The work of amateurs

Amateur Printing: A Journal and Specimen Exchange was an amateur printing publication born when hobby printing was at its peak in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The introduction of table-top vertical platen presses such as the ‘Model’ in the mid-1870s opened up the letterpress printing process to almost everyone and, by 1895, these presses were popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

Many of the contributors to the Amateur Printing Journal were vicars and priests. Each page was produced by a different amateur printer, resulting in different typefaces throughout the publication, with the inevitability that some editions had a more professional appearance than others. The first issue (below) was printed in June 1895, and the publication ran for 18 years, until 1913.

Amateur printing2

Writer Virginia Woolf was among the amateur print hobbyists of the time, self-publishing a few short stories – including ‘The Mark on the Wall’ and ‘Kew Gardens’ – with a small hand-printing press she owned. She and husband her Leonard later went on to found the Hogarth Press.

While the publication no longer exists, amateur printing using letterpress continues to thrive as a medium, and co-operative publications similar to Amateur Printing still exist today.

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