Parallel Universes

We tend to be comfortable in our little world of letterpress printing, presses, and related esoterica, but there is a parallel universe maybe just down the street that is in complete ignorance of what we all know and take for granted. Case in point is this article featured on the Printing Impressions daily newsletter about a C&P Oldstyle press with Kluge feeder:

Most of us know where the serial number is located on this press, can look it up to determine manufacture date, and maybe even know that before Kluge started making their own presses about 1930/31, that they made feeder conversions for C&P presses during the 1920s. Hopefully this fellow will discover that he is surrounded by letterpress nuts and that maybe one or more of us can help him out. It’s great to see another press saved.


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It’s great to see someone taking the time and effort to save this press. I have a similar C&P, a 1929 12 x 18 with a Kluge feeder that runs like a top although mine has the heavy duty impression arms for die cutting.

Fritz1, yes, there are parallel Universes, what I find strange
about this press is the old style flywheel on a new style frame?

Glad to see people picking up the article and being interested in this project. I am in on the restoration of this beauty, and wanted you all to know that it was successfully delivered to its studio spot this past Thursday, without incident. Actual work on the press started yesterday (Saturday) The people who work in the studio all wanted to convert it back to hand-feed, and the owner of the press had a interested buyer for the motor and Kluge feeder, which we took off. (not without difficulty, I must admit). From its previous nasty garage storage came a box with — I still can’t believe it — a set of three fairly new rollers with trucks, with only one roller showing any damage and that only a small crease where it had set against some sharp edge for who knows how long. The old ink left caked on the rollers, a shockingly bright yellow-green, took some effort with chemicals to remove, but we won in the end. Oh, also in the box of junk we found a chase, in good condition. Wish I had this kind of luck on my projects!! After four of us spent about eight hours on it (a very short amount of time compared to other projects I have tangled with although I have the classic grease-filled scraped knuckles and my body feels like I have been drug around the block behind a Buick) we were able to clean it up and take a proof! Well, “clean” meaning getting enough rust and such off so as to not damage anything while running it, with me crouched down by the flywheel, spinning it by hand to keep things in motion. One person stood where the feed board would be, holding some sheets of paper while another stood to the left of the operator to receive the printed sheets. Somewhat comical, with them standing there with arms outstretched, doing their best to act like boards! Cameras were clicking! Where it rests now is a wonderful space, and the group is going about the task of further restoration (mostly just cleaning) but also has begun the search for a treadle, with hook, and finding the dimensions for the feed and delivery boards. The missing bracket for the feed board is on the list as well as the flywheel’s brake shoe assembly. That, and odds ‘n ends such as quoins and the like. I am trying to help them as much as I can, but any assistance from letterpress lovers would be appreciated!

For a treadle, in working on a couple of C & P 8 x 12 presses a few years back, I purchased new items from Hern. After a bit of fine tuning with a grinder they have performed very well. I am going to contact Hern later today to see if they sell this size of treadle.

Oh, one person of the studio group should have known about the serial number: they must have been all cranked up in the excitement of the acquisition and move. I checked on it first thing upon arrival: D2871, making its production date 1911. This thing certainly dwarfs my 8 x 12! Wow!!

Thank you all for your interest and support.

Print Print Print


Good luck with Hern. They haven’t returned my calls asking for a shipping estimate after three tries.

Why anyone would put a treadle on a C&P larger than an 8x12 is beyond me.

Winfred Reed
Black Diamond Press (Kentucky)

Having run this size (and much larger) press for many years, my opinion of trying to convert it to a foot treadle is misguided at best. If you can produce the parts and get it mounted it will take two men and a mule to get it going and keep it going.

Fairplay Press

Winfred Reed is right, seen many 8x12 presses with a treadle but the 10x15 is just a tad too big, it could be done but I’m sure you won’t be a happy camper.

From the photos shown this looks like a 12 x 18.

Treadle vs motor is an issue created by the environment. When students and “newbies” are running the press a treadle is much safer than a motor for power. The 12x18 C&P in the printing studio at VCU in Richmond did not have a treadle, and we fabricated one out of angle iron and flat plate for it. It works fine, turns the press over easily but slowly and under full control of the printer, cost virtually nothing (some drops from a local ironmonger) and the students print lots of stuff on that press. They aren’t running thousands of copies.


image: CandP Treadle.JPG

CandP Treadle.JPG

If safety is the issue then removing the Kluge feeder was a mistake (beside the issue of maintaining the press’s historical integrity). The Kluge feeder is simple and quick to set up, feeds paper easily, prevents operator fatigue and is much, much safer under all circumstances than sticking a hand into the platen area of the press while running. It is as easy to run one sheet through using the feeder as it is to run 20,000 sheets, generally more accurate in setting the paper into the stops and side guide, and safer for the operator. While primitive by modern standards, there being no safety guards in place, this feeder system is still used on the Kluges manufactured today. Using the appropriate gearing system and/or a speed control on the motor the press can be run at a pace comfortable for any operator without wearing him/her to a nub. Concentrate on the art of the print not on the process.

Dickg: Treadling a 10x15 isn’t really that much more difficult than an 8x12, especially if you’re not doing commercial work. I regularly treadle an 8x12 at home and a 10x15 at the university for runs or 150 to 200, often multicolor work; broadsides, bookmarks and other ephemera. The main difference is the number of revolutions of the flywheel per impression. It takes 4 per impression on the 8x12 and 5 on the 10x15.

The amount of force needed to make the flywheel go around is very similar between the two. Once you’ve got the flywheel spinning, maintaining the motion is very easy.

Arie, have you ever heard of or seen a press with a double treadle?? An old printer I know said he saw one in a shop, the man let him treadle it, he said it was easy but getting off was not fun at first. I’ve been around letterpress for over 50 years and have never seen a double treadle, was wondering if anyone else had heard of one.

No. Haven’t seen one of those. You’d need a custom flywheel shaft with two offsets. Sounds like fun, though.

Never heard of a double treadle but it sounds intriguing. I just can’t fathom having both feet in motion and not having at least one leg grounded to the floor.

It would be great if someone had a picture or illustration of this.


Seems like you’d want a seat for the operator — both starting and stopping would be challenging without some other means of support. But it would even out the balance of exercise for the legs. I’m not sure how you’d get the double-crank shaft either.

(Edit: As soon as I posted that I realized you wouldn’t have to have the double crank, just make the treadles so one pulls the crank down and the other pushes it up, the second one pivoted at its mid-point, while the pulling one remains pivoted conventionally at the far end. Someone try it!)


I think the double treadle idea came along with a 1 pound can of halftone dots. So with the double treadle the operator
is going up and down like a stairmaster and feeding & delivering at the same time? It’ just like the sky hook we used to move a press with. best james

I need one of those pound cans of halftone dots — where can I order them? They should make good leaders for tabular work.


I’ve heard of people pedaling in order to print during WW II; platen presses, but also duplicators.
Those halftone dots; my boss sent me for those as well back in the early 1970s, and the guys at the company that I was sent to handed me a sealed tin, telling me to take it back without shaking otherwise the colors would get mixed up…

An image of the duplicator with bicycle attached.

image: Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 20.49.10.png

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 20.49.10.png

That reminds me of the water-powered A. B. Dick offset duplicator I saw in the shop of an Amish man in PA — with the drive belt from the water turbine coming up through the floor to run the press. And the Mt. Washington Hotel print shop in New Hampshire had a water-powered Golding Art Jobber. Fun stuff!


My friend did see and treadle a double treadle press, its not a joke, I don’t see any advantage to it.

… other than keeping your health in tune through exercise?