ink alternative?

Hi everyone! I’ve recently acquired my dad’s old Kelsey 5x8 that he bought in the late 70s and used maybe a couple of times and then moved to the storage room at his newspaper office where it sat for a dozen or so years before being moved to the garage at home for another dozen years. I spent all day yesterday cleaning it up, getting the moving parts moving again and killing the spiders that were living in the box w/ the type so now I’m ready to get started. My only problem is that I’m having trouble finding ink. One of the local hobby stores I called said they only carry indian ink and the person who answered the phone at another place had no idea what letterpress printing is. I know I can order ink online, but I’m wondering if there are any easy-to-find alternatives that I could play with this weekend. I don’t want to use anything that’s going to hurt the equipment but I’d really like to get started if possible.

Thanks in advance for your advice!
-polly d

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oops, i meant to post that in the beginners’ section… darn now i look foolish!

Go to any local printing shop and see if you can’t talk them out of a mostly-used can of ink to experiment with. The ink used for the offset presses should work perfectly fine on your Kelsey. This will be a trial and error period for you so you might as well not lay out a good chunk of money for a new can of ink right off the bat.

I hope this makes sense to you.

i’ll give it a shot, thanks!

Not to hijack your post, but I just found out that my local blick art store carries Graphic Chemical & Ink Co. Etching and Litho ink. I am trying to find out if this will work on the press



Litho (stone litho) inks work well for letterpress (on a Vandercook), etching inks not so.

Anyone want a free can of ink? go to Blue Hills

Probably not all at once though!


I tried the “Do you have any almost empty cans of ink i could use” bit today at a printer near my office today and was told they didn’t have any but they did give me the name of one place in the area that sells Van Son inks.

I checked out that Blue Hills link and their prices looked much better than this local place is charging but I didn’t see anything about free ink. Did I miss it? (Highly possible since it’s Friday and my brain has turned itself off for the weekend.)

I just checked Blue Hill. Couldn’t find the free samples anymore. Sorry for that. Apparently it got to be a bit too much going out and not enough coming in.

where are you located? i am in detroit and if youre not too far away i would be glad to send you a few samples from my large ink collection. i was very fortunate here in detroit as there were once printers on every corner and many of the old times i have met were very generous and would just hand me 4-5 cans of ink every time i went by their shops. especially custom mixed inks and lots of weird 1970’s flourescent inks.guess they musta been printing those black light posters.