Looking for Model No. and Info for Showcard Press

Hello, my name is David Damico. I am a graduate student in graphic design at the University of Houston and am fairly new to letterpress and relief printing. I learned my graphics skills as the computer was making inroads into the profession, circa 1985. After having used computers for the intervening time, I have discovered the beauty of relief and letterpress printing. I have recently bought a tabletop flatbed Showcard press from a department store that was going out of business. It came with six long drawers of wood (primarily) and metal type. I was able to get a box of misc things that seem to go with it. A dictionary included with the box of stuff has a publication date of 1938. I assume this was when the press was purchased.

The type is in great shape and is primarily decorative and san serif, what you might expect from a department store of the mid 1950’s.

The construction is all metal and is very heavy taking two men to lift it. The roller is in good shape and I was told it was in use fairly recently.

After studying the box of parts, it appears that the long sawtooth metal strips attach either lengthwise or across the bed of the press to hold the type in place. Small spring things came with the metal strips but I have not put the press to actual use yet so their function is a guess.

I have not been able to date the press or find a model number anywhere on the body. Anyone having information on Showcard presses would be appreciated. I have attached a drawing of the press since I have not had a chance to take pictures (the press is in my trunk). Hopefully this will help. Thanks for any and all help.

image: Showcard Press Illus.jpg

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Recently I sold a press like yours. It had large wooden type with slits it it which slotted over the bars you have drawn. There was also some very worn and ugly metal type about (60 pt) which also had the slits in the foot.

You are right to think that the spring clips are there to hold the type on the bars. There should also be grippers to secure the paper at one end when you print. It is a good idea not to lay the paper flat on the press but to feed it out as the roller progresses. This will reduce the risk of a smudged impression.

If your type does not have the slits in the base you will need a chase and quoins to lock it up.

The type bars fit into the side and end notches of the bed with the ‘sawtooth’ facing up. The spring clips hold the type in place laterally on the bar. Slide two spring clips on the type bar with the springs towards each other. After you have set your line of type, position it where you want and slide the spring clips against each end, compress them and rock them outwards so that they latch into the notches.

Describe the size of the bed ( print area ) and / or the overall size of the press ( length and width ) and I’ll tell you what model you have.

Thanks for the comments from each of you. I will measure the bed tomorrow and report back.

I know this sounds basic but I assume inking for this kind of press is done on the type and not the roller. The roller comes in contact only with the back of the paper…am I right.


others have posted good advice to your questions so I will just post a link to the Showcard press I picked up a few months ago.


ya just need to start trying things out to really get a feel for it. get an inking plate like a piece of glass and a good brayer and go at it. I do alot of large lino cut work on mine.


Thanks Cody. Your images were very clear and informative. My Showcard is probably older than yours. Some features looked similar, others less so. The obvious change is the roller handle. Mine is cast iron enclosed and not as easily adjustable. I was intrigued that the name of the press was on the pressbed. I looked at mine this evening (still in my trunk) and could not find a similar mark. It also looks as if yours does not have the teeth on the ends of the pressbed which mine does. I assume the company made advances and added or removed things that made the press more usable.
I bought and built a metal cart on wheels for the press. It is supposed to support over 400lbs. This press, being sizable, requires two people to move it…thus the wheels. My plan is to get it into the house soon.

Just wanted to comment that school has started and I’m deep into classes. I’ve wanted to post pictures and may eventually. More later.

Hello I recently acquired a showcard 8x10 sign press an need information on where to obtain information on how to use it .I am new to all of this and need any and all help.It has 3 trays of letters and stuff and is for sure a very heavy little press thank you for any input that i am able to use ..A book on it would really be helpful..you can reach me at …[email protected] ..thanks again