Which letterpress?

Which letterpress would suit a beginner?

A stupid question maybe, but it still needs an answer.

I’m looking to get my hands on a nice letterpress that I can use with ease and maintain as well. I’ve just finished university studying Graphic Information Design and think it might be something nice and productive to do over the summer.

Would I be wrong in thinking perhaps a nice Kelsey 3x5 or Adana 8x5 would be easy to keep clean whilst learning the techniques.

Cheers. Zind

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The Kelsey 3x5 is a very small press, you might want to go for something a bit larger or you risk outgrowing your press fast.

I’d say that both the Adana and Kelsey 5x8 models would be suited for you to learn the techniques of printing on a platen press. If you find one at a good price, most people agree that a C&P Pilot (6.5x10”) is a superior press and design, sturdier and a lot heavier.

Do your research before buying, what do you plan on printing, what are your needs…


I think your best bet is to visit someone or someplace that has a range or presses for you to see and look at. Plus a little instruction wouldn’t be a bad thing. Dick G often welcomes people to his shop, Although he seems to be more inviting the farther people live from him. Letterpress Things in Chicopee Mass is a great place to go and see the options. John Barrett (the owner) is very helpful and can get you started in a very addicting hobby. Im sure where ever you live there is someone around running a press that would be happy to show you a press or four.

nmm222, nobody lives near me, i like to have visitors to my shop, only 8 or 10 have come by, but thats ok, anyone coming to see me has to pass by either John Falstrom or Letterpress Things, or if they come from the north they pass the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA. Dick G.

I’ve been using the Adana 8x5for a couple of years and they are very good little presses. We bought ours on Ebay (UK). The C&P pilots would be nice but all seem overpriced at the moment. We use our Adana for printing with type and with Linocuts. We make cards for sale at markets and take the press with us. Its great to share the printing experience with others. Back in the studio we do have larger presses but the Adana is safe, quiet and fun!
Happy printing

Cheers Kimaboe that sounds good as I don’t want to outgrow my press within a few weeks if not days.

I shall start researching into the C&P Pilot as I was unaware of the difference between the Pilot and Kelsey in weight and sturdiness. I have managed to get my hands on a Kelsey manual as well which gives me some idea to the mechanics of its design.

The choice will between the two. After more research!

I was hoping to do some wedding invites for a friend. Something different compared to horrible computer print out invites.

image: KM.jpg


Thanks mmm222 I’m trying to find somewhere in Germany that has this kind of topic on show in there museum, no luck so far. I also managed to get a manual to research into which is on the bottom of my other post reply.

I will look into Dick G and John Barrett as i’m getting nowhere here aha ha.

Also where about’s are you located dickg I would like to see if I could visit you at some stage? As seeing these machines beside a professional would be very helpful.

Lasimp I keep looking on E-bay hoping to obtain one for the right price, I see a lot more Adana’s on there than actual Kelsey press prints.

Is there any reason for that?

I keep on going to german markets hoping I will spot one in the old barns, but nothing yet. I think that’s amazing that you take the press with you and getting people involved, especially the young generation such as myself.

In reference to the manual I was allowed to download it from a E-bay bidder. For anyone who is interested.



Here are a couple of links you may find interesting to read regarding buying your first press written by knowledgeable printers. Everyone on this and every other letterpress site knows I would try to steer you to one manufacturer, (Golding) so you shouldn’t listen to just me. That said, I will offer this personal opinion/observation. C & P Pilots are over priced right now. They are good presses, but, not as good as the price difference would suggest. I saw a 6 x 9 Sigwalt Ideal (clone of a Golding Official) go for $765 on Ebay recently and there are Pilots on now that range up over $3000. The Sigwalt is more difficult to find, but, every bit as good or better than the Pilot. Don’t box yourself in to looking for just two brands. Remain more open as there are many really good lesser known brands that come up and are excellent presses with less price pressure. I just purchased a Cooks Victor 6 x 9 for $650 on Ebay. They are also harder to find and lesser known, but, highly regarded as superior to the Pilot. If in your search you find a brand that hasn’t been mentioned, come back to this community and ask about it. Many will offer helpful insight to assist you. I doubt you could find a press that someone couldn’t offer advice on. Please Pilot owners, I have nothing against your Pilot. I just purchased one to restore and sell. I just think they are not as good as the current prices they are bringing would suggest.




Zind, you are in Germany, i think the Adna press is more popular over in England and may be easier to find in Germany. My wife goes to yard sales and flea markets and recently bought a press for $2.00, so they are out there but you have to look for a while. There is someone on this list that is from Germany (jens, i think, can’t remember his full name) you can do a search in the yellow pages on this site and i’m sure he’ll come up. If you get to the USA look us up, That old guy John Falstrom is in Connecticut, John Barrett (also an old guy) is in Chicopee, Massachusetts, I’m in Hanson, Massachusetts (the younger guy) and you have the museum of printing in North Andover, Massachusetts, John Barrett runs letterpress Things, he carries small presses and all the tools and things you need to get started. Shipping things from the USA might be expensive, but maybe worth looking into, be careful of John Falstrom, he will try to sell you a Golding Press, he restores them and you would think his presses were brand new, he does some great work. Dick G.

That’s strange as I was looking at a Cook’s victor on flickrr yesterday, I love the handles and frame work on that press.

I don’t know much about the print quality, but I imagine its superb!

I’ll check your links out right away, and thank you for letter me know about C&P pilot press’s being over priced. I think it may be best if I do come across a press that I check prices with you as your more experienced in the field then me. If that’s okay?

This might be a big question, but I do like the idea of restoring a press to a nice condition, but in terms of restoring would it be very costly ? and tricky?

I was just wondering as If I restore my first press it will be more memorable and personal for me.

I’ll have a more open perspective for all press’s.

Thank you John Falstrom

Zind, if you are in Germany there are several museums of printing there, and many knowledgeable volunteers at them who could both answer your questions and help you find a suitable press. I’d suggest checking online for German printing museums and go visit.


I will be working in England soon as I’ve just graduated. But at the moment I’m in Germany for my summer, the only downside is that I’m limited when it comes to looking for a

Although I found a strange box used for some sort of screen print or hand press with a roller, not sure what to make of it. I’ll have to get some photos up and see if any of you can identify it.

I do like Adana, but find myself being drawn to the Kelsey, but I don’t see so many other makers on E-bay unfortunately.

$2 for a press sounds like the ultimate bargain I think your wife has done extremely well!! I’ll have a search through the directory and see if I can find Jens, shouldn’t be too hard. Aha younger guy, I’ll need to set my self a tour plan to visit, maybe not this summer but next would be quite interesting and fun.

I think its getting to the point that I might have to get a press from abroad, Although I hear that some press’s get damage a lot due to them being cast iron they can shatter quite easily if not packed with care.

If I was to get a press from abroad what type of packaging would be advised? As I would hate to spend a lot of money only to get bits of a press ha ha.

Thanks again dickg

Cheers bob,

I’ve managed to find three museums near me so far one being the Gutenberg museum.

I’ll be travelling with my dad on the weekend I think. I’ll put some pictures up, if allowed to take any at the museum.

We had a some museum in our town but it may be shut due to restoration of the building, shame..

Try to do some research on German eBay. Good keyword could be tiegel, boston, druckpresse, hogenforst, kahle, heidseick, etc. At the moment a search on boston tiegel gives three hints.
Gott grüß die Kunst
Jens from Denmark :-)

Cheers bogtrykkeren,

My dad can speak german fluently, but only suggested one of those words druckpresse, he’s not as interested unless its about ww2 military gear ha ha.

I’ll give it a search now as i’m on E-bay and currently reading JF links.

Boston press print I think, looks fair in condition and I could see this as an ideal starting press for myself.

Don’t think i’ll out grow this in a week or two ah ha.

One question though would this be classed as a high-end lever press/tabletop platen??

image: Screen shot 2011-08-19 at 17.24.23.jpg

Screen shot 2011-08-19 at 17.24.23.jpg

Here you can find 2 platen presses for sale.


The press in the picture can be used as a table top. Manufacturers often sold the bases with them. Check out the museum in Leipzig, they’ve got plenty of them.

Those Boston presses looks like some solid beasts, I haven’t seen many of that design pop up here in the US, maybe I’ll search one out once I end up back in Europe.


Hi thomas,

Thank you for going through the trouble of finding me the two press link, much appreciated. I’ll have a look and see! :)

Another museum, i’m creating a good list now for a weekend trip around germany.

Does it cost that much to replace a base for a table top press?! If you know.


Kimaboe I was thinking along the same lines! Thought that it looks nice and being a boston press, I don’t see many of them on sale apart from this one.

Might ask for information about it.