Learning and buying a letterpress in Sydney…am I dreaming?

Hi all,

I’m basically after any advice or info you guys can give me on getting started with letterpress in Australia.

I know there are some earlier posts on these but most are from some time ago and presses seem to be getting fewer and further between.

I’ve been looking at refurbished adana 8x5’s overseas but the cost of shipping is huge and I’m fairly dubious about whether the press would arrive in one piece!

Does anyone have any advice on places to look for tabletop presses (I don’t mind if they need some work). Any advice on the most promising models for a begginner would be great too. It seems like C&P presses are the most common in oz from reading posts on here…would they be on ok option for a complete novice?

Also, how realistic is it to think I’ll be able to research/teach myself through trial and error? Ultimately I want to print with photopolymer plates of my own designs.

Any info would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

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Hi Liz

I was also considering purchasing an Adana overseas and was a bit put off by the cost of transport. Then I chanced across an 1887 Alexandra hand press (bed 18.5 x 28 inches). My immediate problem is transporting the magnificent beast and two cabinets of type from its present location to where I live (1600 kilometers away). The cost and logistics of the Adana have paled compared to transporting two tons of equipment.

But be that as it may, I am pretty much a novice like yourself and face a steep learning curve. I am intending to do fairly traditional work and realise that it will most likely take some years before anything worth while comes off my press. I am also interested in photopolymer plates, but know very little about them and where to have them made. Letterpress supplies in Australia are also a bit of a mystery to me.

I have obtained a copy of Rummond’s “Printing on the Iron Handpress” and am feeling a little daunted, but I imagine that it is a matter of applying received wisdom with lots of practice and improvisation. Unfortunately letterpress enthusiasts in Australia seem few and far between, especially in Central Queensland.

Advice from any local practitioners would be appreciated.


Hi Liz,

From Sydney you are well placed to start your training with William Amer of Rockley. Approachable, intelligent, well-informed and generous with his experience.

Too, there is a museum at Penrith I believe —-William is associated with this but I have not seen it.

In Melbourne, the Melbourne Museum of Printing is well equipped, offers two day courses and will be moving to new and much improved premises in February.

As to finding available presses I can only offer the advice that persistence eventually pays off.

Best of luck.


Thankyou Bruce, for your reference. Are you he who recently bought the Pilot styled press from me?
Classes start again in February 2011, and I’m pleased to say there is quite a bit of interest.
Since closing for Christmas and New Year, I’ve been able to spend much time and energy in moving my studio from a dedicate room in my 1870’s, house which was originally shops for tradesmen, way back then, to a rebuilt stable high on a rise, overlooking aspects of Rockley. Talk about authentic, I reason that this would be the way it was 150 years ago at Rockley.
I find that I do have a 5x8 Adana for sale, a consequence of the moving. It has new rollers and is in excellent working condition, several chases, and as with all my sales, it comes with basic hand composing equipment, quoins etc and in this case a couple of type cases. Sensible offers are being accepted for this.
William Amer of Rockley, NSW, near Bathurst

I am from Boston and have always had a passion for beautiful stationery. Let me clarify, I’m a lover of bespoke but I am not an artist. Does anyone know someplace to learn letterpress here in Boston? Am I being over zealous to think I could learn this skill and have my own business and it not take years?

To Liz in Queensland and Derek in Sydney
several people have made the trek from there, even way above Brisbane; while a long way, they say it was worth the effort.
Visit my website www.willamer.com.au
and press the “letterpress” button. Looking forward to hearing from you both.
William of Rockley, NSW

FYI, there is currently also an Adana 3x5 for sale from QLD, listed on eBay. Search item number 160523627675.

Thanks to everyone for the great advice and ref’s. I’ve sent you a message William. I’m actually in Sydney (not sure why i’m coming up as QLD!) so possibly not far from you…checking out your website now.

Many Thanks,

Liz, your story sound much like another enquirer, Anne.
I haven’t got your email yet.
Try [email protected]