getting jiggy

The restoration has begun. I know the are differing opinions bout how far too go in refurbishing a press. I’ve opted for a complete disassemble, to clean and repaint. And to the dismay of some, I will paint her a ridiculously fun color! I am
So excited to be learning so much from reading the posts here. Just wanted to share.

Log in to reply   21 replies so far

It’s your press…paint it any color you like. I’d rather be printing than painting a press, so my press is still in the primer clothing. 20 years after its reconstruction.

The late Robert Merrill would tell everyone that he had a four-color press. It was an oldstyle C&P, simply painted with four different colors. And yes, it was YOUgly.

I must be getting crusty as I approach old age and I tell people that I print with a digital press. It is a Poco and I use the five digits on my left hand and the five digits on my right hand. Calm down - I can hear the groans from here.


Thanks for the support Rick and Arie! Instead of YOUgly, I hope she turns out beYOUtiful. Haha! In the meantime I will be hunting down some missing parts and dreaming of whats to come.

image: Stella Restoration 1.jpg

Stella Restoration 1.jpg

Thanks for the support Rick and Arie! Instead of YOUgly, I hope she turns our beYOUtiful. Haha! In the meantime I will be hunting down some missing parts and dreaming of whats to come.

Thanks for the support Rick! Instead of YOUgly, I hope she turns our beYOUtiful. Haha! In the meantime I will be hunting down some missing parts and dreaming of whats to come.

Elaine! i love it!

I’m with the folks above who said that it was your press…. paint it whatever color you like! By doing so, you’ll only come to love it more… and thus derive even more enjoyment out of using it.

Who CARES what others say about your press colors? If they want presses to be some dull drab color, then they can paint their own presses a dull drab color… and I promise we won’t say anything about it. (OK… maybe we WILL snicker a bit behing their backs…. but we’ll still respect their right to be a fuddy-duddy if they want to be one. Won’t we?)

My first big letterpress was a Kelsey Star 7x11…. that the previous owner had painted a hideous Avodado color with house-paint. So I repainted it a VERY COOL blue….. and highlighted the writing and ornamentation with Gold….. since my high-school colors were Blue and Gold. It was a thing of beauty to behold!

I once saw a Windmill painted with Red Metalflake, and yellow highlights.. it was AWESOME!

Winking… feeling the love! Ill post oics throughout the process.

We here at T and T Press, would rather paint a press than print with it!
When we restore a press for a client, they get to pick the color it get painted! It is delightful to see the transformation, and have some fun too.
Looking forward to your updates.
Tom & Terri
T & T Press Restoration

I’ve seen some crazy colored presses, it’ll be interesting to see what you opt for on this :)


There was a chrome plated one on eBay a couple of years ago.

Like a car, or any other antique; anything but original restoration ruins value drastically. A healthy and happy FYI, as there is a good deal of equity in presses that should be considered.

If you ever go to sale, you may meet someone who wants to buy, yet restore the press to original condition. I’ve looked at presses that were painted odd colors for whatever reason and told the seller “Listen, it’s great, but not original. XXX dollars has to come off the price!”

But, alas, we are traditionalists that have an appreciation for the classics. Keep in mind, the black suit as well as the grey have never once been out of style; however the Purple-pinstrip zoot-suit has seen its day pass.

Onderkast, your version of ‘value’ may differs from others’. I value my press first as a tool, second as an antique.

Every good tool owner maintains their tools. Keeping the press clean of grease and schmutz is part of it, but I think re-painting when it is warranted could be considered proper maintenance.

As for decreasing the value of my things, I don’t care what my stuff is worth to other people, I care about what is worth to me. When people see my stuff, they always ask what it’s worth, and I never have a good answer. A quick reconcilation of the cost of acquisition vs the appraised value of things that I accumulate would make it clear that I’m not in it for the money.

Also, “original” is a relative term. But, I have a fixation with the human element of machines. I think of my press — the tiny newspaper that owned it ran a brief story about its purchase. I think of the nervousness the owner must have had signing away an immense amount of money for the machine, and the excitement of having it arrive, brand new, in a crate at his shop. I think about the excitement he probably felt when he printed his first big run with the press. I look at the welds and think about the frustration and anger that those jambs must have caused, and the relief that must have been felt when it was discovered that a simple weld would put the machine back in production.

To quote my own father: The machines are part of the weave, what really counts are the people, the hardships that they went through, the struggles.”

A machine that is in original, “numbers matching” condition may be nice to look at and worth a few dollars, but if it could talk, it probably wouldn’t have as many stories to tell.

I think Onder makes a valid point for those few presses that have some ornate-ness (is that a word?) about them….. or are of some historical interest, like maybe it was a machine used by Horace Greely. Obviously, we wouldn’t want to repaint a nice old Sigwalt that still has it’s original lettering on it, or Greely’s press used for Artic dispatches.

But…. most of the presses we see nowadays don’t fall into those categories. Most of the old C&Ps, Adanas, Kelseys and so forth are quite common, and are viewed by their owners more as working equipment than collectables. Thus, “originality” is less important to them.

I guess if we had “printing press shows” where judges handed out trophies like they do at car shows then things might be different. But we don’t….. maybe we should.

I’ve owned and sold probably 20 presses through the years…. of all sorts of sizes and styles…. and for the life of me, I can’t recall a single buyer ever fretting over a machine’s color. They DO tend to look at how well done the paintwork is… but not the color.

SO…. my advice still stands: paint your press any color you like….. but do take the time to do a good job.

The son of the original owner sent me a news article about his dad and fellow printers… I could never sell this special gift. I promised the seller I would love this little press and honor his dad the best I could in my care and use of press. Maybe down the road I’ll buy and restore another press, but this one? I dreamed of her, saved for her, and searched high and low for her… I’ve named her! Yes… I’m a newbie, I’m a dreamer, I wear black and grey suits day in and out in the “real” world… But in the world I want to live in, there is color, patterns, vibrancy and the finished product should be as pretty as the tools and materials used to make it.

If it’s ok I want to keep learning from you…

Winking Cat Press, I do tend to look at the paint job, but just because a bad paint job, which is relatively easy to achieve, might hint at a poor restoration or poor upkeep.

A press is a tool, and while its lovely to restore them the paintjob is not really big sticking point when assessing value IMO. Personally, I’d never try to argue the price based on the paint.

I do remember seeing a Chrome-finish powdercoat on a small card-sized press. Not my style, but whatever rocks the boat.

I also have a fascination with the stories that acompany my presses. I got a small lot of printing stuff, including two presses, from an estate and found the old owner’s business card tied up on a galley in one of the boxes and a mag-plate of his company’s logo. I looked up his name and found he had been an architect and published a book about his life and career. Intrigued, the house where I picked the things up was pretty nice and had a lot of personality, I ended up getting the book off Amazon, it was a good read. Still got his card locked up on that galley somewhere.

I may of been misunderstood. My advice was merely as an FYI with no intent to ignite a fire, but to mention that the value can and does change (As with cars, old machine-shop tools, ect) when the color is changed.

I’m not intending to discredit the stories these items hold, quite the contrary. Myself, I come from a long line of Machinists who came from blacksmiths before machinists existed who came from… well, there isn’t much before that. The bevvy of tools I have and inherited all contain hundreds if not thousands of years of experience in them and stories I wish I could hear.

I do however disagree that the paint doesn’t matter. Paint is a finish step that shows the over-all care put into the object. While there isn’t an award bracket, nor do I think there should be for a tool, a coat of paint is a loud indicator to the quality of the steel and mechanism.

It is my opinion, however, that a maintenance and restoration to the original condition is a show of gratitude and an honor to those who made and used these machines before us, as is the thought process behind other antiques, as tradition is very important in both this line of work and to me personally. This is, be it if you use it as a printer or not.

I believe I was misconstrued as someone who only thinks that these machines should be antique museum pieces - quite the contrary, I believe they should be cared for, used and pushed to the limits; and maintained and appreciated - Much like the ancient albeit perfect micrometer I use to measure paper that was my great grandfathers.

Here, I believe the core of the difference in what was taken as an affirmative action on my part when indeed it was an offer of a differing opinion, is that I am and always will be a traditionalist when it comes to mechanism and machines. This is as I was taught by generations of Germans who imbued the idea into me that the stories come out in the work, and the machine wants to be as it was made.

By all means, paint it as you should and would and want and most importantly have fun. But if you should ever go to sale, be aware that there are those very serious buyers who will say “This is going to take work to bring it back to original condition” and please don’t get offended. That is those of us who appreciate the machine for what it is and how it was, it is tradition speaking to us, and calling to us and we must harken the call.

Boy, that got long winded on my part, but man do I love the designs I can pump out with Poly-plates ;)

Onder… I can’t disagree with most of what you say. we do differ on a few details, but they are small and philosophical….. I certainly understand the concept of respecting the past. It’s such diversity of opinion that keeps the discussion (and the field of letterpress) interesting and alive. Thank you.

One thing we do most certainly agree on is that no matter what color you paint your press, you should do it with care.

(I’m still going to paint my next press lime green, though) ;)

You guys are great!

Winking Cat, like the impression itself, every printer is just that slight bit different. :)

Looking forward to seeing the progress!

…. and like mine, often a bit askew!

(perfection is vastly over-rated, anyway)