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Clinging to The Past Proudly: The Community of Briar Press

Briar Press is a community of letterpress printers, book artists, and press enthusiasts. The website is dedicated to the preservation of letterpress-era equipment and the art of fine printing.

Since its inception in 1994, Briar Press has been operated by the mother-son team of Elizabeth and Eric C Nevin. Eric designs and produces the site when his schedule permits. Elizabeth directs daily operations and responds to correspondence. The site is named for Elizabeth’s private press, The Briar Press, established in 1973.

Over the years, many contributors have helped the site grow.

• Elizabeth Harris, former Curator of Graphic Arts in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. Her primary research has concerned wooden and iron printing presses of the 18th and 19th centuries.

• Dave Norton, author, collector, teacher. His collection includes 650 fonts of metal, 100 of wood, several hundred pounds of ornaments and borders, and “the usual” shop equipment.

• Stephen O. Saxe, a leading historian of 19th-century printing. His collection of foundry specimen books is one of the largest private collections in the United States.

• Alex Reisner, technical advisor and engineer. With his help, and that of the community, Briar Press moved to the Drupal publishing platform in 2006.

The site features:
• 56,920 members
• 207 printing presses
• 747 vector ornaments
• 2,849 classified ads
• 1,223 letterpress listings
• 3,013 press names
• 5,042 discussions

If you would like to see great photos of vintage and antique printing equipment, the site offers the following:
• Wooden hand presses (5)
• Iron hand presses (19)
• Platen jobbers (39)
• Lever presses (80)
• Galley proof presses (10)
• Rail presses (14)
• Copy presses (13)
• Shop equipment (14)
• Other equipment (13)

A large collection of scanned ornaments and initials from old specimen books which have been converted into vector line art are available to use them in your print or digital work, even on your letterpress:
• Printing & books (37)
• Birds & beasts (87)
• Ends & ornaments (59)
• Flowers & plants (62)
• Frames & borders (122)
• Initial caps (191)
• Mortised (50)
• Objects & symbols (49)
• People (90)

Browse by price
• Free downloads (667)
• Ornaments for sale (80)

An active classified advertising section is on the site and offers equipment for sale or trade, wanted items, classes, seminars, job opportunities and much more that relates to the community of letterpress enthusiasts. There is also a “yellow pages” style directory and an International Registry of Private Presses.

It’s FREE to join and a great source of support and inspiration for anyone interested in the craft and in connecting with others in the community.

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