C&P Pilot Reasonable Price?

I’m a graphic designer looking to buy my first press, and I’m wondering if $3000 for a refurbished C&P Pilot is a reasonable price. Even though I’m new, I’m serious enough that I want something that will last me awhile and won’t have to be upgraded in a year or two.

I have seen less expensive ones on this website, but they have all been pick up only and are located too far away. The one I’m interested in will ship.

Thanks for any advice or feedback.

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I’m not one to stand in the way of a anyone making a profit, but three grand for a Pilot seems a bit out of line to me. Perhaps if you were to mention what part of the world you are located, someone might contact you with a better offer. One of the real advantages of picking up a press is the transfer of information and training which can accompany such a transaction, something which is missing in opening a box delivered by a freight company.

jhenry, thanks for your thoughts. I admit that the $3000 price tag was a bit of a shock to me, which is why I wanted to know what others thought about it.

I’m located in Vancouver BC (not exactly the letterpress capital of the world), so if anyone knows of a similar press for sale with a smaller price tag please let me know.

I am willing to travel as far south as the Portland area and as far East as Calgary or Edmonton. Basically anything in the Pacific Northwest is doable. If I can’t find on here, I guess I’ll have to have one shipped or go on a serious road trip.

$3,000, to me, is ridiculous. I would look around first, ask around at print shops, and post a lot of “wanted” ads in local shoppers and weekly newspapers. Post some ads in laudromats and senior centers. Pilots were used in school printing classes. Thousands of them ended up as surplus, and were sold for practically nothing at public auction. I have two of them that were disposed of that way in the 1970s. A friend of mine bought them, dragged them home, and there they sat for 30 years. And another thing — there is real value in seeing what you are buying. You could pay $3,000 and never get the press, or wind up with a press that was broken in transit.

With a press like the pilot, you’re ultimately paying a premium for its portability, as the demand for presses that can be transported easily and set up in a bedroom or home is incredibly high. Sort of like when laptops first hit the scene.

$3000 is a ton of money. As a comparison, I originally bought my 2 12x18 Kluges for $1500, plus $300 moving expenses.

You probably could find a floor model press in your area, but at that point you have to consider what kind of role you want letterpress to play in your life.

A couple of years ago there was a beautifully restored C&P Pilot that sold on eBay for $4,500.

Note that recently someone offered a Golding Official in New York upstate for free (I think). Much better press, and you could fly there from New Zealand, pack up the press in checked luggage, and fly back for less than $3000, probably.


I was curious and at loose ends this afternoon, so I looked up travel costs from New Zealand to New York.
Expedia says one could fly from Auckland, NZ, to say … Albany, NY, for about $2300 round trip. Fly into NYC and it’s about $2000. Takes about 22 hours one way. I suppose you’d have to rent a car and stay in a hotel and eat once in a while and whatnot, so that’ll add a considerable amount, too, depending on if you plan to have some fun as long as you’re here. So theoretically, that part of it is totally possible for less than $3000. But don’t book the flight until you read the baggage restrictions. Continental, the first airline that came up, has a number of restrictions that will make transporting the press as checked baggage difficult. Maybe it could be done if you can break it down into four “bags” that are less than 70 pounds each, the maximum number and weight. Near as I can figure out, that would cost about $500 in addition to the regular checked baggage fees.
Now… how much will it cost to drive to NY from Vancouver and back? Theoretically, of course, … since that free press must be long gone.

Thanks for all your comments everybody. The search continues…

I think a little bit of patience with the search will pay off. About 5 years ago I lived just outside Vancouver and came across a complete letterpress setup (large press, small press, lots of type, etc) for less than $2k. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get it at the time and obviously it’s long gone now, but just pointing out that if you aren’t in a hurry, you’ll likely come across a better deal. There’s a decent number of letterpress enthusiasts around, though sometimes it takes a bit of searching to find them. There are a few shops in the Vancouver area, a few on Vancouver Island and one or two on the Sunshine Coast if I recall correctly. Getting to know some of the people at Emily Carr may help as well, as they are still actively teaching letterpress and may come across equipment occasionally.

You might also try contacting a couple of other folks. On Gabriel Rummonds’ website three handpress printers in BC are listed: Barnes, Michael. Cap-à-Pie Press; 4095 First Avenue; Burnaby, B.C. V5C 3W5, Canada; Elsted, Jan & Crispin. Barbarian Press; 12375 Ainsworth Road, R.R. 8; Mission, BC V2V 5X4, Canada; Milroy, Rollin. Heavenly Monkey; 1138 Lily Street; Vancouver, BC Canada V5L 4H6; they may have other contacts. Email address for these are at the www.letterspace.com/handpress/ website. Networking will often be the most productive way to turn up goodies.


Hang in there. I spoke with a guy in California, bought a Pilot for $10 at a garage sale!! Yes $10. He sold it to a person down the street for $800. Just keep looking and things will appear!

You guys are great! I don’t even have a press yet and I already feel at home here. Thank you so much for all your suggestions.