Helping Aussie Authors To Take On The World
Free Call 03 9830 6619

The Romance of Letterpress

(5 customer reviews)

Original price was: $79.95.Current price is: $64.95.


From Gutenberg’s invention in 1455 to Australia and America in the 1910s, the printing industry was essentially the same. Type was metal or wood, assembled into pages and printed with letterpress. Printing skillsets were the same no matter what the language or geographic location.

Thus, it was possible for a young man from Australia to make the trek to America just after the first decade of the 20th Century and work his way across the country. He could find work at the many weekly newspapers, small printers, or other print shops in towns and cities big and small…Frank Romano (Professor Emeritus, Rochester Institute of Technology: President, Museum of Printing, Massachusetts, USA)

Click here for eBook

Always in stock. “Printed On Demand” in Australia by Intertype

SKU: Book0320 Categories: , Tags: , , , , , Product ID: 3164


The Romance of Letterpress gives an account of life in Australia and America within the Printing Industry at the turn of the 20th Century.

This is the story of Wal Cryer, a freshly-minted letterpress printer from Sydney.

In November 1913, at the tender age of 21, he packed his bags and jumped on board a steamer to try his luck working his way across America as a printer.

The Romance of Letterpress is a story about what society looked like at that time: that uniquely fragile era just before the Great War, which hovered tentatively on the brink of modernity, when, if you ventured out onto the road you could be trampled to death by a horse, or run over by a car.

It is also a story with a romantic undercurrent, as he left behind a fiancé in Sydney, to whom he sent a veritable treasure-trove of postcards as he wended his way across the Mid-west, facing both unemployment queues and tough bosses – and getting work in Chicago before heading to New York and then via several ships back to Australia when the war broke out.

(There is also the mysterious “L” which we will touch upon, ever so discreetly.)

It is, therefore, the story of a collision of two cultures (America’s and Australia’s), which could not have been more different and which still are today!

Finally, The Romance of Letterpress is a story of how printing at that time was beginning to penetrate into the nooks and crannies of people’s everyday lives, in ways both amusing and pervasive, that we now take for granted today.

None of this would have been brought to light, however, if it wasn’t for a remarkable discovery – not only the diary itself, tucked away in a long-forgotten cupboard, but also a much-battered album bulging with post-cards. This then is a look down a time-tunnel, 1914 under a microscope!

There is, however, yet another deeper theme underpinning all this – what is the nature of the relationship we have with our grandparents?

Interested in the history of printing in Australia? Visit The Penrith Museum of Printing

Always in stock. “Printed On Demand” in Australia by Intertype

When James Cryer discovered his grandfather’s handwritten journal he had no idea he had a historical record of the printing industry in his hands. Learn about life in print in the early 1900’s, how postcards transformed the industry, and more through this incredible first-hand account that spans 2 continents.

As Andy McCourt, Australia’s leading print industry commentator wrote: 

With ink flowing through his veins, James Cryer has produced a book that is not just a record of how the printing industry was pre-WW1, but an important historical document of life, travel, societies and adventure in a bygone era.
It’s a delight to read, look at and hold. Walter J (Wal) Cryer’s narrative, immortalised in his diary, was discovered by good fortune, is engaging and informs us how a young Australian viewed working life – and the world – in 1913.
We wholeheartedly endorse James Cryer’s ‘magnum opus’ – it represents far more than a walk down memory lane for Letterpress – it’s a historical tapestry, pre-TV, pre-commercial radio, pre-internet, pre-jet travel; woven into a beautifully designed book (Roger Cole, designer and typographer), excellently printed using the latest digital technology (Fuji-Xerox Iridesse at Intertype, Melbourne), includes a Letterpress-printed ‘Ex-Libris’ card (by Watermarx).

5 reviews for The Romance of Letterpress

  1. ‘WS” Sydney

    Good afternoon James,

    Thank you for your book. I have read it from cover to cover. What a great production.
    Your Grandfather would be immensely proud of you, that his grandson saw fit to bring to life his interesting investigative journey to the USA.
    Your family and your relatives I am sure are also proud of your efforts to capture an important piece of family history in print.
    I certainly appreciate the mammoth task involved.
    Congratulations again….’WS” Sydney

  2. Peter

    The Romance of Letterpress…what indeed a book – one I shall take time out to scrupulously read…after ALL [big confession of mine] I am a Diarist of longstanding– since 1st January, 1964. Hey!

    Thank You for same, The Romance of Letterpress is a book I will add to my prestigious collection and never part with. The message with your autograph and the embossed ex libris is both sincere and heartfelt – therefore valued, as well.

    Oh, never forget that for many years I was a Print Broker and the printing industry, as a whole, is part of me…Peter

  3. Desmond Haynes

    I’ve just finished your book and I felt that I had to write to offer my warmest congratulations on a job well done!

    When I began to read the book I expected to be interested and wasn’t disappointed but the bonus was that I was thoroughly entertained!

    James, I can only guess at the number of hours you spent in research to assemble this history but you have done a sterling job in this work to bring it to life. WJC2 would I am sure be very pleased and proud of his grandson.

    Finally, the quality of the design and presentation is of the highest standard.

    James, be proud of this wonderful work – it does you great credit…Desmond Hayes

  4. Doug Alexander

    James, I must take this opportunity to congratulate you on your most impressive and informative recent publication “The Romance of Letterpress” I have been most generously presented a copy of your publication by none other than my erstwhile highly respected Business Partner and fellow member of The Old Friends Society, Neil Mulveney.

    Though I have just started reading your book, I cannot help but draw some uncannily similar memories of my own life.
    Like you, I never met my Grandfather. As one who commenced my apprenticeship at age 15 as a Compositor in Melbourne back in 1956, I can relate fondly to much you write of the wonderful Craft of Letterpress Printing.

    Again my congratulations on a truly wonderful, nostalgic look back at what was a Golden Era of the Craft of Print…Doug Alexander, Offset Alpine

  5. Andy McCourt

    The Romance of Letterpress is an enchanting and beautifully crafted book that celebrates the artistry and nostalgia of letterpress printing. As a reader, I found myself immersed in the rich history and intricate techniques of this timeless craft, and I was captivated from start to finish.

    One of the book’s greatest strengths lies in its ability to transport readers into the world of letterpress printing. The author’s deep passion for the subject shines through every page, and their meticulous attention to detail is evident in the vivid descriptions and stunning visuals. From the elegant typography to the delicate interplay of ink and paper, each aspect of letterpress printing is explored with reverence and an authentic sense of wonder.

    Furthermore, “The Romance of Letterpress” goes beyond the technical aspects of the craft and delves into the emotional and artistic dimensions that make letterpress so unique. The author skillfully highlights the tactile experience and the profound connection that is forged between the artisan, the machinery, and the printed piece. This exploration of the human element adds depth to the book and elevates it beyond a mere instructional guide.

    Another commendable aspect of this book is its accessibility. While the subject matter can be intricate and complex, the author strikes a balance between providing a comprehensive overview and ensuring that readers of all backgrounds can engage with the content. Whether you are a seasoned letterpress enthusiast or a curious newcomer, the book manages to educate, inspire, and entertain in equal measure.

    If there is one aspect that could be improved, it is the inclusion of more personal anecdotes and stories. While the book provides a wealth of technical knowledge and historical context, I believe that the addition of personal narratives from artisans and printers would have further enriched the reading experience. These firsthand accounts could have deepened the emotional connection with the craft and added a layer of intimacy to the book.

    In conclusion, “The Romance of Letterpress” is an exceptional tribute to the art of letterpress printing. Its engaging narrative, meticulous attention to detail, and celebration of the human touch make it a must-read for anyone interested in the history, craftsmanship, and enduring allure of this beloved printing technique. I highly recommend this book to letterpress enthusiasts, designers, and anyone seeking to be inspired by the marriage of art and technology…Andy McCourt

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like…