Newer than a Newbie 4x6 Excelsior Kelsey Letterpress


Forgive me if I am breaking protocols but I just joined and want to get a question out there before the opotunity passes by.

Long story short, studied art in college and fell in love with letterpress in my final year. I do not know what types of presses they were, they were rather large and you were able to feed in paper and all the rollers were powered (forgive my lack of terminology knowledge). I had printed some posters and a small book for my senior project, set lead and wood type and once or twice used poly plates.

This is over 10 years ago now that I have seen a letterpress but dream often of them. I am getting married next year and thought how wonderful it would be to print my own invitations.

I search weekly on craigslist for ‘letterpress’ just incase

this came up today
4x6 Excelsior Kelsey Letterpress w/o rollers. $100 Firm
Pick up Only

I know next to nothing about this press, but am willing to get dirty if need be. I know that I will have to put a little money into rollers.

I guess what I want to know is is this a decent little press that I can print invitations on, would it be too hard to learn to use?

What questions should I ask the seller regarding it?

Am I nuts?

Thank you for any advice or information you have to offer!


Log in to reply   14 replies so far

I was not aware that Kelsey made a 4x6 press. It most likely is a 3x5 (maybe the outside dimensions of the chase would be approx 4x6).

The price is good, and you could likely get your money out of it and more if you decide it is too small for you. Take a look on eBay and you will see that these presses go for much more money on a regular basis.

It might prove a good introduction (or re-introduction to letterpress, but may not be the press if you are planning to do larger pieces.

Mackitten…. Jhenry is correct. Kelsey never made a 4x6, so it’s most likely a 3x5. Before you buy it, I’d recommend going to Don Black Linecasting’s website and looking at the Kesley manuals very closely. That way you’ll be able to see if any parts are missing.

The one thing I’d make sure is there is the chase, which is the frame that holds the type. Sometimes they are missing.

As far as print goes, they are nice little machines. I’ve got several presses in my shop, but I still use my 65 year old 3x5 for a lot of little things. AND at $100, it’s not a bad deal if it’s complete.

By the way, NA Graphics has rollers and trucks for it.

Jennifer, that is a good price, but like jhenry says don’t think Kelsey made a 4x6, if its a 3x5 its a little small for invitations, if its a 5x8 it might be large enough for invitations. My advice would be to take some lessons or rent some time on a press somewhere. Where are you located, if you post the area you are in there might be someone close to you who could help you. Good Luck Dick G.


Thanks for all the comments everyone!

I emailed the seller and asked if she had anymore details or and a photo. The person is about a 2.5 drive so to go see that its missing things would be rough. But I guess I can see the response they send if any.

@dickg I am in Dutchess County in NY


Actually Kelsey did make a 4x6 and I have one.

lorene v:

Is your Kelsey 4x6 a Victor model?

Mackitten indicated that the press in question is an Excelsior, which I don’t believe came in a 4x6 size, but I certainly may be mistaken. It has been known to happen.

Lorene….. if you have one, then maybe they did make one. I should have said that they did not make a 4x6 Excelsior…. or that their catalogs from the 1920’s to 1965 don’t list one. Thanks for the info.

Jennifer, your only one state away from me, i’m in southeastern Massachusetts, in Hanson, were almost neighbors, if its not too far to drive to i would be happy to give you a few lessons, just bring regular coffee and a blueberry muffin and i’ll teach you all day. There is Letterpress Things in Chicopee, MA, they run classes from time to time also in New Jersey is Excelsior Press, he teaches and has quite a collection of presses. If you buy this press ask if there is a chase with it, ask if there is 2 grippers, furniture would be nice to get and quoins and a quion key. The main thing is if it is an odd size press you might not be able to find a chase, Good Luck Dick G.

Thanks all this is so helpful.

He finally wrote back I was starting to think not - this is the response

“Its actually a 3x5 kelsey Excelsior … they never made a 4x6 I mismeasured the printing area.”

I’d say, in my opinion, that it its in excellent overall shape. Some minor cosmetic oxidation ( could be fixed with 20 minutes of steel wool and maybe a little oil) and a slightly bend spring arm ( again cosmetic, still 100% functional) Other than that its pretty mint. Like the auction says no rollers. I will also be including five wooden trays of type, for free.”

I just wonder if it is too small? I mean yes great to start to learn but had an idea to print invitations etc and on a 3 x 5 I can’t really do that right?

@ dickg - thanks for the offer close kinda but almost 5 hours away LOL

I would buy it just for the type!!

Its a good press to learn on, but maybe too small for invitations, you won’t find a press that cheep anywhere, rollers will run you just under $200. Good Luck Dick G. ( if you fly to boston, i’m only 1 hour drive south)

My 4x6 Kelsey is a Watson Model-S. One of these days I need to post the photos & the info I got thanks to Alan Runfeldt.

That Alan has forgotten more about kelseys than i’ll ever know/ Never heard of a 4x6 Kelsey, learn something new every day. Dick G.

I wrote back to the seller again asking for a picture and some additional things you guys suggested - still waiting for a response