What press to buy

I am starting a small business doing some letterpress and I need some feedback on what press to purchase next. Currently I have a Pilot Press which works fine but I want a better crisper impression. Would you suggest a C&P Floor Model or a Heidelberg or even a Vandercook. I would like the press to be around for a while so the best overall press would be great.

Any suggestions?

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From my experience, a Pilot will put down as crisp/clean an impression as almost any press if correctly set up with good type and rollers….and used on good paper. It’s a very nice machine. Prior to moving to a bigger press, I’d suggest experimenting with papers, inks, type, and makeready until you’ve exhausted the Pilot’s potential.

As far as a press recomendation goes, it depends on what you are printing. If you are doing long runs, then a Windmill is hard to beat, but if you are doing very short runs of very high quality work then a Vandercook might be in order.

The truth is that most of the old letterpresses will produce fine work if used correctly. My personal preference is toward the cylinder flatbed presses like Vandercooks…. but they can be a bit slow for long runs.

If doing small items (note cards, for instance) I would recommend a platen press like the C&P, Heidelberg or Kluge.

If, however you will be doing larger forms with heavy coverage, you will learn to appreciate a cylinder press.