Sigwalt for first press?

I’d been wanting a letterpress machine since taking the typography class back in college, but had gave up several times due to budget. Out of nowhere, I came across a local estate sale that has 3 tabletop letterpresses for sale. I am hoping this would be my early Christmas present!

They have a 3x5 kelsey, 3x5 Sigwalt and a large tabletop Sigwalt (I asked but the person said they cannot find marking on the press, from the photo I am guessing it is either No.4 or No. 5?) While I am happy to print business cards and gift tags, I would definitely love to get the larger one if budget allows. Those they look pretty well kept, the seller (which is an estate sale agent, i believe) aren’t sure if the presses are working properly.

I do a lot of screen printing but I never operate a letterpress before. I do plan to go take a class if I ended up getting one.

So please shred me some lights on whether I should purchase one:
1. What parts should I inspect in the first place? What can be usually broken?

2. From the photo, do you think it is in good condition? Seems like it is missing the chase? Can anyone suggest where I should get a chase and how much would it be?

3. Is there any other questions I should ask?

Thank you very much!

image: 1.jpg


Log in to reply   5 replies so far

These are all popular presses. I’d be tempted to buy all three, trying to get a package price. Try all three, then pick the one you want and sell the others here on Briar Press.

The press in the photo is missing a chase, but if you look around there may be one. Otherwise it looks pretty nice. And few people have three presses without using them, so look around for type and supplies as well.

Having visited the ad for the sale next week (11/9/18), it looks to me like the orig owner was quite organized. I believe I saw some extra chases along with a great deal of other letterpress related equipment, much of it nicely labeled. The press and all the extras look like everything is in excellent, usable condition and belonged to a knowledgeable hobby printer. If I were you I’d be first in line with cash in hand and buy it all. Definitely buy the larger Sigwalt + type + supplies. Only negative is that the rails may have been taped for some reason. Traveling 1500 miles is too far for me to get out of bed to visit.

Thank you so much for the tips and suggestions!

Yes it shows couple drawers of types on another photo, maybe the chase is hiding somewhere. To be honest I have to admit I am not prepared for this purchase, but this opportunity looks too good to pass on. It looks usable and well kept, and most importantly, not that far away from me. Thank you again for helping making the decision

It looks like the largest Sigwalt (No. 4?) has a homemade counter attached to it. What a great idea!

It looks like a Sigwalt No. 5 in 6x9 chase size. The chase looks to be missing. There is a chase on Ebay for $75 dollars. However, contact seller with your inside and outside dimensions before buying…