What is a copy press?

Hello, I’m new here and very pleased to have found this community. I’m setting up a small printmaking studio - I have a copy press, but I don’t know what it was originally used for. Any comments on historical and contemporary uses of this sort of press would be appreciated.

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I’m replying to my own post ! Thanks to the great discussion board here, I found answers to my question about the use of a copy press (its for bookbinding) - yet I wonder if anyone has used it for relief printing with any success? Also someone said a copy press is for transferring an image from one printing paper to another (thus the name ‘copy’ press I suppose). But why would anyone want to do that?

Special inks and papers were used, to get duplicates of a hand-written document; the copy was on thin onionskin paper, and read through the back since it was wrong-reading. Offices often need copies of documents and this method was replaced by the typewriter and carbon paper, photostats, photocopies.

To answer the printing part of the question: once (out of curiosity), I tried printing on a copy press, with limited success. It kind of worked, but the ink transfer was not the best. If I were to try it again today, I’d dampen the paper first.

One is tempted to think that it is just like a hand press, but a hand press is designed to provide significantly more pressure.

Hi Tafoya,

Like Bill, I have also tried printing letterpress with my cast iron copy press. Results were not good. However I have found it makes a great proofing press for linocut work.


Thank you for the feedback. I have also tried using it for lino, but the ink transfer was uneven. Thanks parallel_imp, that makes sense … it maybe worth experimenting with different kinds of paper just to see what kinds of copies one can make. Too bad this press isn’t more useful. It’s awfully cute.

I don’t think you should give up so easily. I expect initial trials with a proper handpress would be just as bad. Getting good results takes some time and experimentation.

Of course, you may want to spend your efforts on a press where you are assured that good results are actually possible. But just trying it once or twice and giving up seems premature.


Preston you are right … the proof press wont go on the shelf yet …