The Columbian Press

I’m looking for a book:- ‘The Columbian Press’ by V C N Blight.

Has anyone got a spare copy? or a pdf copy? or know where one might be (preferably in the UK).


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I have a set of 12 photographs of spreads of the booklet, each about 800KB in size.Unfortunately I never got around to converting them to a PDF. I could email you them a few at a time if you’re interested.I think someone in Australia sent them to me.


Just in passing there is a silent Columbian in the Museum of Rural Life on top of the hill in Lincoln. In a sot of mocked up print shop. Rumour hath that it is occasionally demonstrated.

If You are talking full size Columbian Eagle, there is a *Full Up* and operational Columbian press in the Print Shop of Amberley Museum, Columbian Eagle 1850,s 20” 30” and a Magnificent (working) operational, reproduced - Common Press.!!!
Side by side with the Columbian.!

Amberley Museum, West Sussex…Google Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre, link to the Print Shop.

Thanks Bob, HarrildP and Michael,
Any other resources about The Columbian Press would be much appreciated, thanks for the UK suggestions!

I have a journal of printing historical society, and also ‘Printing Presses - James Moran’ both have fantastic information on The Columbian Press.

There was a worldwide survey of all Columbians a few years ago, I don’t know if the results were published.

Printing with the Handpress by Lewis Allen covers setting up and printing with the Columbian and the Albion.

To add to the list of where to see a Columbian there is an Irish one in the Museum of Technology, Cambridge, one in Royston Museum, one in Watford Museum and then there is St Brides.

The Columbian at St Bride (in the printing workshop) dates from 1822 and is the second-oldest in the world. St Bride has another Columbian in storage which is smaller but in immaculate condition. Both machines print beautifully and the smaller press was demonstrated at The Print Show in Telford two years ago.

A summary of the worldwide census of Columbian hand presses was published in the Journal of the PHS, New Series 21, 2014. I did not try to include the entire census as it would have doubled the length of the article — now over 430 presses recorded. However, I regret to report that the press at St. Bride’s printing workshop, if correctly recorded, is Clymer’s number 144 built in 1822. The census turned up the oldest known press in Sydney, Au, No. 10, and it superceded No. 13, in UK, previously considered the oldest by Mr. Moran. In addition, the census recorded Clymer’s No. 23 from 1819, location presently unknown, Clymer’s No. 47 from 1820 at the Watford Museum, No. 69, from 1821 in California, USA, and Clymer’s No. 96 which was in Durban, South Africa but has not been verified, all older than the press at St. Bride. One of the “benefits” of the census was turning up a lot of previously un-recorded presses, but it also shuffled the “oldest presses” list considerably. Sorry, Bob R.!

Bob Oldham

Thanks for the update Bob. The reference to St Bride’s Columbian being the second-oldest comes from Jacob Kainen’s book, published in 1950, so that fact is obviously very much out of date!

I would greatly appreciate further information about the second Columbian, in storage, at St. Bride’s. All I have recorded is that it exists — nothing about the platen and bed size, maker, etc, nor a photo. Any or all of that would be great. Good to know it is in good working order, too.

Regards, Bob