Casten Press?

Has anyone heard of a table top press called a Casten? I think that’s the name; I may be spelling it wrong. It’s roughly a 5x8 and original paint is green. I want to say it’s British.

I am asking because I went the history museum today, wandered around, and bumped into some letterpresses. Naturally, I talked with a really nice guy in his 60’s who knew all about letterpress. He mentioned he got this “Casten” press when his brother passed away. I went home to Google it (since we were talking at the museum and he didn’t have any images.) Can’t find anything on it!

Any ideas?

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Not the Craftsmen; I am familiar with that. :) He wrote it down for me on a piece of paper so I could look it up. I am stumped!

Scan that note!

There is a green Caxton lever press in the Briar Press site’s Museum section.

This might be a red herring, but a quick search via Google and a look on Wikipedia reveal that the California-based printmaker Karl Kasten designed a press in the 1970s which was made by the Berglin corporation (an aerospace components manufacturer). See:

An engineering company called Berglin is still in business (, but their site makes no mention of this press. A suppliers page here:

says that the press was being manufactured not by Berglin but by “Applied Arts International” (, but the link to their site is dead.

Further information about the press itself (if indeed this is the press you seek) is hard to find - Google tends only to return the same set of obituaries for Kasten.

Since he was a printmaker, one would presume that this was a press for that purpose - but of course a Kasten may not be a Casten.

David M.

Here it is!
Thanks for the help!

The first part says, “Casten 5x8” (I think!)

The second part says, “Cutter” The cutter is a tabletop cutter that cuts up to 11x17. He said he forgets the name of it but it was made in Massachusetts.

When we were there I remember thinking, “Does he mean Craftsman?” but when he said British—that threw me off.

image: note.jpg


@ David - I think you may be on to something. I checked out your link and found this line: “In the 1970s, he designed a lightweight press (The KB Press) in conjunction with the Berglin Corporation that can now be found in schools and studios around the world.”

I remember Tom (the man I talked with) saying he liked it because it was lightweight. He traveled with it to teach people. I’ll have to do some further Googling on this “KB Press”.


don’t forget this guy is in his mid sixties, he might have got the spelling wrong. You are now on to the best way to find out about letterpress, most museums not only have old equipment but there are old men who used to run these things, have you joined Ladies of Letterpress yet??? google it,

@Dick - I can always count on you to pop in! :)

I thought the same thing. The spelling may be off. I tried Googling it different ways and still nothing. We went to the history museum today with the hopes of running into an older, knowledgeable printer. We were not disappointed. We talked for an hour and barely scratched the surface. Tom invited us down to his shop, which is only 30 minutes from our house! We are going to take him up on the offer, but couldn’t wait until a week or so to research the press. You know how it is! He was excited about it, so I was too. And it sounded like an interesting piece.

I joined Ladies of Letterpress last month. I have found it’s not nearly as active/informational as here, but still a very nice community.

R :)

@The Arm NYC - I just checked out that Caxton. Thanks! Doesn’t look like it’s the one he was describing. He said his had two handles—one on each side. Sounded interesting!

I fear I may be leading you down the wrong path. If you do a search in the Google Books “Advanced Search” at:

for the exact phrase: “kb press”
you find (in addition to various unrelated items) a number of references to the “KB” press in printmaking books and in journals around the time of its introduction. These are all in copyright, so the best you can see is a “snippet view,” but still they can be revealing. In particular, there was a review in a journal (?) or publication of the “World Print Council” in 1979 which says:

“… KB Press, as it is named, has been designed as a table-top model whose body is formed in cast aluminum. Although the press bed is 24” x 37”, its lightweight construction allows two people to handle it with ease,”

So it would seem both to be a printmaking press (where you indicated that the one you saw was a printing press) and very much larger than the 5x8” press you saw.

Which museum did you see it in? The next search trick would be to check Google Images and Flickr to see if anyone has posted travel photos of their trip to that museum (if it allows photos). It’s surprising how useful this kind of search can be (sometimes).

David M.

@ David - The press wasn’t in the museum. It belonged to the employee at the museum, who specializes in letterpress. We got to talking, and he was telling me about one of the many presses he has at home. So I didn’t get to see it, just heard about it. I figured I could just go home and Google it. Wrong! Ha ha.

If the KB press has a bed of 24x37, this is definitely not the one—but still neat to know about.

There is a post on this site by a Charlie F from nov,2, 2007 its in the troubleshooting section ,”Please help me identify this tabletop press” . its marked in its casting as a caxton but my memory is telling me there are other manufacturers allied to the name caxton ,i am sure ive read reference to them in relation to other companies of the day.