what do you mean by “letterpress”?
Kelsey Press
A close-up of our press in action.

We operate a table-top-sized press: a Kelsey Excelsior, with a 5″ x 8″ chase (which defines the press’ printing area), built in 1951. This press was produced from 1875 until 1975, with very few changes.

We have a collection of metal type and printer’s ornaments, which we set by hand. The type is inked by the press’ rollers, and the paper is literally pressed on to the inked type. Hence, “letterpress”!

Occasionally we will set type digitally, and use this to etch a copper or brass plate. This can then be locked into the press’ chase and used for printing in the same way as movable type.

how deep an impression does your press make?
Movable type
A block of movable type, and what it creates.
Movable type
A greeting card cut, over 120 years old.

It depends on what we are using in printing. All letterpress printing has something of an impression, or bite. However, the recent fad for a very deep bite has become a source of great controversy in the letterpress community.

Traditionally, type was cast using an alloy containing lead, antimony, and tin. This resulted in type which matched almost perfectly with the type designer’s original pattern, or matrix; however, this alloy is fairly soft. Therefore, using vintage type to make a deep impression will wear it out quickly and, in view of the limited amount of this type available, is the height of irresponsibility.

Additionally, certain presses are capable of a deep bite, but others are not. Our Kelsey is a platen press: with each impression, the plate holding the paper swings up to meet the type. This is a very effective way of printing, but the mechanics of the press itself are such that it cannot stand the 400-600 psi required for a deep impression. If we tried, sooner or later it would break.

All this being said, our press still leaves a noticeable impression, just not a hugely deep one.

what do you mean by “guaranteed fountain pen friendly”?

We have been using, repairing, and selling fountain pens for years (you can see the other hat we wear at: http://www.restorersart.com) One issue that fountain pen users constantly face is the search for paper suitable for use with their pens. Many modern papers are designed for use with ball-point pens. The ink used in fountain pens is far thinner, and will often “bleed”, or “feather” into the surrounding paper. Additionally, some fountain pens—known as“wet noodles”—have a much higher ink flow than others, sometimes resulting in saturation of lower-quality papers.

Paper Testing
A Waterman 52, from the 1930s, is the ultimate test of a paper.
Paper Testing - Lettra Close-up
A Lettra close-up: wet line on the top, fine on the bottom.
Paper Testing - Strathmore Close-up
In contrast, a Strathmore close-up.
Paper Testing - A Wet Strathmore Close-up
Even the wettest line is quite clean on Strathmore.

To further complicate matters, letterpress simply does not suit all papers. Type impression is lost on coated and glossy papers. However, the thick, soft papers that do suit letterpress are often the worst culprits for absorbing fountain pen ink.

We test a number of high-quality papers, using a variety of pens and inks. At one end of the spectrum is a Parker 51 with a 0.45mm “accountant” nib, which lays down a very fine, dry line. At the other is a Waterman 52, with an extremely flexible nib, called by some a ‘fire hose’ because of the amount of ink it can leave as it writes.

Our ink of choice for testing is a J. Herbin. This ink is of the highest quality, from a manufacturer which has been making ink in France for over three centuries. Known as an ink with a higher flow rate, it is perfect for testing the ‘creep’, or ‘bleed’ tendency in paper.

Using magnification is a great help. What initially presents itself as a sloppy appearance is shown for what it really is: ink creeping out along individual paper fibres. A number of factors involved in paper manufacture can have a bearing on this effect, and it is very difficult to know which papers will do it, and which will not.

We have searched out, and ink-tested, the paper that is best-suited for use with both letterpress and fountain pens. We use Strathmore 110# “writing wove” cover stock for our cards. This paper strikes a balance between the soft, textured look that suits letterpress, and your need for the best vehicle for a wide variety of inks. As well, we augment this with an undetectable surface treatment, which will withstand even the wettest fountain pen line.

With any of our products, you can pull out your favorite pen with confidence. Should you be dissatisfied for any reason, simply return your card, and we will happily issue a full refund.

what does “sevanti” mean?
Sevanti is a Hindi word for chrysanthemum. Hindi is the fifth largest spoken language in the world, used by over 200 million people in India, some of whom are our very distant relatives.
who, and where, are you?
We are a small, family-operated, letterpress operating in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Our products are available at select shops and events.
how do you ship a package of cards? how fast will my order come?
We ship by Canada Post, regular mail. This results in fast, inexpensive service (your package will likely reach you within a week in North America, or two weeks overseas). If you would like the option of a trackable package, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to send you a quote for postage, at cost.
i live across the world from you. will postage be higher for me?
A package of cards is quite light, and small in volume. Our low shipping rates are the same for any location, worldwide. (Yes, even Australia.)