How did the copy press work?

I have several copy/book presses that I have acquired through out the years. I understand the basic function of these presses but not the actual process of making a copy. What kind of paper was used, how many copies from the original,etc.? Would it be possible to use a chase in some fashion to print from these presses?

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I was told that in law offices, they would wet the original manuscript page, put a page of tissue paper over it, place both in the press, close the press, and let the ink bleed from the original onto the tissue. It was primitive way to make an exact copy of something written in longhand, in ink.

Kevin is spot on. Because most of the writting inks were water based they would respond to the dampening of the paper. the copy was made onto thin tissue because it allowed the letter to be read from the back of the almost transparent tissue - Being a print off the original it would be a reverse image so some way of being able to read it without using a mirror was necessary.

Here is a link to a site that discusses early copying machines:

Another link to a page from “Linoleum Block Printing” by Ernest Watson, that might help:[email protected]/4276352680/


Oak Knoll Books, Before Photocopying is a complete history and explanation of the copy press. It has photos of most every type ever made with patents and an explanation of how to make a copy. These presses were in every bank, train station shipping office, and business and they were the only easy way to make a copy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Records were kept in copy press books with tissue pages.