Help? Which one should I keep & refurbish?

I am brand new to this site and so far, I’m love. I am a teacher of a Graphic Production program at the high school level. I have two letterpresses that the previous teacher never made operable after acquiring them. Now I’m trying to decide which one is best for our needs and/or which one is the most realistic to refurbish. Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated. Once I make a decision we can make the other press available for bidding.

I am not knowledgeable when it comes to these presses. I ran an AB Dick 360 in high school, and a large monotype press in college, then later all new tech presses, but never a letterpress.

My images don’t seem to be attaching. If you don’t see any in the post, perhaps I can attach them after.

Press 1
Craftsmen Machinery - Superior
Photos attached

Press 2
Chandler & Price
Note: the photos do not show the ink plate/disc, but I have it.

Thanks for your input.

image: Craftsmen_Superior_med.jpg

Craftsmen_Superior_med.jpg

image: Chandler_Price_med.jpg

Chandler_Price_med.jpg

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This site typically has issues with image filenames containing special characters. Rename the image something simple and try again.

Thank you, the size was too big. They are there now.

If I were going to teach a class and actually have the students print something, I would keep both of them. Trying to get a whole class of students through the process of printing a project on just one press is probably not the optimum situation.

I was the last letterpress instructor at a technical college which shut down their letterpress facility about 1980. For our class, we had 3 or 4 hand fed platen presses (like yours only floor models), a cylinder proof press, and a Heidelberg windmill (just to give you an idea).

I’m assuming you are doing this to give the students an idea how the letterpress printing process works, and I think that is worthwhile. Giving them an idea how all the major conventional processes work is worthwhile, in my opinion. I’m talking about letterpress, offset (lithography), flexography, gravure, and screen process. The major difference between the conventional processes and the digital processes, of course, is that the conventional processes all need some kind of plate. And lest the students think that the conventional printing processes are being relegated to the dust bin of history, all they have to do is walk into a grocery store. Almost everything they see there has been printed by one or more of the conventional printing processes.

I wish you the best of luck. Thank you for undertaking this project. I think that all to often, students are taught the latest technologies, but they have no idea how we got to the point we are now at. Without that background, it makes it much harder for them to see the big picture, solve problems, etc.

Are the presses identical in size? If you have to pick- assuming both are fully functional, just need rollers and drawsheets/packing/gauges- I would pick the larger of the two.

The press with the shovel handle looks to have the handle misaligned on the shaft- that is the first thing to look at. It should be more upright with the press open like that.
that press looks to have roller cores and rollers, as well as trucks but from here they look old, probably have to replace them either way and it doesn’t cost much for cores.

They both appear to have chases…..

Is one better built than the other? Do the castings and finishing look better? Are the castings for the impression arms beefier on one than the other? How about the platen conditions and inking disc conditions? Similar or is one more damaged/pitted? Keep the better overall press if you absolutely must pick between them..

I believe I would agree with Geoffrey, keep both if you can afford new rollers for both. If not, I’d opt for the C&P as it is a newer model and may (?) have seen less use. I’m not certain what advantages were seen with the intro of the new style press, but I think it may be just a bit “beefier” than the old style (like the Superior pictured).

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press

I believe I would agree with Geoffrey, keep both if you can afford new rollers for both. If not, I’d opt for the C&P as it is a newer model and may (?) have seen less use. I’m not certain what advantages were seen with the intro of the new style press, but I think it may be just a bit “beefier” than the old style (like the Superior pictured).

John Henry
Cedar Creek Press

Wow, thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses. All this info will help me. I will take a look at the presses in detail tomorrow with all your thoughts and questions in mind.

My goal is not to teach 100% of my students to operate a letterpress, but the ones who show an extended interest in the career path of graphic production should understand the history of printing from experience, not just books. In addition, no matter how sweet the new technology is, it doesn’t come close to the results of a deep impression with hand mixed color on lovely cotton stock. I’d be synthesizing fine art and production.

One experienced member, also a teacher, responded saying that I may not have time to teach letterpress printing. He may be right. I need to take into account the whole process to make an educated decision.

I’ll post a follow up with some info after I take another look at the presses. If anything I’ll probably keep one as a historical art piece in the shop to show off when I teach the history of printing, but I would love for it to be operable for special projects for those students with the desire to learn.

Thank you all :)

Good to hear about someone having such passion for passing and impressing this knowledge upon the young; kudos

No matter which table-top press is chosen, its’ usable life could be rendered useless should a desire for “deep impression” be the focus and fascination… especially in the hands of experimenting users who may not comprehend limits.

Many great comments on here. I would say use both, but if you plan on just the one I would say keep the Chandler Price as that one, the handle looks to be aligned on the shaft right whereas the other one with the shovel handle doesn’t look like it’s in the right spot for how far closed the platen is. As for refurbishing it looks like both could just use a dust off. I would find all the little holes, should be near where arms and such attach to the shafts, they are oil holes. I would try and get a little bit of oil in them and see if everything is free and moving. Don’t try and force it to move though if anything is stuck.

Also, if you do only plan on using the one, what were are you planning on doing with the other one?