My Dad owned a printing business for many years. My sister bought it in 2001 and I ran the business with her for about 6 years. We had your current presses but we always had the old fashioned letterpress in the shop. This is the press that they used many years ago. The idea was for the plates to close together on each other to make the impression on the paper. A large inked roller would come down and ink the blocks of wood that would press against the paper. Back then you would put the wooden blocks of letters into a steel frame one at a time, working backward. Imagine how much time it would take to set up the type for one page.
We still used that press for numbering. We would put the paper in one sheet at a time, let it make the impression, then remove it. You had to be at peak performance when using the letterpress because if you didn't get your hands out fast enough, it would crush them! There is no stopping steel to steel once in motion. Our letterpress had an electric motor but back in the day, they actually had a foot petal.
I really miss the days of working side by side with my sister but life has taken us into different directions. We had the BEST times during those 6 years. I never felt like I was going to work when I woke up in the mornings.
Photo Above: The letterpress that we had in the shop. We traced it back to around the turn of the century (circa 1890).