Dedicated to preserving early American made rare and antique letterpress printer's blocks.



What is a Print Block?

Prior to the Digital Age, newspapers, books, posters, tickets, forms, and all other types of printed-paper were produced with a Printing Press. To form the words, movable type was used and print blocks would be used along side to add images or decorations around the text. A print block is also known as a letterpress cut or a printing die.

Movable type (type) is a set of individual letter blocks that can be moved to any location, to spell out any words.

Newspaper Movable Type Print Blocks

Picture reversed for legibility

Inserting a print block along side the type would have produced any graphics, images or pictures. The type and print blocks are set into a frame, known as a chase. Ink is rolled over the surface of the type and blocks with a roller, known as a brayer. The paper is then pressed onto the inked surface. The process was done on a Printing Press. These were manually operated in the early days until automation replaced the manual models. This would create the printed document.

This process was also known as relief printing. Which is a process consisting of cutting or etching a printing surface in such a way that all that remains of the original surface is the design to be printed. Examples of relief-printing processes include woodcut, relief etching, linocut, and metal cut.

In contrast to the above method is a process known as intaglio printing, pronounced in-tal-yo. Using this process, the areas to print are recessed. Ink is applied to the surface and recessed areas. The ink is then wiped away from the surface prior to printing. The paper will pull the ink from the recessed areas to create the printed image.

Gutenberg, Faust (Fust), Schoeffer (Schoffer), the forefathers of Western Letterpress Printing. Although Guttenberg is spelled with two letter "T" on this antique printers block, Historical information shows the spelling with one letter "T".

Gutenberg Fust Schoeffer Antique Letterpress Printing Block

19th century print block manufactured by the L. Johnson Type Foundry, Philadelphia 1843 - 1860. Upon the passing of Lawrence Johnson in 1860, the foundry was succeeded by MacKeller Smiths and Jordan. They continued to operate under MacKeller Smiths and Jordan Type Foundy until 1892, when they were aquired by American Type Founders.

The birth of letterpress printing in Europe came in the 15th century. Although printing with wood blocks has deeper roots in the Far East, Johannes Gutenberg developed reusable movable type, the basic principle that was used well into the 20th century.

Four Important Revolutions in Type Technology

1450 - 1480 = Gutenberg and the Impact of Printing

1870/95 - 1950/65 = Industrial Revolution - Steam, Line-Casting and Automated Punch Cutting

1950/60 - 1975/85 = Photocomposition, Intertype

1973/83 = Digital


Republican Eagle Vote Printing Block Democratic Rooster Vote Printing Block
Two fine examples of early letterpress printing blocks used to create Democratic and Republican Voting Tickets and/or vintage newspaper advertisements.



Please visit our History page for more information on the printing process as well as specific print block types. Our Links page offers many additional resources for detailed information on the Letterpress printing art form.

Liberty Coin Face Antique Letterpress Printers Foundry Type Block

Printers type block manufactured by Hansen Type Foundry 1872 - 1922.

About Our Print Blocks


We specialize in scarce and unique antique letterpress printers blocks, printers dies, and wood type blocks. With an emphasis on graphic cuts as opposed to wood type fonts and other. We are here to answer any questions you may have about our products or our services.

Photograph galleries will be maintained with unique antique graphic blocks. Whether you are here to just browse or in need an unusual collectors piece, we welcome everyone.

We have printer's blocks for sale in all price ranges and have provided specific categories for browsing. You may use the search function within the Museum and Store to find items by keyword.

Approximate measurements are listed in both pica and inches. Items on the gallery pages will be added to the Store section and will be available for purchase. We reserve the right to display the images indefinitely. Please visit our History and Links pages for in-depth information and resources.

Store inventory includes antique wood type cuts, copper and zinc face blocks and foundry cast alloy printers type blocks. Our printers blocks are USA "type high" or approximately .918" tall.


All of our printers blocks are guaranteed to be authentic antique advertisement memorabilia used in the Letterpress printing industries throughout the 19th and early 20th century. We will have early American foundry cuts of all types in all categories, many identified as being manufactured by one of the important early American type foundries. We will always note if the specific block has a foundry identification and/or PIN Mark.


American National Anthem Printers Block

Within the store categories you may find all types of vintage letterpress printing blocks including:


Hand Carved Wood Engravings

Line Cuts

Stereotype

Electrotype

Halftone Blocks

Foundry Type Blocks

All of these block "types" may be found within any specific category.


The majority of our blocks would have been manufactured during the Industrial Revolution, some of our cuts will date back to the early 19th century.


Please also visit our Museum page. We host a large number of rare and hard-to-find cuts as well as one-of-a-kind hand-carved woodcuts. The hand-carved woodcuts are true Folk Art memorabilia at it's finest!


Antique Printer's Blocks is an Upfront Merchant on TheFind. Click for info.