Frequently Asked Questions

Your prices are much lower than some we’ve found elsewhere. Is your quality comparable?
The quality of our letterpress work is among the best in the country. We offer samples for $5 to anyone who is concerned that there must be a catch.  We’ve been doing this since 1946 (ok, it’s not actually the same people as back then). If you need your hand held through the entire process and have a deep pocket, then there are other boutique shops that may be better suited for you. But if you have a pretty good idea what you want (perhaps even have the design “print-ready”), then we can probably save you some bread on some top quality letterpress work.  Here is a link to our Yelp Reviews.

How should I submit my artwork?
We accept files from all major design programs (Quark, Illustrator, Indesign,) but most of our orders come to us as PDF files. If you design your files with Microsoft Word or other inexpensive programs, it is usually best if you convert them to a PDF prior to sending them.  The easiest thing is to email your files to info@mercuriobrothers.com.

Will I get a proof before you print them?
We typically email pdf proofs for your approval prior to printing.  They are included in the price of the job.   Hard copy proofs are also possible if required, at an additional cost.

Can I give you a Photoshop file?
If it is saved as a vector file, it may be ok. When in doubt, send it over and we’ll evaluate your file for free.

Can I supply my own paper for you to print on?
Sure. However, due to the extra work and stress of dealing with unfamiliar paper, we charge the same for customer supplied stock as we do for Strathmore.  Also be sure to allow a reasonable amount of stock for setup and spoilage. A good rule of thumb is 25 extra plus 10%. So if you wanted 100, give us 35 extra.  If you wanted 200, give us 45 extra, etc.  FYI, sometimes we run a job and if we are not completely satisfied with it, we can go and cut more of our paper and rerun the job.  If you supply the paper, obviously that option is gone.

Can you do sizes other than what you list on your website?
We can print in any dimension up to aproximately 10 inches by 14 inches. Actually we’ve letterpressed forms up to 17″ long by sending them through the press once from each direction.  Custom sizes are no problem.  The tricky part is usually trying to find matching envelopes for an unusual size.

Can you control how much impression there is on the paper?
Yes.  We’ve found that most people want a fairly deep impression.  My father used to say, “Back in the 50’s and 60’s you wouldn’t last a day in a letterpress shop if you hit the type that hard!” Back then the idea was to try to make it look like “offset”. Plus it was all done with lead type and you didn’t want to constantly smash the type. Polymer plates hold up much better under hard impression than lead type does.

I want a 2-sided business card.  Will the image from the front be indented on the back?
Yes, to some degree.  We have methods to get an impression while still leaving the backside “mostly” unaffected,  Using a thicker stock such as 500 gm Somerset or 600 gm Arturo is definitely better for 2-sided letterpress. But the absolute best results are obtained by printing the fronts and the backs on separate sheets, then mounting the 2 sheets together, forming 1 card with no impression  visible from the opposite side.  This is even better than using a super-thick stock. Even with very thick letterpress stock there can be issues.  If the image from the first side is in the same spot as the image from the second side, the second side will push back the impression from the first side, flattening it back down.  When mounting 2 separate stocks, this problem is completely eliminated.  Just ask us for a custom quote if interested in this method.

Can you letterpress with no ink (blind letterpress)?
Yes.  It is charged as as one-color job.  It makes a deboss into the paper, which depending on the artwork, can look pretty nice. It doesn’t get as dramatic effect as blind embossing or debossing, because we’re using just a “male” die (the letterpress plate) as opposed to a male and female die as in embossing or debossing.

Can you print on both sides of a sheet, like for a two-sided postcard?
Yes.  We typically don’t imprint as deeply, to avoid from interfering with the image on the opposite side of the sheet.  Letterpress is best when we can put a nice deep impression into the paper without much concern for the opposite side of the sheet. For 2-sided printing, we recommend 220 lb/600 gsm cover.

Can you combine full-color digital printing and letterpress?
Sure, we do digital printing on the same paper stock that we letterpress on.  We can print letterpress right over a color image or combine letterpress with spot color.  Send us your design and we can advise you. Don’t forget, we also print offset which can actually be the most affordable. If you have half a dozen different pieces that you want on the same paper stock, offset may be the way to go. We can print them all at one time on a 20 x 26 inch sheet, then cut them to the size you need.

Does metallic ink come out shiny?
If you want the shiniest gold, then you probably want gold foil stamping. Pantone Gold and other metallic ink absorbs into the uncoated stock, losing most of it’s sheen.  It doesn’t cost much more for metallic (or pigment) foil than letterpress.

What kind of paper works best for foil stamping?
Foil works best on smooth paper.  Although most of our foiling is done on our Lettra, among our “house” stocks, Strathmore or Cougar would be the best choices for foil. If you want a thicker sheet than 110 lb, we can duplex the paper into 220 lb.

How long does the order take to print?
Depending on the time of year, invitation packages  take approximately  1 week from approved proofs. Single piece orders such as business cards are usually 1  week or less.  Please call to get current turnaround times.

Do you offer rush service?
We can “rush” your order for a 25% upcharge.  It typically cuts the current, normal turnaround time in half.

Can I at least get the envelopes faster so we can start addressing them?
We can “rush”  your outer envelope for a flat $50 additional fee. The rest of your order would have our normal turnaround time.

Can you typeset/design my job for me or do you only work from supplied artwork/files?
The pricing on our website is based on your supplied artwork/files.  If you basically know what you want, but need us to typeset/design it for you, our fee is $80/hr.  A typical 4-piece (invitation, reply card, 2 envelopes) usually runs about $160. We are also able to customize many of our online samples.

If I give you a motif or clipart, can you use it in my design?
Sure, just place it in your file where you want it to print.  We print from digital files, so in that respect, it’s just like if we were going to print it offset.  Also, you may email us the image and we can let you know if there is any problem with reproducing it through the letterpress process.

What type of paper is best for letterpress printing?
Thick, spongey cover stock is best.  We use Somerset 100% Cotton 300 gm Soft White and 300 gm Radiant White as our “house” #1 grade sheet for customers who want the best possible.  We also carry Strathmore 110 lb Wove cover, which is thick, but is a stiffer sheet.  It is  more economical, especially in the higher quantity orders, but doesn’t get quite the depth of impression that Somerset does. Lettra is a good compromise between the Somerset and the Strathmore. Lettra is 100% cotton like Somerset but at a much lower price point.

What is the thickest paper you can print letterpress?
We’ve printed on 70 pt chipboard (see our sample page). If you prefer an extra thick stock, we offer 500 Gm Somerset White (if you want white) or Waterford 640 Gm White (which is more of a natural white).

What is the thinnest rule you can letterpress?
The thinnest line we can letterpress is .25 (1/4 point). Any thinner than that and the line may break apart on the plate. 

Can large solids be letterpress printed?
Yes and no.  Letterpress is best suited for line art, small screens, half-tones, and text. Usually any solid area larger than 1 square inch thick needs to be “double bumped” which can entail extra charges. Any solids larger than a couple inches would have to be offset printed.  Occasionally we have a job that requires offset on a portion and letterpress on another portion.

What if I have you print my job and I later realize that I need another 25?
This happens occasionally. It’s no problem to rerun your job and get you a few more.  It would have been substantially more economical to have ordered 25 more originally when we had your job on the press. The price difference between 100 vs 125 invitations is quite small compared to the rerun cost of 25.

What color inks can I choose from?
Just as in offset printing, we can letterpress any Pantone color you specify.  Sometimes people request that we print something like “Sage Green”.  We’ve printed Sage Green various times, and it’s always been a different Pantone color. One person’s idea of Sage Green is different from another person’s. Go to: https://www.pantone.com/color-finder#/pick?pantoneBook=pantoneSolidUncoatedV3M2  to see sample images of a Pantone color chart.  Just remember the color on your monitor is just an aproximation of what the color would look like on paper, as not all monitors are calibrated to look the same, not to mention your looking at color with light beaming through it. Let me repeat that…your monitor will not accurately display colors and should not be used to select colors when color matching is critical!

What is edge-painting?
Edge-painting is where a color is applied to the very edge of the card (not the front or the back, but the edge, much like a gilded book).  This can be done in virtually any color, including gold, silver, etc.  The effect is most pronounced on our thicker stocks such as Somerset 500 gm, Arturo 600 gm, or when we mount 2 sheets of our thinner stocks together, forming a thick card.

What forms of payment do you accept?
We require a 50% down payment when ordering.  We accept VISA, Mastercard,  cash, and checks. Typically, clients give us their VISA/MC # over the phone or fill out our credit card authorization (pdf) form via email when placing an order.

How do I order?
Simply follow through the online pricing calculator and click “add to cart” or “upload file”. You can also call us at (510) 845-2600 from the hours of 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.  Usually the files can be sent as an email attachment to info@mercuriobrothers.com.  All the job specifications (paper type, ink colors, sizes, etc.) can be emailed to us at any time

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