Dating C&P O.S. Pilot Presses

This topic has been discussed several times, but I’d like to consolidate all of the threads that I’ve read through before, as well as come to some definitive answers if possible. These are included at the bottom. I plan on making a chart that outlines differences in presses that help us recognize their age.

What I would like, from everyone that has a C&P Oldstyle Press, is photos of your presses that show specific identifiers, and what you know about them. What I “know” at this point is:

The oldest pilots have fluted arms, which is a good indicator of the 1st generation presses. These also are missing the locking nuts, and have a square set screw to hold the lever in place.
an example from bdicharry can be found here. This also shows arms with enclosed ends, held in by a screw as Tom from T&T has mentioned in other posts.

The next generation have a solid arms. They are also missing locking nuts. My press has springs instead, between the platen bolt head and platen. Has a square set screw holding the lever in place. I have one of these, and I will post a photo below.

At some point, a locking nut is added. This may also be a part added by printers, and not the manufacturer. I have not seen an example verified as being from the factory this way.

It has been said that at some point, the “Pilot” making on the press eventually disappears. This is referenced in this post, but I have not seen an example of an Old Style without the pilot marking.
Stephanie Kossmann states, however, that the “Pilot” on the castings is a later addition, and signifies it being a later model closer to new style.

Some time after, there is a change to the nameplate. It goes from being straight to curved. An example is found here.

We also know that in 1914 the New Style press was introduced, but it’s not apparent (to me) that this is when they stopped selling the Old Style press. The APA page for pilot presses states that the presses were updated in 1950, but it does not say what this means exactly, whether it’s the switch to new style or a different casting update.

†Much of this research comes from Ink Spot (Tom) and Dicharry (Brad) in previous posts.
*We can get all of the “Dating a Pilot Press” Jokes out as well*

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Here are photos of my press. It’s identifying features are:

Straight C&P casting in the front

Pilot cast into the Yoke

Springs on the Platen Bolts (may be added after)

Arms are NOT fluted

Square bolt holding lever in place

Gerald Flynt

image: Set screw for Lever

Set screw for Lever

image: Yoke


image: Side Arm

Side Arm

image: Platen Bolt

Platen Bolt

image: Nameplate


image: C&P Oldstyle Pilot

C&P Oldstyle Pilot

Harold reached out and sent these photos along of his press, which has a few parts that could be usable in identifying press age.

The first photo is of the gripper & gripper bar, which are very different from what I have on my press. Does anyone know if this is what the original grippers looked like? It would make sense that Harold has the older gripper.

The second photo is of the press disassembled. Note the lever—this may be something that was added later, but it is also very un-ornate. Has anyone seen a lever like this before?

image: disassembled press

disassembled press

image: gripper assembly

gripper assembly

Here is a link to a google doc that I am populating.

I am making an appointment at the Henry Ford Museum to talk to someone who is a historical technology researcher to see what they know. They also have a collection of presses and might have a few pilots to reference.

Teikaut, what about Pilot clones? Are you interested in those as well? We have an American Printing Equipment Pilot clone that I’m told was manufactured by Hohner in West Germany in the ’70s or ’80s.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN


Yeah, absolutely, I’m trying to make a definitive timeline from the first “pilot” or press that inspired the pilot through the Hohner APE Pilot/Craftsmen Pilot. Please post photos of your press. I’d love to compare yours to my Craftsmen Pilot, which is fairly new as well.

Also, I’ve never printed on an APE, but I hear they’re a dream.

Gerald Flynt
Small Works
Detroit, MI