I have an old (sign press) that has been handed down for a couple of generations. It is a flat, cast-iron press made by Showcard Machine Company (Merchandise Mart?), Chicago, 54, Illinois. It is in quite good condition, and would likely work fine. I am amazed at the lack of rust considering the years of storage. The one patent, 910 986 was apparently issued in January, 09. I have some images but have had trouble getting them to you. Will try again. It has a pile of letters, all apparently cast iron (the total weight with the letter is about 150 pounds). Can anyone tell me anything about it??
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There are several threads about presses like these. I did a quick search.
They are great little proof presses, and will give you pleasing results if you are doing small runs, and don’t mind hand inking. Looks like yours even has an ink slab on the side. Multi-color jobs are possible, but registration is a bit more work.
The type is most likely lead instead of iron.
The Merchandise Mart wasn’t built until 1930, so it had to be made sometime after that.
The “couple of generations” sounds romantic, but in reality this outfit was probably made from the late 40’s through the early 60’s.
The type is lead.
It is a great little press, and in fact is the first proof press I ever owned. A few decades later, I have a few dozen presses, but that little proof press is still near and dear to my heart. It is absolutely fantastic for road trips where I talk about and demonstrate letterpress printing.
This press was very common in commercial retail stores where something like this was used occassionally to print “showcards” in the store like “Big Shoe Sale Today”. These were not designed as production presses, but to simply print a few showcards now and then with the unique typesetting system that employed type with a grooved base that fit onto a system of rods/bars set in the base of the press.