I am looking for information on the Westman & Baker Co. based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the turn of the last century. I believe it closed for business around 1925. Any information on their presses and cutters would be appreciated. Where they original models or built under licence?
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I’ve known your name for a while, so I’d like to start by saying “Hello”. Stiff’n’Sore is my press name in Stouffville, ON, where I have a 9x12 Westman and Baker. Have you run across Geoffrey Ryder’s article, “Westman & Baker, Makers” in Devil’s Artisan (11?, 12? - 1984)? His is the only one I know of. In it he says that the company’s only patent was for a brass galley design. Recently I discovered that the platen press design was actually the “new” Gordon design that Geo. P came out with in 1872. Later on they built both cutters and cylinder presses, “the Leverless Monona”, under contract, so my guess is that they may have obtained the Canadian rights for the Gordon. I’d love to follow up some time with you about W&B and other Canadian manufacturers, but I’ve gotta run.
If you go to www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com and type “print industry” into their search engine, and then click on “print industry” again and then “history,” there is a small amount of information which says that Westman & Baker produced Gordon presses from 1874 to 1922. They also produced printers and bookbinders equipment. At Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton, Ontario (southeast of Cambridge), there is a platen press that I did not recognise, maybe because I am from the US originally, but it may be a Westman & Baker. Being close to retirement, I am hoping to volunteer at the Westfield print shop starting in the spring as it is only 10 minutes from my house. Westfield also has a hand press (made by Taylor in New York as I recall), and a Hoe cylinder press (which they do not use). As for me, I have been in letterpress and/or other aspects of printing all my life, as a hobbyist, educator, and currently in industry.
Not sure if anyone is still checking this thread (it’s been a couple of years since the last post) but I’ve just landed an 8 x 12 Westman & Baker from a monastery here in the interior of BC. Has anyone managed to track down serial numbers for these? I’d be curious to find what year this one was made.
I found the following info on Westman and Baker:
“Westman & Baker, printing press manufacturers, 119 Bay Street. This business was established in 1874 by James H. and Samuel R. Baker, both natives of Toronto. They are the only makers of this class of work in Canada, and turn out Gordon presses, Beaver’s cutting machines, Baker’s binding machines, and other work of a similiar kind. Mr. Westman is a native of Toronto, was born in 1848, and learned the trade of , machinist with John Fensom. Mr. Baker was born in Toronto in 1846, and learned his trade with Dickey, Neil & Co.”
From History of Toronto and county of York, Ontario: containing an outline of the history of the Dominion of Canada; a history of the city of Toronto and the county of York, with the townships, towns, general and local statistics; biographical sketches (Google eBook) Charles Pelham Mulvany, Graeme Mercer Adam 1885