Otis Tufts acorn printing press

This rare antique acorn printing press was made by Otis Tufts during the 1830s. Printing presses such as this were in common use before the Civil War to produce all kinds of printed material; the term “acorn press” refers to the distinctive shape of its frame. It is similar in design and function to the “Smith-Improved” press. The press is still in good working order after 185 years. Otis Tufts, the inventor of the Tufts Press, was a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts who, along with pursuits in shipbuilding and elevator technology, constructed the first steam-operated press in 1837. Today, his presses are very scarce (only seven are known to exist) and are highly sought-after. The press is made of cast iron. The frame is structurally sound with no stress damage, as is sometimes the case with older presses. The wooden lever, which causes the central joint to straighten and the plate to lower onto the printing surface, is original and intact. The crank that moves the platen is likewise fully functional, and the leather straps that it is attached to are still strong and supple. Other attractive features include a turned wooden leg, which is presumed to be original. Overall, this press is a scarce and desirable example of an important press design that is both a museum-quality relic of 19th century printing history and a functional tool for analog bookmakers and fine artists. The platen size is 23.5”x30”. The footprint of the press is approx. 4’x6’ — the total length is approx. 6’, and the width of the acorn frame (the widest part of the press) is approx. 4’. The press stands six feet tall and weighs about 2000 pounds. The press is in very good condition as is but arraignments can be made to restore this press back to original paint job/factory condition. Shipping and re-assembly can be arranged with the owner. $15,000.

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