October's Record Of The Month - Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension - is a special one for more than just the extraordinary music itself. Landing on the doorsteps of all club members this month, this impressive first pressing of the album is an exclusive one-off that arrives in a very special "tip-on" jacket.
But what exactly are tip-on jackets?
Tip-on-aka-“old style,” “cereal board,” or sometimes called “Stoughton” (since that’s the primary company that prints tip-on jackets) is a style of printing that ages in more interesting ways, lasts longer, accentuates colors and blacks on the artwork in better ways than other printing styles, and is a more “human” process. This was particularly important to Sufjan as his process in making music is a meticulous “human” process–just like these jackets.
Tip-on is a printing style where any artwork is printed on thin paper, and then that paper is glued by hand to the cardboard (in the case of The Ascension, it’s kraft board), and then hand-folded. Tip-on was the preferred style for record jackets for many years up until the 80s, but direct-to-print pressing is way more common now–because it is industrialized and therefore less expensive. Direct-to-print offset printing is where the artwork is printed directly on the paperstock, and this jacket is folded by a machine.
The Ascension's first-run clear gatefold jacket is brown-in (it uses kraft board), tip-on.
Stoughton on tip-on jackets:
Impress your friends with these talking points:
- Hand-made process; nearly everything is folded, glued, and mounted by hand.
- Prints on paper rather than cardboard which accentuates brings out better.
- Ages in more interesting ways and is bit like denim jeans; will reveal shapes and folds of the record as it ages.
- Including a tip-on jacket was important to Sufjan as his process in making music is a meticulous “human” process–just like these tip-on jackets. While more expensive, tip-on jackets employ people as opposed to automation