Adana 5x3 - how to check age with serial numbers?

Just picked up an Adana five-three at a yard sale! It has three numbers on the side:

British 736368
Patent 736369
Numbers 736717

Wondering which of these will help me find its age? It’s in great condition with new rollers, so I think I might ink it up for fun and then sell it? What’s a good price for these?

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The last patent number (highest number) would certainly give you an idea of the earliest date possible, but patents are not a real guide to production date, since the press can be manufactured for many years without significant changes.

John Henry

On eight-fives the press number is under the bail that holds the platen packing paper down. There are very knowledgeable folk in the British Printing Society who could probably assist with dating it if you approached them.

Bob Richardson of BPS has written extensively on Adana history. In the appendix to his book “The Adana Connection” (BPS, London, 1997, p.96 he states that the five-three was manufactured from April 1956 to the mid 1980s.


Lisa_N, Good morning or Good evening, according to which side of the international date line you are on! I am in U.K. a few degrees West of Greenwich? Greenwich Observatory, Not Greenwich Village and yes I have Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood, *Greenwich Village, Folk song salesman* on 45 R.P.M. 7” single, (original) still in/on my Juke box, “SEBURG* out of Chicago, 45 years ago, and still rolling.

I have 2, 5 x 3,s in front of me now, (early Sunday Morn) Very sparse, all I can offer is:- my 2 have the same numbers exactly, cast in/on the rear R/H side,? I trawled some time ago and only established, as Jhenry implies, the production run lasted for many years, I did just establish that my 2 were at least 10 years apart in manufacture, proving nothing admittedley, sorry, but if you can dismount yours from the normal Plinth/Baseboard, (normally, ex dispatch 2 Wood screws,!!) >>Right up under the base just forward of the screw holes is cast in, what appears to be a figure *1* or cap *L* plus,UNDER the operating handle, where your index finger would naturally rest , is stamped, in both cases, 53`53, (pure guess at any significance.) One more possible clue, may help, stamped in, NOT cast in, on the left side of the platen, unfortunately mixed up by Myself, M/c by M/c. possible serial numbers H 10147 & L 6574 can not tell which platen cam from which M/c, in the time sequence, but irrelevant, all apparently interchangeable.

If you were to contact , [email protected] or They are our Adana specialists, if supplied with the few details as above, your own and mine may bring a little result, *Roy* for that be He, is quite helpful. Numbers may help Roy.
And I swear, that my efforts, will not in any way, influence the cost of MY next order to Caslon/Adana. Good Luck. Mick?

P.S. Your own *Tarheel Roller & Brayer Company* out of Clemmons N.C. are very helpful, and I believe have some archive info on Adana,s but perhaps only from the point of view of recovering rollers, which is what they kindly helped me with 2/3 years since. Maybe worth a try.!! .

All serial number records were destroyed by Adana when the company was purchased by Caslon circa 1987. This was particularly valuable data, since there were three basic models of the “Eight-Five” alone, plus some eight of so variants of that machine. Serial numbers were logged with date of manufacture and sale and meticulous records were maintained. Quite why Adana decided to scrap this information is unknown.

The serial number for the “Five-Three” press can usually (but not always) be found stamped into the left-hand edge of the platen. It will consist of one letter followed by three or four digits. My oldest “Five-Three” is L7452 and dates from October 1970. I have four other “Five-Three” presses in my collection of 35 Adana machines but do not have the serial numbers to hand. They are largely irrelevant as I do not have dates of manufacture for them.

Caslon routinely restore and remanufacture “Five-Three” machines and may have been able to build up some kind of serial number database. Ask Roy Caslon - he is an Adana enthusiast and his company provides superb support to letterpress enthusiasts.

By the way, the patent numbers on Adana products are often nothing more than window-dressing. The three you mention all relate to the “Eight-Five”, rather than the “Five-Three” and pre-date the launch of the latter. 736368 relates to the pawl mechanism for the revolving ink disk; 736369 relates to the way the platen is attached to the main frame (to eliminate any sideways movement); and 737717 is a patent for the dual diameter runners produced for all Adana presses after April 1953.

Pre-war presses used the phrase “Patent Applied For” long after such applications were rejected.

Adana, 8 x 5,s little extra info. Maybe useful, maybe not.?
4 Adana 8 x 5,s on sight at time of posting, *** Footnote.!

Serial numbers in 2 different formats, i.e. first 2 @ C 6480, & C 10717, stamped into the return and top of the Platen proper, dead centre, under the Bale arm, (top) different format at the bottom of Platen.!!
2 others D 1118, & D 1605, but with the serial numbers stamped into small brass plate(s) situate left side, when facing the M/c,s.
Some differences, the 2 numbered @ C6480 & C10717 have the roller Carriages carried on 2 Transverse shafts, with a single roller hook, either side, terminating in a floating saddle for 2 rollers.!!
Akin to the H.S.2 & the 5 x 3. ??

The 2 M/c,s numbered D 1118 & D 1605, have a different system. The roller carriage, (singular) is a very graceful, business like, one piece unit, resembling a giant *M* with 2 independent hooks, per side. By comparison, at One piece, Only, seemingly impossible for the rollers to become *out of sync*.
Speculation not fact? as is the progression, being *C* as the precursor to *D* in the production run, maybe complete Red Herring, Interested to know.

*** Selling on (2) 8 x 5,s only to finance purchase of 14 Point, Baskerville Matrix Case169/312, to complete the range.