The Counter Press is the east London letterpress studio of graphic designers David Marshall and Elizabeth Ellis. David kindly hosted me for an afternoon visit in the fall of 2015. We compared notes on the state of letterpress in the US and the UK, shared stories about hunting for equipment and type, and learned that we both have platen presses with a common lineage.
Tucked away in a former chocolate factory building, their light-filled and tidy studio is a dream workspace.
Picturesque every direction one looks... time-worn tools of the trade have been collected over time, cleaned up, and are now being put back in use in this beautiful workspace.
David and Elizabeth produce limited edition prints with an emphasis on typography. Work is printed with hand-set type from a growing collection of vintage wood type and metal type old and new.
Much of their work is done on an Vandercook proof press, and they have a newly acquired German-made Grafix cylinder press shown here in the background.
The Counter Press also has a fabulous Arab platen press that has a connection to my early Gordon press.
I learned from David and the British Letterpress website that Josiah Wade based his 1872 Arab press design on George Gordon's 1851 Franklin press. It's believed that Wade and Gordon met on a sea voyage between UK and America, where they connected, and later Wade bought the rights from Gordon to manufacture a similar press and made his own improvements. Models were made in the UK up until 1959.
The Arab press owned by The Counter Press is a beauty in great condition. Check out the name plate built into the cog!
The day I visited, the Vandercook bed was filled with a page from the second installment of their Extra Condensed newspaper. The form featured paragraphs of carefully hand-set type and some tricky corner joins of rule.
Released in early 2016, Extra Condensed No. 2 is a fun typographic gem.
Thank you David and Elizabeth for sharing your space and work with me!
Check out more of their work at The Counter Press website. If interested in one of their limited edition prints, snap it up when you see it, as their work tends to sell out! Follow them on Instagram at @thecounterpress and on Twitter at @thecounterpress.