ANOTHER Junk Shop Rescue! (updated w pics!)

As I write this, I’m covered from head to toe with a combination of rust, dirt, and oil…. like a badge of honor earned while scrubbing up a VERY nice Showcard Model “A” press that I found at a junk shop yesterday. Now looking at it, I’m surprised at how perfect the little press is, and totally SHOCKED that I got it for only $50.

I wasn’t actually looking for another press. My wife and I were on a short road-trip to Hatiesburg, when we decided to stop at a local junk / antique shop. She found a few neat little ceramic cats to buy, but I was more or less just milling around as she shopped. Then all of a sudden I spotted the corner of an interesting machine sticking out from the bottom of a stack of derilict typewriters. It took about 30 minutes to move all of the old Smith-Coronas, IBM Selectrics, and Remmingtons before I could even see what it was.

After it was uncovered, and I couild see that it was a complete Showcard in decent condition. I asked the owner what he wanted for it.

His response: “Want for it? I don’t even know what it is. What will you give me for it?”

“How about $50” I replied… throwing out a low-ball figure, fully expecting him to counter with a much higher number.

“That’s exactly what I was thinkin’ ” he said, and then turned to his son “load this iron thing in this man’s Jeep.” …… and that was that. I paid the man and the press was mine.

We didn’t get home until late last night, but I started cleaning the press early this morning. It was absolutely filthy, but didn’t seem to have any major damage or rust pitting. Now it’s late afternoon. I can lean back and enjoy my good fortune.

Sitting on my work table is a fully functional Showcard 12x15 “Model A” press. The bed still has the etched layout grid. The roller is flawless. The trucks and bearings are perfect….. they spin like new, but have no noticable play. The rails are perfectly flat, and are exactly type-high with the “6 ply” plate installed. The grippers work just fine…. BUt I must confess that I removed the notched “special rails for holding slotted type.” Since I’ll be using it for wood type and cuts, I don’t need them. Even the dark-grey wrinkle finish paint is mostly intact. The paint does have some dings and rubbed spots….. but who cares?

So…. there you have it: a great press rescued from the indignities of languishing under a heap of dead typewriters. NOW, I’m looking for a copy of the original manual and/or catalog….. and for any tips that other Showcard users might have to offer.

To all of those folks looking for a press of their own, all I can say is to keep looking. I seem to run across them every few months or so, in the most unexpected places. I’m sure you will too eventually.

image: press1.jpg


image: press2.jpg


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Due to their simple design I find the Showcard and Line-o-Scribe presses are nice, quick restorations, especially if they have the bed-plate intact. They also pop up frequently in odd places at good prices. Here is a shot of a Line-o-Scribe 1411 that I picked up for $125 a three minute walk from my apartment after seeing a Craigslist posting. I had to make a new plate for it as the old one was crumpled. Powdercoated a steel plate, laser-etched the grid into the finish and cut it to size.

image: lineoscribe1411.jpg


There are photographs of several pages from a Showcard Machine Co. press manual on the longaday press flickr pages at:

David M.

Kimaboe— that’s a nice looking press. What size is it.

David- thanks for the link. I’ll go check it out.

One thing that I’ve learned about my Showcard is that it was made for Showcard Machine Co by Vandercook…. and it’s identical to the Vandercook Model 0 (except for the gripper and notched type set-up. ) That would explain the fine machine work on the bed, and high quality of the carriage.

Winking Cat Press, this is a model 1411, which has a 14x11 bed, with a little extra in both directions :) I sold this one, but a while back I picked up a second 1411 for $40 that is missing the roller, the plan being to fabricate a simple roller for it when I get some spare time.

I’ve also bought two 7x11 models over the years and given them as gifts, a lovely little press for small wood or linocuts.

I have all the Vandercook serial number books for the showcard presses. There is usually no description after each serial number. But, Showcard started making their own presses at some point, or contracted with someone else besides Vandercook. Send me a serial number and I may have a record of it.


Fritz, thanks. Your help is always appreciated. I just sent the serial number to your e-mail.

Could we see some pics please.

PlatenP….. yes you can! I just added a few pics to the main post above.

As you can see, all I’ve done to it is remove the surface rust and dirt. I have not polished the bed….. and I’m not going to. She’ll print just fine like she is.

Also you will notice that I removed the notched “type holder bars” since I don’t have any of the notched type. However, I did carefully pack them away so I can reinstall them later if I ever sell the press.

UPDATE: Fritz tells me that my press’s serial number does not appear in the Vandercook records…. so it may have been made by Showcard themselves, or another vendor. Even so, it’s a great little press.