Rescued Press

Hello, I have recently acquired a table top press and I am at a complete loss at trying to identify it. Any ideas? Thanks in advance.


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Fred -

I’ve been studying and collecting small platen presses for many years; have well over a dozen different models in our collection - and have never seen something quite like this.

I can’t tell you what it is, but it is certainly not a Kelsey, Victor, Pilot, Golding or Craftsmen. I can’t say for certain that Adana never made a press like this, but if they did, I’ve never seen one. The design, in fact is curious. That ratchet used to rotate the ink table is like no other press I have seen. And the angle of the ink table itself is curious - almost as though it’s out of position.

By 1900, most platen presses had ink tables that sloped towards the bed. This one appears to slope away from the bed towards the back. George Gordon changed that angle on his press prior to 1875 and all other popular presses followed his lead from then until the last Kelsey was made in the 1980s.

What I can say is that whoever designed and built this press used their own new ideas and did not study or follow the more popular designs too closely - and probably did not make many presses of this design.

Can you give us any more information on where and how this press was found?

- Alan


I couldn’t guess who the manufacturer of this press is, but it is pretty obvious that a lot of the mechanism is bent/ out of place/ or configured wrong. Alan’s hint that the inking plate is in a strange place is a clue. From the photos it looks like the ratchet that advances the inking plate is disengaged and that it should be in a vertical, not horizotnal position, and that the inking plate itself should be farther forward and probably more slanted toward the chase bed. I think a careful inspection of the various elements might indicate taht the press has been squashed under something for a bit and is distorted.

- Denis

It looks like a one of a kind, homemade press.


Thanks for all the advice chaps. Indeed the inking plate is damaged and is in that position because it has been, it should be in the position Denis described.

It was found in London (haven’t got a specific location) in a skip, at least a couple of years ago by my Uncle. Along with typecases and other sundries. It’s amazing what other people will chuck out!

I think it might just be a one of a kind handmade press as Paul suggested.

I’m going to clean it up and try and get it working, I’ll post some pictures here when i’ve finished with it…

Thanks again,

Puzzle solved. Press is a Sterling No.2. It came in 3 sizes, 8 x 5, 9 x 6, and 10 x 7. They also had a treadle which I have a seperate leaflet for. The company was owned by C.A. Brooks who also appeared to be a printer’s supplier. I have a separate catalogue of his. The site was part of or next door to a rubber stamp manufactory I had the pleasure of clearing out in the late 1980s. There was a mountain of type, blocks (most of which I still have). 2 Albions, the place was a treasure trove. The company was called Van Houten (like the Cocoa)
These small pieces of ephemera came my way recently via Ebay turned out the seller was someone I knew and from my home town - strange. Drop me a mail if you want me to photocopy all this and I will send it to you. I think your press a rare survivor, possibly unique I have never seen one before.

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Very interesting! Mystery solved. It’s crude, and it may look “homemade,” but how in the world could anyone make one, unless he had unlimited time, lots of knowledge, plus a foundry and a machine shop? Besides all that, he’d certainly have more invested in it than the price of two pounds, five shillings.

Albion -

Wow! Now, that’s a good story - and a new one to me. May I accept your offer of a copy - or better, yet, some scans of the pertinent pages of this catalog? I would be happy to pay - or trade - you something for your efforts.

And Fred - may I use your photos (and perhaps prevail upon you for some more) I’d love to make up a permanent web page about this formerly mysterious press.

- Alan

Will have to be pics or photocopies sent stateside. I do not have a scanner.
Jez (Albion Press)


Sorry for the late reply.

Albion press: Fantastic news! I’d love a photocopy of the document, your’e very kind. I’ll email you fairly soon. A superb and very interesting story! Thanks for all your help in solving this puzzle.

Alan: Feel free to use the photographs I have higher-res versions and could provide some more.

Mystery solved!