Alexandra Press ID and History Pat 1383-1879

Hi Briar Press Community
This is my first post so please bear with me on this.
I have acquired an Alexandra Printing Press patent number 1383 dated 1879, I would like to know if there is any way of finding out the history of this press.
This press has come from the part of Essex England that was hugely important in the arts and crafts movement of the late 19th century.
1, Is there a register of purchasers on the patent no,s

2, It looks like the makers name has been removed although I am told it is F.T.Wimble but this press is in the UK not Australia.

3, As you can see from the photo,s this is a large press the printing plate size is 36” x 23 1/2” if this helps it has also been standing for over 80 or so years so in need of a refurbishment but does still have the original paint, the only thing I can see missing is it looks like something would have held the Prince of Wales feathers on the top of the press.

Any information or help with this would be much appreciated

Mark Hughes
Essex England

[email protected]

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Hello Mark

I have an 1887 Alexandra in Australia. Number 1792 made by William Notting of Farringdon Rd, London. Yours has the same WN monogram so I imagine it is Notting’s name that has been cut out. There is a Wimble branded Alexandra in Australia, but as Wimble wasn’t a press manufacturer I doubt it was made by them here. Wimble was Notting’s agent in Australia so they were probably produced in London and branded for sale here.

Looks like you are missing the bar that tensions the helical spring and raises the platen after each impression. The bar also appears to be snapped off.

I’m not sure of the history of the Alexandra presses. I have seen them also branded “Improved Albion”. Believe they were named in honour of Princess Alexandra, wife of Edward the Price of Wales, hence the feathers. I think your number is a serial number, rather than a patent number. On my press the number 1792 is also stamped onto the front of the piston, along with the year 1887.

My platen is the same width as yours, but is about 28 or 29 inches long. Yours seems to be an unusually elongated version. Perhaps for a particular purpose?

Best of luck getting it all working. They are wonderful to use.

Derek Lamb

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William Notting 1877 advert showing the address

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Interestingly, Mark’s press has, in place of the WN monogram, a FTW Co monogram on the top center of the head. Is there any evidence that Wimble sold presses in Britain, or only in Australia and other colonies? I was not aware of the connection of Wimble to Notting — makes perfect sense of the details on Mark’s press, which are near duplicates of those on the Notting Alexandra press owned by Nick Howard.


The Alexandra Press is essentially an Albion style press but more decorative. Having shifted a few of these I suspect they were made in one foundry and badge engineered like 60s Austins and Morrises.
I have also seen an Albion press as decorative as this and also as large.
The manufacturers names and dates were often obliterated by printers engineers so new clients did not know how old their remanufactured or resold press was. This is quite common in hand presses.
As far as I know there isnt any way of discovering when a press was sold and who too unless original ledgers are in someones keeping. Most records like this were lost in the Blitzes of WW2.
As for completeness, refer to the pictures Derek has posted. Apart from the obvious (bar being snapped and wooden handle missing, an easy repair) the spring that supports the piston and its associated pieces seem to be missing from your pics.
Essentially a threaded O ring sits inside a spring inside the sheaf of feathers atop the press. The main pin through the piston goes through this to enable descent of the platen when the bar is pulled and the chill wedge raises to give pressure. This spring returns the platen back up. Annoying if you dont have it but again a relatively straightforward fab and repair.
Any other info, please contact me….

Alexandra Press, congratulations!, 1st thing get the platen off the rails and on to a pallet, next get the press out of the weather. It looks like you have standing water on the platen.
best james

Wimble was quite an enterprising fellow and produced the first printing inks in Australia as well as type later on. I think the business might also have had a New Zealand connection. I didn’t look closely enough and missed the FTW monogram. Perhaps this press was produced surplus to the Australian branded export order and Wimble’s name was excised for this reason. Or the press returned to England as ship’s ballast.

Hi All that replied

Thank you all for your time in responding to this.
I have had time to consider my situation with this press and have decided that I will probably sell this as I bought this at first because I thought it was such an amazing piece of history and seeing the Prince Of Wales feathers I new it was either important or special.
What I did not realise at the time was how big the printing press paternity was and that this press needs to be restored and used on a regular basis by somebody that will appreciate it for what it is or in a museum where people can learn and admire the press and (hopefully) use.
I will be putting the advert in the classifieds at the weekend when I have more time but until then should any of you know somebody that has been waiting for an Alexandra Printing Press then please PM me and we can talk.
Kind Regards

Hi Briar Press Community

This press is now on sale in classifieds.

Mark Hughes