Challenge Galley/Proofing Press?

Howdy. I thought I would put this out as a its own post:

Great timing. Visiting relatives in Oklahoma and their neighbor pulls out this press and gives it to me. What a blessing.

I do not know what category this press falls in but the bed is marked Challenge. It also has the number 555 on the bottom of the bed (see pics below).

Anyone with a knowledge-stream on this or how old it might be?

I am interested in how to replace the felt. As you can see in the photo it needs some love.


image: Challenge_555_7113.jpg


image: ChallengeProofPress_7115.jpg


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This type of galley proof press dates back to the 1880s, I think, and small weekly newspapers, for example, used them until cold type took over in the 1970s. It made a proof on a strip of newsprint of a galley of type/stories set in lead on a Linotype or Intertype. The type was inked with a brayer. There are several brands, and I read somewhere that they were sometimes given to customers free as a promotion by suppliers. We demonstrate one in our museum. A local leather shop made a new covering from lambskin.

Although you often see these with felt covering, I think a type of canvas was original. Sewn on, wetted and dried for fit.

Well, I was just challenged off-line for sources. I’ve seen one rolling-pin press like this with a canvas covering; canvas was definitely used on some earlier Vandercook galley presses, and if you read printing manuals from the era before prepared tympan was in general use (Rummonds’ “Nineteenth Century Printing Practices and the Iron Handpress” has an excellent bibliography of such manuals), cloths such as muslin and linen were used in large cylinder dressing. For both cloth and paper, pasting and wetting were the common method for a secure and taut packing.
I have worked with felt-covered Challenge and Miles Nervine rolling pin galley presses, no doubt later recoverings, and not of a quality I would consider useful for anything but the roughest proof. It may be that the older felt was better.

dadofquads, Re your proof press, in use you will almost certainly find, it performs better than some expectations.??

My apprenticeship was served between 1954 and 1960. (so info is first person Not 2nd hand!!) It was in a general Jobbing House, Sussex Printers, *Chronicle Works* Eastbourne. U.K.…Where Monotype and Linotype were in use in Tandem, The bigger proofing was done on Massive Proof press,!! Quad crown and bigger.

All of the smaller proofing was done on exactly the same press (proofing) as your acquisition, with a little acquired expertise You can/will achieve very passable proofs, even short runs, WITHOUT any gripper,s or lay edges, just a delicate touch to drop the sheets/stock onto the hand inked type.

Close inspection will probably show that the (working) length of the Bed is approaching 30” with the Upturn(ed) ramps at each end to contain the cylinder on the run out.

Generally Galley,s whether for Linotype OR Monotype product are around 22” working length, it is a racing certainty that the circumference of the Cylinder is at least equal to or more than 30”???
Meaning, by implication that any covering, be it Felt, Canvas, Cloth, WHEN sewn on, will fall beyond the extent of the footprint of type matter.

If possible to obtain locally, a Litho Blanket being canvas backed rubber turns in well, and lends itself for sewing on and around the cylinder, nowadays.??

It was a minute problem that with sustained use, (with layabout apprentices not concentrating, on the job in hand, probably thinking more about “chatting up* the girls in the finishing dept etc, so we believe) that the cylinder and the sewing became *out of sync* but easily rectified by lifting the cylinder slightly and re registering.

Perhaps, post a Proof when/if possible, for the New ones to see, how it used to be. Good Luck. Mick

When I started in a comp house in 1966 we had the same press, it had the felt sewn together and like Mick says every once in a while we had to lift and turn the cylinder to realign so the sewn part missed the form, pulled a pretty good proof.

I’ve got a press like this from the Cincinnati Type Foundry. The thing was dirty and rusty when I got it and the felt was off and stuck to the bed. After cleaning and painting, I washed the felt and sewed it back on. Unless there is a hole in the felt it should still work. All it does is cushion the impression as to not damage the type. In my classes we refer to it as Flintstone printing. Have fun with it.

Thanks Dick, and one for the *Printers stories* this was, in U.K. form, the very press that the aforementioned, Layabout Apprentices, were in deep trouble over:- i.e. as a throwback from school years, it seemed like a >Jolly Jape< to place a whole line of toy “Cap Pistol” Caps on the back side of the press track, so when the unsuspecting, Comp/Journeyman ripped off a quick proof it was usually quite loud & funny, especially if it happened to be the Miserable, lagging behind on bonus. `Comp` that bought it.

We blame You Lot, up to a point, If you had not exported Roy Rodgers, and others for our Saturday morning Movies, we probably would Not have ended up wanting/using *Six Shooter* Cap Pistols, ——- I rest my case.

Caps on the press track, very funny Mick, we should have worked together in the old days, we would have had fun.

One of the Comps that did NOT appreciate the >jolly jape< was the Main Comp/Stonehand who chose to work exclusively, on a dedicated composing Frame with His own galley press!! and stone.

Making up 16 Page formes for the United Nations Trade Index, (UNTI). Monthly publication and never ending. Now defunct. He did not appreciate, just the one roll.

The index, exclusively printed on One of Two BIG American Miehle,s, occasionally both had to run around the clock.!!

New Ones,? possibly check out your own History, key in to Google, LATE EDITION *The Atlantic* and I quote:-
The Mighty Miehle, A Letterpress the size of a Truck, (and they were) which for thirty years printed the News for Yellow Springs, Ohio, etc.etc.

Even running the Monotype, one floor above did NOT block out the rumble from 2 Miehle,s, The only Sound that surpassed 2 Miehles at full tilt, was the Rotary on the Local news paper, on Friday night AFTER the last coffee bar had thrown out the Rowdy element, usually the *Crank the Juke box up* after midnight brigade.

1958/9, We just got Jerry Lee Lewes,s High School Confidential, so we interpreted, >Got to get Me Boppin shoes, afore the Juke Box blows a fuse,< literally, and then got thrown out, allegedly.?

Well, superb observations and background as usual from you all. I appreciate your help.

There are a few pock marks in the felt, insects maybe … Could I flip the felt and see if it is better on the backside?

Is there a particular paint type for letterpress equipment?

Is there a particular position for the seam at the end of the press?

And … Proofs can be pulled from either direction?

Long live the Briarpressers.

you can pull proofs from either direction, the seam you should try to line up so it misses the galley.

thank you sirs and mesdames, where applicable … I will post some progress