And you thought Vandercooks were getting to be expensive…

29,000 dollars in the ad copy (BIN button says like, 24,900)

Oh, but it’s a reproduction.

Anyone care to venture a guess as to what something like this would ACTUALLY cost to make? Versus the pricing? Devils advocate or otherwise, that is- I mean, I know a lot of the traditional woodcrafting techniques for this are not common, but…….

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The seller has been listing that press on eBay for several years. It was $39,000 last time I saw it. The reproductions made by Pratt in Utah required imported wood beams, I’ve been told. They are a sight to behold, and probably cost as much as this one is now asking. You just can’t get cured hardwood beams that size from The Home Depot, so it probably wouldn’t be cheap to build.

Good point- I was certainly NOT suggesting any DIY home depot customer could throw one together.

Materials and the techniques used aren’t common, that’s for sure.

However, one can find older wood from a few of the reclaimed lumber companies here in New York City- as buildings are demolished and actually recycled a bit more these days, due to realizations about the value of the materials we would have just smashed with a wrecking ball and hauled away maybe at some point.
I don’t know if they’d be the grade/type to be suitable for this application, but I’d love to take a look at the way one of these works in person someday.

Someone buy it and establish a museum I can easily visit?

If you are interested in the process of building a replica Gutenberg press then you will likely appreciate the Stephen Fry documentary The Machine That Made Us.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

And if you pay attention to the documentary, you will learn that all Gutenberg “replicas” are speculative - since no one knows what it really looked like.

Actually, after much research, I found a photo of the type of press he likely used.

Here it is:

image: comboKit.jpeg


Then of course there are meticulously detailed plans for a common press published by Elizabeth Harrison:



I think that’s Elizabeth Harris. She was the curator of the graphic arts collection in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.


Harris, Elizabeth and Clinton Sisson. _The Common Press: Being a Record, Description & Delineation of the Early Eighteenth-Century Handpress in the Smithsonian Institution_. Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1978.

ISBN: 0-87923-211-0
LCCN: 77-79005.

The title page further notes that the “History & Documentation of the Press” are by Elizabeth Harris and that the “Drawings & Advice on Construction” are by Clinton Sisson.

It was issued in a boxed two-“volume” set, where the first volume is a conventional book (218x279mm, 62pp) but the second “volume” is a folder with eight large-format dimensioned drawings.

Book design by Stephen Harvard, printing by The Stinehour Press (in an edition of 2,000). Set in Monotype Bell.

It is, as oprion says, meticulously detailed. Rather remarkably, secondhand copies are still relatively affordable.

David M.