Good day all. I am a member of a small town museum board who has been asked to research if and how our old press can be restored. I am looking for advise as to where to start and direction to research material.
The plate on the side of the machine says it is from the Bremner Machine Co
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Where are you located?
What sort of condition is the press in?
Do you have photos of the press?
Hello Lammy,I am in Manitoba Canada. The machine looks to me to be in bad condition. It is a large machine. Without a tape measure I would guess at 8’ long by 6’wide.
I will try to add the pictures I do have and will get more to give you the best look I can at the press and every thing that accompanies it. It was used to print the local news paper for years and as I understand it, shortly after the paper shut down, every thing was moved as it sat.
The Harrild company were builders of presses in England — not sure about dates, but they made Albion hand presses in the 19th century and I believe other kinds as well. It could be that the Bremner was a design by a patentee who had Harrild build it for him. Given that the press is in Canada I would guess that England would be the most likely source for it after the USA, and I have never heard of either the Bremner press nor a company with those names operating in the US.
You will need to clean the melted roller goo off the bed or ink table, whatever that is under the rollers. Be sure to save the rollers if you think of restoring the press, as the cores may still be useable, or can serve as patterns for new ones. Unless the press is badly rusted from being exposed to rain and condensation, it should be possible to clean it up and make it possible for it to run again. Overall photos of the press will also help in assessing its condition.
Here are some more photos of the press and other things that came with it as well as a smaller press that came with the whole works.
Any suggestions as to where I might look for expertise and advice would be greatly appreciated.
that typesetting machine is a linograph, they competed with linotype and intertype, not many of these survived, they were smaller and took smaller mats than the linotypes.
I have come to the conclusion that I am sorely lacking in the language of printing. I will have to find some sort of glossary.
The Linograph is indeed a prize for an historical collection to have. The Linograph was produced in Davenport, Iowa, and was being marketed to weekly papers who had limited funds as well as limited needs.
The company didn’t last long, and the examples in existence at this point as scarcer than hens teeth (to use a good Iowa expression).
SEDYNNEL, this is more than what you need but it’s a good starting point. Many many resources here:
Also do a search for letterpress glossary and letterpress terminology.
Nice stuff you’ve got there, and I’m not too familiar with most of it, particularly the Bremner press but I believe that Miller and Richards was an Irish type foundry firm.
Here are previous discussions on Westman & Baker:
This post has been heavily edited because I thought at first glance it was a Chandler & Price. It’s not. This is the first I’ve ever heard of Westman & Baker.
 Correction: Miller and Richards was in Edinburgh, Scotland…not Irish.
Thank you David, that is a wealth of information and now I see you have added some links on previous discussions. Should keep me busy for a while.
Further research has put me in touch with a local, ( in this province ) gentleman who works with and operates a press similar to ours that is in running condition. I hope to meet with him in the near future.
Thank you all for your input thus far. I am working my way through as much relevant reading as I can muster and hope to have some decent information in my report to my fellow board members when next we meet.
Thank you both, John and Dick for the information regarding the linograph. I went back to have a closer look at it after your comments and it looks like quite an intimidating machine.
Where in Manitoba are you, Leonard? I’m from Winnipeg (but no longer live there.) Crystal City in southwestern Manitoba maintains (I think) a printing museum but with smaller scale equipment—unless this IS the Crystal City museum I’ve heard about.
My uncle sits on the board at the museum, and if you have any questions for him as to how they keep their machinery going, who they deal with, resources, etc, I could put you in touch.
There is one working Linotype in Winnipeg I know of, and I don’t mean ‘working’ as in ‘functional,’ I mean that it’s in almost daily use in a print shop. I don’t know what you would have to do to convince the operator to come out (he’s getting on in years) but he could be helpful if you want to get the linograph up and running and have questions on the finer points of its operation.
you should call Larry Raid from the linotype school in Denmark, Iowa, he has a working linograph machine, the machines were made not too far from where he lives. Also in Ontario you have Don Black, he has forgotten more about letterpress than most of us will ever know, he has a wealth of knowledge about old letterpress stuff. good luck.
Being in Canada your best source for help is most likely going to be Don Black Linecasting. I don’t know how close or far he is however.
I wish I was closer, I’d be there every chance I could to help out!
This may have great potential for a kick starter type funding project as well.
Don Black is about 2500km from Manitoba at the closest, could be a lot father depending on where in Manitoba.
As far as your Linograph is concerned, you should contact Jim Daggs. He runs the Ackley Publishing Company in Ackley, Iowa, and is deeply conversant in the intricacies of linecasters of all kinds. In 2009, he reprinted much of the surviving Linograph literature (there isn’t much). You can contact him through his company, at:
It is indeed a rare machine, and a treasure for your museum.
David M. MacMillan
In James Moran’s “Printing Presses: History and development from the Fifteenth Century to Modern Times” the Bremner is mentioned and seems to indicate that it is a type of Wharfedale machine and the Bremner Machine Co. was at Otley which is in West Yorkshire near Leeds:
Paul/.modernman, I am about a half an hour North of Brandon and also lived in Winnipeg for much of my life.
I was able to contact a Bill Sandercock in Crystal City. His name was featured on the web page for the town. Is he your uncle? He was able to put me in touch with the gentleman who runs the machine when the tours come through. We are scheduled to meet this afternoon and I anticipate a windfall of information.
You mentioned a working Linotype in Winnipeg, would you know the location? The board may just have to approve expenses on a fact finding road trip.
Regards and thanks
Lammy, thank you for heading me in the direction of Don Blacks website. I had a look at the videos available and learned a pile already.
David J. Thanks for the information Re: James Moran’s book. I have added it to my library for reference.
David M. I have earmarked the Ackley site for future reference. I suspect if there is an operation manual for the machine, we will be looking to obtain one.
Also, I had a look at your website and look forward to a more in depth look in the near future.
Leonard, Bill isn’t my uncle, but let me know if you end up having any trouble meeting up with the gent from their museum, maybe I could help out if Bill can’t, but it sounds like you’ll be ok.
The linotype is at a small print shop called Shaw Printing. it’s at 149 Water ave (although it looks like the city changed the name of that street to William Stephenson Way.) right next to the baseball stadium. I’ve called to get a tour and they just said to come down whenever, the operator likes showing it off.
really really hope you can get the big press going-Typoretum in Uk have a working “Wharfedale” press and have posted about it etc and got it going with expert help, Amberley museum printshop also in UK, look up dry ice cleaning on youtube for getting all the crud off…………….
Thanks Jonathan, I did look into dry-ice blasting on Youtube as you suggested and have sent a preliminary fact finding e-mail off to a local company who does this sort of thing.
I passed on a link to this thread to Jim Daggs, and he responded that the Linograph seems to be a Model 1, from the late ‘teens or early 1920s.
Although the Linograph is not Linotype-compatible, it is similar in many respects to a Linotype or Intertype. If you found someone locally who was experienced with Linotypes or Intertypes, that experience would go a long way toward helping with your Linograph.
To SEYDNNEL and others
What a wonderful thing this is! What a wonderful exchange of helpful information! Thanks Briar Press!
In the pic showing a large printing press, there is a flat belt hanging down on the side of the machine; partially behind the belt is what looks like the mould-wheel from a line-casting machine.
Alan, for an old guy your eyesight is pretty good, i thought those were just parts off the press but i think you are right.
Well! Was I right about him being a windfall of information.
I had the great fortune to meet up with the gentleman who is responsible for running the press at the Crystal City Printing Museum.
As it turns out, it appears we have all we need to run a small printing outfit. I am told with relatively little effort the press can be cleaned up and readied for use.
The large machine will require the most work with the rollers being in the shape they are and the bed requiring a good polishing.
From this point on it is a matter of organizing the place, cleaning the machinery, and start the search for funding.
I am going to be making a road trip in September to visit the Museum in Crystal city as well as Shaw Printing in Winnipeg.
For now we will begin the process of cataloging what we have and organizing. Then we will get the smaller press working first for the sake of demonstration.
Thank you all for the information so far. I have so much to look at and so much to learn.