About Common Press

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About Common Press

The Common Press is the letterpress and book arts studio at the University of Pennsylvania. A collaboration of Penn Libraries, Penn Design, and Kelly Writers House, the press supports interests in writing and text, print culture and history, and visual arts and design. The facility provides an environment where students can move between digital and manual image making, collaborating with writers, printmakers, designers, scholars, and others with an interest in printing. The Common Press exists to support teaching and to facilitate collaborative projects across the university.

For more information about engaging with the Press, visit our About page.


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The History of Common Press

Common Press was founded on January 17, 2006, the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth.

commonpress about image
commonpress about image

Equipment List

Vandercook No. 4
Vandercook SP-15
Hoe Washington Hand Press (ca. 1847)
Chandler and Price New Series 8 x 12 Platen Press
Golding Pearl New Improved #8 5 x 8 Platen Press
Kelsey Excelsior 5 x 8 Tabletop Platen Press
2 Provisional Presses
Library of wood and metal type
2 sets of P22 Blox
Bases for photopolymer plate & pressure prints
Pearl Guillotine Cutter, 14” Blade
Bookbinding tools
Corner Rounder
Button Maker (1.25")


Philacentrik, Nine Views of Philadelphia, (2006)
Swipe File, Charles Burns (2008)
Monsters Mind, 15th Room Press (2008)
Wharton Esherick: A Portfolio of Prints (2010)
Chymia (2014)


Printmaking (silkscreen, etching, mixed media)
Graphic Design
Advanced Graphic Design
Open Book (Benjamin Franklin Scholar Program)
Cultures of the Book
Book Arts & Letterpress
Grotesque Forms
Making Writing


Print Regional Design Annual (2007/2008)
Philadelphia Design Awards (2009)

Visiting Artists

Carolee Campbell (2007)
Swoon (2007)
Johanna Drucker (2008)
David Carson (2010)
Hamilton Wood Type (2014)
Louie Palu and Julianna Foster (2019)
Josh MacPhee (2020)