Reliance Washington handpress

This past weekend we were able to pick up a Washington handpress for Printers’ Hall in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. I had seen the press buried under debris in a shed several weeks ago and made arrangements to have it donated to our museum. At the time I first saw it, all that I could make out was RELIANCE cast on the head. Everything else was literally buried in piles of junk. I had naturally assumed that it was going to be a Schniedewend RELIANCE from Chicago.

When I arrived early Saturday morning to start excavating and removing everything that had been piled on top of it, I was amazed to discover that this press was actually manufactrured by Wm. A. Field Co., Chicago USA. This is very prominently cast on the head as well.

Does anyone have any information at all about the Wm. A Field Co.? Where they a successor to Scheidewend? Any information at all would be greatly appreciated. We’ll have this beauty restored and functioning for next year’s APA Wayzgoose and Great Northern Printer’s Fair to be held in September 2009 at Printers’ Hall.

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Thank you very much for the GREAT information. I have an Ostrander-Seymour catalog of that vintage. I hadn’t thought to look there, but I’ll pull it out tonight and take a look. We have the benefit of having a very talented and experienced restorer/painter of antique engines on our board and he is going to do the restoration work on this press. We were extremly lucky because the tympan and frisket were included AND the brass caps over the top nuts were there as well. The only break we could find was on one of the corner units on the bed, and we have both pieces so it should be an easy fix.

I have a Schneidewind Reliance of my own with the leather belts to move the bed back and forth. The Field Reliance has a gear driven mechanism to accomplish this.

I did pull out my Ostrander-Seymour catalog, but mine is No. 23 and by that time the Washington handpresses had the Ostrander-Seymour name cast in the heads. They offered both Extra Heavy Engravers’ models as well as regular models. I also went back to where we got the press and found some paperwork that indicates it arrived in 1969 where we got it (and hadn’t moved or been used for almost 40 years!). It had previously been in service at the Quality Park Engraving plant, somewhere in the Minneapolis area. If someone knows if this company was in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or elsewhere, that information would be greatly appreciated.


Quality Park was and is located in St. Paul. I don’t know if they still do engraving—it would seem envelopes are they’re current area of focus. They have offices/distributors throughout the country.

Hope that helps.


Thanks Brad,

That helps a lot. All details are helpful in preserving information about the press. All I had to go one was a letter from the V.P. of Graphic Arts Engraving Co. in Minneapolis, dated Jan. 13, 1969 that had been sent to Noble Gammel who worked for Meredith Publishing Company (Better Homes & Gardens et al.) in Des Moines. It was an acklowedgement of an order that Meredith had placed for printing plates from GAE.

The third paragraph of the letter paragraph says “Please tell Ray that the Quality Park Engraving plant is now 90% cleaned out and the equipment sold but we still have one Washington hand press with a Mr. Ray Woods name attached to it awaiting his word. Please have him advise me.”

Ray Woods was an artist at Meredith at that time. He passed away at age 86 about a month ago. It was in the garage/shed behind his house that I discovered this press.

It is always great to find additional pieces to the puzzle.

Thanks again,