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PreTint business cards

Here’s an artifact from the transitional era (and my dad’s old letterpress shop) when offset printing was encroaching on the remaining territorial outposts of letterpress—in this case, the humble business card. The PreTint Company’s preprinted color offset masters combined the best qualities of both technologies, enabling the letterpress printer to offer jazzy design and color on a business card job with a single-color, short-run letterpress imprint.

Today’s variations on this concept, of course, are the preprinted sheets made for personalizing in a laser printer, so really, the most notable thing about the PreTint product is the period quirkiness of the designs.

This 1964 PreTint catalog shows the stock designs available, along with sample imprints. The book is comb-bound with foldout pages to show the sample imprints alongside the stock card art. I’m showing just a few selected pages here. Each design example was perforated for easy tear-out. The printer would order the pre-printed offset color masters and set up a simple black-ink run.

From the catalog intro page:

"With the PRETINT system, you may select from a wide variety of colors, tones and styles. Thus, an intricate, attractive and professional-appearing card, individualized to your needs, now becomes possible, simply and easily, and at a considerable saving over a comparable card made up for you with original art."

Scott BirdsallComment