Carey Bros. & Grevemeyer, Philadelphia Book Binding Press

I just bought a cast iron nipping press that had the above name written in gold lettering across the front. I could find a little information about the company Carey Bros. & Grevemeyer, that they were “stationers” selling books as well as wallpaper in the late 1800s. Has anyone heard of this company? The person I bought the press from thought it was made in the 1940s. I paid $300. It is in good shape with un-warped 9 7/8” x 14 7/8” platen. I planned to use it as a nipping press but now that I know it was probably made in the late 1800’s when Carey Bros. etc were in the book business, I wonder if it has more value than the seller thought?

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There are numerous past threads about nipping/copying presses on this site. Bascially there were a plethora of different manufacturers because just about every business such as banks, accountants or law firms needed to have copies of their documents. There were perhaps tens of thousands of this style press floating around at the end of the 19th century. Almost all of them of unknown (no makers mark) origin.

Along with maybe 9 common sized ones, I also have an oversized one (a little bigger than yours) that has the name Rand McNally & Company, Chicago written in a gold backslant cursive style on it. Rand McNally didn’t make these presses, it was simply one that they owned and whoever made it then lettered their name on it when they where doing the additional stripping, etc.

There is also a book dedicated to this subject and I don;t recall the name of it right now.


Look at the copy presses in the Museum portion of this site to see some of the variety of style of this basic mechanism. I think I have around ten and they are all different.

>There is also a book dedicated to this subject

Rhodes, Barbara and William Wells Streeter. _Before Photocopying: The Art & History of Mechanical Copying, 1780-1938. New Castle, DE & Northampton, MA: Oak Knoll Press & Heraldry Bindery, 1999. ISBN: 1-884718-61-2.

It bears a sub-subtitle “A Book in Two Parts” (and in its internal structure it is), but it is a single volume.

It is very good, and, regrettably, is also now just as expensive as the letter copying press you just bought. The maker of your press does not appear in its index.

David M.


Thank you very much for your helpful responses. It is interesting to know that there were so many out there at one time without a manufacturer’s mark.

I have been trying to date the press by records of when Carey Bros & Grevemeyer were in business. I did assume that they were not the manufacturers of the press itself but, as in the case of Rand McNally, they had their company name painted on the presses they used. Carey Bros & Grevemeyer started out as a bindery of blank books in about 1880, later producing wallpaper as well. The wallpaper business failed during WWI but I cannot find any information about Carey Bros & Grevemeyer continuing as a book bindery thereafter. They made loans to the paper company they used and apparently that company failed causing the fall of Carey Bros & Grevemeyer in all its branches. But I could be wrong about the fall of all branches.

I will see if I can find a copy of the book you suggested. The fact that Rick has so many of these tells me that I might have overpaid but, oh well. I can’t tell if Art Nouveau hasn’t influenced manufacturing very much yet (1880s), or the style is way past the influence of Art Nouveau (1940s when Carey Bros & Grevemeyer may or may not have been in existence).

Here is another question, though: There are screw holes on the underside of the top platen. That can’t be how it was originally used, is it? I don’t intend to print with it and will place a board or sheet metal between the book and the upper platen so there will be no problem with uneven pressing. Weren’t those screw holes filled in originally? How can they be filled now?

Thanks for your help,

I have no idea what the screw holes would be about. Your copy press is pretty much the common standard size. It took me quite a few years to come across my first one, so I kept my eyes open and started grabbing them whenever I could them for reasonable prices. I think most of mine were acquired in the $30 range - but that was a LONG time ago. I did pay $50 for the large Rand McNally one (almost too heavy for a single person to lift!).

The price you paid is probably not out of line in today’s world. The more ornamentation/decals/stripping the more valuable they are. I have some that were spray painted at one time so they are not a “cool” as the ones with the original finish. I use mine often when I am folding things. Once I have a pile of folded pieces I simply slip them into these presses (With a sheet of clean paper on the top and bottom) and screw down the platen as tight as possible. This puts the big squeeze on the folds - AND - if you can leave the stack in there overnight for instance - the “memory” of the folded fibers will tend to keep the pieces in the tightly folded position when removed.

Since you can only put a fairly short height of material into these presses, I can have quite a few of these presses squeezing a folded job all at the same time.


I’ve found references online to Carey Bros. & Gravemeyer being in business in Philadelphia in the late 1880s and 1890s. They may have been active before and after that. If you want to know how long they were in business, the way to find out is to go through Philadelphia business directories, working backward from 1885 and forward from 1897. Tedious, but that’s the only way.