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15+ Collections to Display in a Letterpress Drawer

Want to know how to display collections without looking cluttered? Try a letterpress drawer! Here are 15+ collections to display in a printers tray, letterpress drawer, or shadow box.

As a child, I loved to collect small things… coins, keychains, stickers, rocks, and more. While, as an adult, my “collections” are a bit more practical, I still enjoy displaying collections of everyday objects in stunning vignettes. A letterpress drawer makes displaying tiny objects simple, and beautiful.

What is a Letterpress Drawer?

A letterpress drawer, also commonly know as a letterpress tray, printer’s tray, or printer’s drawer, originated from the letterpress printing industry.

Letterpress printing began in the 1400s, invented by Gutenberg, and was widely use through the 19th century. Once offset printing was developed in the 20th century, letterpress declined (see: history of printing).

15+ Collections to display in a Letterpress Drawer or Printer's Tray

Due to the age of the industry, it’s likely that when you buy a letterpress drawer, it is an antique (100+ years old). If not, it will be soon!

Letterpress drawers were stored in type cases (furniture-style cases that hold several drawers). Each drawer has many small compartments, which hold type blocks.

A type block is a single letter with a wood base and metal top. To letterpress, brush ink onto metal letters and press them into the paper.

In order to typeset, the printer chose the correct type blocks to compose a document. The printer would pull the letterpress drawer out of the typecase and work from it. Pulling out the drawer for use is similar to a tray – hence the name “printer’s tray.” (see: typecase)

15+ Collections to Display in a Letterpress Drawer

Want to know how to display collections without looking cluttered? Try a letterpress drawer! Here are over 15 collections that can be displayed in a printers tray, letterpress drawer, or shadow box.

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Bonus! 7 More Collections to Display in a Printer’s Tray

  • Pin Trading/Pin Collections
  • Keychain Collection
  • Coin Collection
  • Salt/Pepper Shakers
  • Black and White Photos
  • Vintage Stamps
  • Miniatures
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