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Letterpress printing is a technique of relief printing for producing many copies by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface against individual sheets of paper or a continuous roll of paper. A worker composes and locks movable type into the "bed" or "chase" of a press, inks it, and presses paper against it to transfer the ink from the type, which creates an impression on the paper.
In practice, letterpress also includes wood engravings; photo-etched zinc plates ("cuts"); linoleum blocks, which can be used alongside metal type; wood type in a single operation; stereotypes; and electrotypes of type and blocks. With certain letterpress units, it is also possible to join movable type with slugs cast using hot metal typesetting. In theory, anything that is "type high" (i.e. it forms a layer exactly 0.918 inches thick between the bed and the paper) can be printed using letterpress.
Letterpress printing was the normal form of printing text from its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century through the 19th century, and remained in wide use for books and other uses until the second half of the 20th century. The development of offset printing in the early 20th century gradually supplanted its role in printing books and newspapers. More recently, letterpress printing has seen a revival in an artisanal form.