What do you think is best?

So, I’m slowly getting acquainted with letterpress printing. I have done some experimenting on my first press, a Kelsey 5x8, only to realize (as warned :-) that I would probably want to move on to something larger pretty quickly- seeing that my goal is invitation printing. I’m trying to decide what is the best press for me. I’m very anal about ink coverage, consistent impression, etc…so when in mass printing of invitations, I want to get what can handle the job best. I would love to hear any/all opinions. Thanks everyone.

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How much space do you have? That will be one of the biggest factors in selecting a press.

Large basement, so good amount of room

Direct access to outside?

A platen jobber would probably be the best for you. 10x15 C&P if you can find one and have the ability to get it moved into your space.

You might want to consider a higher grade tabletop. Both Sigwalts and Pilots are superb for invitation work… and they are less cumbersome to move around. A C&P would also work well, but they can be intimidating for lesser experienced printers… and they can bite.

BUT my favorite press for invitations is a 7 x 10 Kelsey Star. It’s a treadle operated platen press similar to a C&P, but more lightly constructed. I owned one for years and it was one sweet honey.

Along the lines of what Winking Cat has mentioned you may also consider a Golding Pearl (Improved or Old Style) 7x11. They have great impressional strength, 3 form rollers, and a relatively small footprint. Probably easier to find than a Kelsey Star (which is indeed a good one).

hmmm ok…I have heard many other say they use a vandercook…so what are the pros and cons in a C&P vs a Vandercook?

Pros and Cons?

Time to print.

C&Ps are often going for pennies, while Vandercooks require upwards of $3000—and that’s for one of the smaller models.

C&Ps are almost everywhere; Vandercooks are quickly snatched up, many times even before they’re advertised.

Time to print: I can print 4 or 5 invitations on my 8x12 C&P—or my Pilot—in the amount of time it takes to turn the Vandercook’s cylinder all the way down to the end of the bed and back.

Vandercooks are awesome; they’re forgiving, makeready-wise, they’re pretty easy to learn on, and they’re great for wood type and forms where you need lots of ink coverage. Downside? They have lots of small parts, require a whole lot of patience and know-how to repair/restore, and the tympan is *not* inexpensive!

C&P floor model presses have great impression strength, and are not that much harder to figure out than your little Kelsey. It’s just that the parts are bigger. Start off slowly, whether with a treadle or a motor, and pretty soon you’ll be feeding with the best of ‘em.

Have you found another print shop in your area? What kind of presses do they have? Have you gone to “test” any other kinds of presses?

It’s hard to say what’s the right press for another person—you really have to try them all out!