FLASHBACK: 1960s Heidelberg Cylinder Letterpress

The printing press heralded the new age of modern life by introducing movable type. Johannes Gutenberg is credited with invention of the printing press and movable type in 1440 (although I hear that a press was also used in China around that time). That was the press that created the Gutenberg Bible and really changed the fabric of society.

The difference between the original Heidelberg Letterpresses and our Heidelberg Cylinder Letterpress is the addition of the motor – the original used a hand lever.  This Heidelberg “high speed” cylinder press was introduced in 1934.  Our specific Cylinder Press was made in the early 1960s and has been in operation ever since: DoradoPkg acquired the press in 2003.  It is very versatile, relatively easy to set up and accommodates small quantities with quick and easy changeovers, which is great for the album covers we print, particularly with the specialized or limited edition releases, many of which are numbered.

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Here at DoradoPkg, we use this particular press for its die-cutting capabilities. Just as the moveable type function of a letterpress makes a physical imprint on the page, a die is set in the machine to create a shape – in this case a record jacket or insert. Albums ranging from classic re-issues to newer releases come through our Heidelberg Letterpress, including an additional run of a 12-inch for Explosions in the Sky.

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Historically, some of the most popular album covers in history have been die-cut. The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers and Bob Marley’s Catch a Fire both come to mind – the latter featured a die-cut sleeve that opened like a Zippo lighter and the Stones cover really needs no introduction. I think everyone is familiar with that iconic zipper.


New Heidelberg Cylinders are no longer in production, as far as I can tell, however parts for them are constantly manufactured for maintenance purposes.  We use this press because the new die-cutting presses are unwieldy and exceptionally large. Our Heidelberg is also much more versatile in what can be done with it, especially when it comes to album covers.


Jennifer Freund is the founder and CEO of DoradoPkg – Music Packaging, manufacturers of high-quality album covers and other entertainment packaging materials. Located in North Hollywood, Freund oversees a dedicated staff and a printing/packaging facility that produces 7-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch album covers, album inserts, inner sleeves, center labels, CDs, digipaks, promotional print items, and their specialty, the Old Style Tip-On Record Jacket. For more information visit www.doradopkg.com or find them on Facebook and Twitter at @DoradoPkg.

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