Purchasing a letterpress (as a gift)

Hi there-

My wife is a graphic designer and recently took a letterpress class and absolutely LOVED it. She’s been a big fan of letterpress stuff for a long time and since her b-day is coming up, I thought I’d get one for her.

However, being the programmer that I am, I’m pretty much at a loss as to which one to pick.

I found the following:
Adana 8x5 (no 3) on ebay UK ($1000 or best offer)
a Kelsey 3x5 (never used and looks great) on ebay (buy it now for $775 or bid up (now at $202)
a Kelsey Excelsior 6x10 (starting bid $300)
Kelsey 3x5 (starting bid $100).

If I get a 3x5, doesn’t that limit you pretty much to smaller invitations and cards? Is it even possible to letter press 8.5x11 paper in something with a small chase?

My biggest concern is getting the 3x5 and it not being big enough to create a wide range of products from it.

Anyone have any advice?

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Here are the links to the ones I’ve found so far:



Hi Sal - I would definitely not get her a tabletop press smaller than a 5x8.

My advice would to post a wanted ad in the Classifieds section here on Briar Press saying you are looking for a 5x8 (or larger) tabletop press in working condition. I already saw a few for sale, including an Adana 5x8.

Hope this helps!

Been in letterpress all my life. My advice to you is do not buy anything smaller than 5x8 press. Most likely you will find a Kelsey….not the best press keeping many things in mind. I would say that the best gift you can give your wife would be a 6x10 Pilot or Craftsman press. These are hard to find in good shape at a reasonable price. Every
new beginner in letterpress wants one. Supply is nil and demand is big. Still best waiting to find one….in the long run she will be very happy. Hate to be so discouraging…but I feel this is the truth. You of course will do what you will.



Did you contact the fellow in Eagan MN who is/was offering a free Craftsman press in the Briar Press classifieds? While it’s probably gone it wouldn’t hurt to ask. The perfect starter set.

“Free press, type, cabinet etc. in Eagan, MN” ad 26 April

I agree with Sal … I think that it is best to start with a good-sized, high quality tabletop, such as a Pilot, rather than settle for something smaller and grow discouraged with its limitations. A Pilot holds its value and if you buy it right, you can make plenty on it if she should want to graduate to a floor model press.

I have a pilot press (5 chases) listed in the classified along with everything your wife would need except type. It would have to be picked up, not shipped. While it’s not FREE. Everything that goes with the press makes a deal. Maybe a little dusty but I have owned the pilot since 1980. No breaks or welds, new rollers & trucks. Included is a 3x5 Kelsey that needs rollers. It is in great condition. Check my listing. A lot of supplies are included.

It depends on what she would like to print. The Intro on the Five Roses Press web site ( http://www.fiveroses.org/intro.htm ) would be a good place to start. I would not surprise her with a press. Surprise her with the idea, instead. Since she’d be the one running it, she should get to help pick it out.

If space is not an issue, don’t limit yourself to tabletop presses. Consider an 8x12 or 10x15 C&P or a 7x11 Pearl or similar floor model press. Much more versatile and generally less expensive than the tabletops.