9x13 Info and restoration

This past week I took the dive into letterpress which I’ve wanted to do for years. I got a Dick Blick roller proof press from a professor a few months ago along with some type. Since then I’ve been gathering metal type and some wood type. I found someone who closed up their letterpress shop of 50 years. He said he had a 5x8 table top press that has been unused for those 40 years. (His shop was filled with 10 beautiful automatic presses) So that’s what I did my research on. Well I get out there and he drags out this huge 9x13 Model F Excelsior Kelsey press.


It’s in rougher condition than I would have liked but it all works and the ink plate rotates, it does have rollers that are not in great condition. It’s missing the gripper bar, and grippers. (I believe that’s all it’s missing) The chase doesn’t have the allen wrench screws that my 5x8 does. (My readings told me that all Excelsiors had these, I could be wrong) But it was such a beautiful piece of machinery I couldn’t leave without it. Especially after that 70 minute drive out there.

More pictures:

My questions:
Estimated production date? (There’s no serial)
Estimated value in current condition? After some refurbishing? (to repaint or not?)
Is there something missing besides gripper bar and grippers that I’m missing?
Might this be the original chase?
How best to refurbish this? I’ve read a huge range of suggestions on how to go about this. What do you pros recommend?
Roller replacement seller?

5x8 (Date I believe is Feb. 1966)
Roller replacement seller?
Do I have all the parts to this?

I also picked up some beautiful (appears to be mostly unused) wood type. I think I have three full or almost full typefaces that are 6” 5” and 3” which I was super excited about and wanted to share!

I’m going to be returning to this now retired printer with his garage packed full of letterpress stuffs to pick up a Quoin key (in my excitement I didn’t get one when I was there) is there anything else I should get? I have a limited amount of furniture (but I think enough).


Log in to reply   2 replies so far

I think the 9x13 was only made in the early days, model F had patent date 1892, no date would be pre 1892 most printers take off grippers and use Gauge pins new grippers and bar/spring can be made. I do have new roller and truck sets for them. looks to be in good shape paw could use a new holding pin and pressure adjustment bolts may need to be replaced and a tap run through threads. value is what your willing to pay it is a good heavy press.


The press seems to be in good condition, and as you indicated, all there but the grippers. They would be easy to fabricate (use your 5x8 as a guide). The grippers will be necessary if you have a large form that wants to stick as the platen descends.

I had a 9x13 Kelsey for quite some time. It is a heavy press to move around the shop, so you’ll want to find a dedicated resting place. The chase on mine did not have tightening screws either, it was intended to use quoins.

I still have a 10x14 Kelsey Union platen press, and it uses the same roller style and dimensions as the 9x13 I had. If you have the roller shafts, any roller maker will be able to recover the shafts with new rubber or composition.

Have fun with it as you clean it up. I wouldn’t worry about new paint unless your shop is a showplace or museum, just get it in good mechanical nick and you’re set.

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press