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Chicago Style: Rohner Letterpress is Big, Bold & Bountiful

Written by in Profiles

 

A Family Printing Legacy is Enhanced

with Greener, Modern Technology

In 1957 Bruno Rohner’s father, an apprenticed letterpress printer, and mother emigrated from Switzerland where they set up Rohner Printing in Chicago.  As time marched on, old print technologies gave way to new, and offset printing came to dominate the trade. “I remember dinner conversations among my family about the loss of craft in printing,” says Bruno Rohner. “But my father had to stay ahead of the curve so he invested heavily in offset.”

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In 1997, Bruno told his father that he wanted to start a letterpress print shop. “My father was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’” But after Bruno showed his father some letterpress work of Julie Holcomb Printers he understood. Soon Bruno set up a Heidelberg Windmill in his garage. After three months he quit his day job to become a full time letterpress printer. The son rekindled his father’s passion for letterpress. “My dad was totally involved from the beginning. We relied on him. He helped me choose the presses, set them up, keep them running, and train pressmen.”

Big, Bold and Loaded

Bruno has built a one-Windmill, garage door business into one of the biggest specialty printers in the country. Rohner Letterpress today is one of the largest letterpress companies in the US with a full time staff of 17 that includes five front-of-house, one pre-press tech, five full time pressmen, three post-press specialists and some part-timers.

 Jingle1 copy

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Bruno Rohner built a garage door print shop into one of the biggest specialty printers in the US with a full time staff of 17 that includes five front-of-house, one pre-press tech, five full time pressmen, three post-press specialists and some part-timers.  Rohner Letterpress is loved for its customer services and flawless product. Rohner Letterpress created a limited edition print that is for sale on The Beauty of the Letterpress website (http://thebeautyofletterpress.com/) to raise money for the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. Rohner says prepress technology has made letterpress cost-efficient and designer friendly.  He says polymer plating allows designers to do more due to its flexibility and accuracy. “It allows you to add more color and even overlap design elements,” he says,  “and polymer plates are also greener— the old plates used copper or magnesium painted with emulsion.” Not good for the environment.

Carnival1Tuan1 copy

Rohner Letterpress offers most finishing techniques, including edge treatments such as edge foiling and painting, foil stamping, embossing, die-cutting, envelope conversion and duplexing. Rohner recently relocated to a 14,000 sq ft space in a rough-and-tumble industrial area west of Humboldt Park, where flowers don’t bloom but space is cheap.  His favorite machine? “I have a press that can be fed a 22”x 32” sheet. I challenge you to find a machine that can take a sheet bigger than that.”

 

Hey?! What’s the Big Idea!?!

Paper Specs: CRANE’S LETTRA®, 220C, Fluorescent White
Printer: Rohner Letter Press=, 1112 N Homan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60651Website: http://rohnerletterpress.com/Beauty of the Letterpress: 
http://thebeautyofletterpress.com/printer/rohner-letterpress/
Contact: Bruno Rohner or Lindy Sinclair
 
  1. 10
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    2:11pm

    […] story of Rohner Letterpress is great and was highlighted recently by a blogpost for Neenah Paper.  They wrote, “In 1957 Bruno Rohner’s father, an apprenticed letterpress printer, and mother […]

  2. 11
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    9:09pm
    Dick Prey said:

    I worked with Rudy when I was graphic designer at the Chicago Board of Trade in the late 1970s to the mid 1980s . He was a pleasure to work with him ‘
    Knowing his quest for excellence you might want to reset his quote on your website which reads “You’ve GO to be kidding me!’”

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    7:56am
    Matt Porter said:

    Mr. Prey,

    Thank you for catching that typo! I corrected it. You are spot on, printers of quality have KEEN eyes.

    Thank You,

    Matt Porter, Managing Editor