Brand of the Day: Field Notes Celebrates Letterpress

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Field Notes has always thrived on the utilitarian—yes, the signature books look damn cool and the brand and its gregarious maestro Aaron Draplin are always popping up in most excellent ways at industry events, but at the end of the day, Field Notes are simply about durable scratch books that are there when you need them.

Still, a little sheen never hurt anyone—and their limited-edition offerings have always been a delight. That is true more than ever this week with the release of the United States of Letterpress series. The partnership, with nine independent letterpress shops across the country, feels like a natural one. Given that it’s Field Notes, these are not editions reprinting letterpress designs, but the real deal: With the help of Finch Paper and the French Paper Company, Field Notes shipped the letterpress shops different-colored cover stocks, specified the use of Rubine Red and Process Blue, and turned the presses loose.

Rick Griffith, Starshaped Press, Erin Beckloff

As the brand writes, “The results are as varied and thoughtful as the participants involved. Continuing a tradition embossed into the history of American letterpress printing, the layouts, themes and messages are highly personal statements about heritage, geography, tradition and social issues, and they also demonstrate the diversity and strength of today’s letterpress community.”

As for those participants, the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum helped Field Notes pull together a list highlighting some of the best minds working the presses today:

Skylab Letterpress printed each book’s flyleaf—which includes a reproduced border from Bay Psalms Book (1640), “thought to be the very first book printed in the American colonies.” Additional printing was done by Thomas Printers, Skylab Letterpress and Lake County Press.

All told, This project was produced through the craft and creativity of 12 printers around the country, with the help, gumption and know-how of countless others, passed down by job-printers, collectors and hobbyists over the last several centuries.”

Find out more about the production, and pick up a pack—and a Field Notes T-shirt celebrating letterpress—here. And for a mini documentary about the shops featured, stay tuned below.

Here's a closer look at the books.

Full-Circle Press, Genghis Kern (1 of 2), Mama's Sauce (1 of 2)

Springtide Press (1 of 2), Brad Vetter (1 of 2), Ben Blount (1 of 2)

Rick Griffith (1 of 2), Erin Beckloff (1 of 2), Starshaped Press