Price for a press

I want to purchase a Kelsey 5x8. I have no idea what I should pay for one. If it’s in excellent condition, what price should I pay? If it’s in need of repair? Any advice would be most appreciated!

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Fully restored presses seem to go for around $1000. Dirty but complete presses for $500 or so. Locally I’ve seen them for a couple hundred on Craigslist.

Eveyone has to judge for themselves based on what they can afford and how badly they want one. Personally I think in terms of value and would never spend more than a couple hundred dollars for a Kelsey 5x8. If I could afford $1000 for a press I could probably afford $1500 or so and a C&P Pilot would be a much better press for the money. On the other hand, if I could afford that much I’d likely be able to find a Pearl or a Golding with a treadle which might be an even better buy than the Pilot.

In terms of space, keep in mind that a tabletop press needs…a table. So the actual space involved is about the same for a Pearl treadle platen. Check out Maggie Portis’ Gamewell Press blog:

and you will get a very good understanding of these issues. She started with a Kelsey 5x8, went to a Kelsey 6x10, and now has a Pearl. This all happened very quickly as she found out that in terms of value for the money and ability to print the Pearl was the best way to go in her circumstances. Fortunately she hadn’t spent a lot of money on the Kelseys before she got the Pearl.

If space is not an issue and you know you plan to pursue letterpress printing, you can get a C&P 8x12 or even a 10x15 for probably under $500 and that will be your best value. There are logistical considerations such as moving it, but they are certainly fine presses and can usually be had cheap compared to the others. Sometimes people will give them away just to get them moved.

I’m not saying anything bad about Kelsey presses. If you can snatch one up cheaply then go for it. But read Maggies blog and consider the above.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

Look on and contact Alan and Lou. I have seen these go for 500-1500 on ebay and elsewhere. Alan and Lou have restorations and the presses have everything! Plus Alan can supply other items as well.

The nutty aspect of the above posts is that 4 short years ago 5” x 8” Kelseys were selling for $100 to $150. One would think that it might be time to manufacture some new presses to keep up with the demand. What ever happened to the Sigwalt patterns after John Bright left us?

I believe he was wanting to set up private castings of the Sigwalt presses. You could come down for a couple of days, and leave with a press. The owner would be involved in the casting and the machine work.

I went to his shop to see his set-up, now almost 12 1/2 years ago. He was making presses and had a nice little print shop as well. I saw lots of parts and a few assembled presses. At that time there was a glut of presses and he had trouble selling them. As I recall the work he did was nice. I heard that someone had acquired his equipment, but lost track several years ago. I guess John has been dead 5 or 6 years. Fine fellow.

I am probably going to purchase a Pilot now. Thanks for all of the helpful advice!

craftsman presses are a lot like the pilot, and you can still get parts from craftsman in massachusetts. good luck dick g.

I have a Craftsmen 6.5 x 10 Superior (Pilot clone) and it is wonderful. I would definitely recommend Craftsmen presses. If you are on the East coast there is a 9 x 12 Monarch being offered by this woman.
It has new rollers, and is lighter than many others because it is made from aluminum.
Good luck on your quest.