heavy card stock. After offset lithography became a viable commercial process it largely replaced letterpress printing during the 1960’s.

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Relief Techniques 2

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