About hooksmith

I am a Letterpress printer who uses traditional wood and metal type. www.hooksmith.com

Letterpress centrefold


Glad to have collaborated with Jake Green for MVP magazine; gave me a chance to dig out the 50’s basketball block I got a year or two back. Go get it kids.


The Wipers Times


Glad to see BBC2 is showing a drama based on the story of The Wipers Times.

For those who haven’t heard about it – it was a trench-based newspaper, started after a couple of infantry soldiers found a treddle-platten in war-torn Ypres. Go check it out (or “The Best Bits” book, from Ian Hislop and Malcolm Brown) – dark humour that’s exceptionally funny.


The ability of the printing press to bring some happiness to people in such dire circumstances, almost brings a tear to the eye. A friend told me a similar, but more recent story; during the Sri-lankan civil war, the northern town of Jaffna was cut off by the government.. but a local paper (Uthayan) was able to continue by rediscovering letterpress printing and get information to its readership, in a country synonymous with state-censorship and misinformation.

The above work, uses Stephenson Blake 10 line Johnston woodtype circa 1916 (as used on the tube); in honour of underground presses!

I’m NFN (Normal for Norfolk)

Great great grand-daddy Platford: ploughman and horse-doctor

Great great grand-daddy Platford: ploughman and horse-doctor

Managed to get up to Norfolk, last week, where apparently a fair few of my genes are from. The pictures of John Platford, an ancestor who worked on the Holkham estate in the north of the county. Its a lovely bit of the world and they have a little museum on the estate, but I felt a bit irked at helping support the aristos (who still live there) by buying their beers and scones.

More my thing was the wonderful Jarrold printing museum, where volunteers staff what was once a huge working press by the river Wensum.


They have an amazing array of letterpress and litho presses; and had the foresight to start the museum up in the 1980’s.

Sadly I only had a couple of days to look around- didn’t even get to see the broads, or even find out if theres any fishing up there. Will definitely be back.

Homage to the HoP

A long search for chromatic woodtype came up trumps, with several new founts acquired this week.

Give Me Hops celebrates this wonderful herbaceous perennial and the upsurge in independent craft brewers creating hoppy IPA’s and Stouts.

The word HOPS was printed with shaded type, chosen as its ornamentation beers an uncanny resemblance to hop cone scales and the young leaves of the plant.


There is no makers name on this Victorian 30-Line shaded type, though it is likely to be UK made – Ideas anyone?

Shaded Wood Type

Registering the second colour went fairly well though there was some variation due to the handmade nature and age of the type, as well as the intricacies of hand feeding for second passing on the press – though imperfection is good right?

Hooksmith Press London

Cheers and Good Health!


Antipodes Antipodes 2

Walk this way

Here’s one straight from the press; directionally accurate to within 6 Pica when hung vertically anywhere in the world.  No calibration required.

For those who don’t know, the antipodes of where you are, is the exact opposite of where you are – on the other side of the globe (if that makes any sense?).

In New Zealand, however, if you mention the Antipodes, people tend to think of a distant off-shore group of inhospitable volcanic islands to the south of NZ (They lie 860 kilometres to the southeast of Stewart Island/Rakiura). The islands are home to amazing mega herbs and a ground-dwelling parakeet (among an amazing array of flora and fauna).

Interestingly, here in London, we are roughly antipodal to The Antipodes, but the term more frequently refers to both New Zealand and Australia. I quite like being called an antipodean, gives a touch of Ol’ world glamour…

For those interested, this lovely old copper-topped arrow is printed alongside a worn Day and Collins ‘Caxton #6’ wooden font; inked with a shaded 2-colour affect inspired by the colour of the Antipodes Island parakeet (Cyanoramphus unicolor)!