does anyone make a brand new press?

hey there. i’m a letterpress novice, looking to get in.

is there any company that’s manufacturing new letterpress machines? or are the only available as antiques? i’m finding that the competition for an antique beginner press (budget: less than $500) is making it difficult to get one.

any advice?


Log in to reply   21 replies so far

You can get a C&P for that budget.

There really aren’t any presses in production that are suitable for letterpress, so vintage is the way to go.
A press could be custom made by a skilled machinest, but this would be way out of yours and most people’s budget.
If you are having a hard time finding what you need, and are anxious to print, check out this month’s issue of ReadyMade magazine (if you are not familiar with ReadyMade, it is about all things DIY). It gives instructions on how to build your own table top press out of stuff you can get from the hardware store, for a cost of about $100.
Keep in mind that the design is extremely basic, and would only be suitable for slow, patient, hobby printing, with inking and registration all done by hand, but hey, there you go.
I believe a similar press was built by a Briar Press blogger about 6 months ago and was posted somewhere on the site. Check the archives.
If you are not feeling handy, be patient and you vintage find will come along eventually.

There is no way you could make a new press today for less than that. I would suggest you try posting an ad locally on Craigslist and in the paper seeking a small press. A press that sells for a grand on eBay may only cost $50 if purchased elsewhere.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

I think you can still get Kluge presses new, though only large production models mostly for foil stamping.

And you’d need to add at least one zero to the end of that $500 ;)

A tip I was given many churches and schools used to have their own presses and now they’re just in storage. It never hurts to ask around.

Kluge will make a press based around a stamper for $35,000, last I heard. I think the Rose intro site had that number.

A company in Japan is also making Adana tabletops for $4,000 or so. There was a thread a while ago…

I have looked briefly at how much it would cost to make a repro C&P Pilot or a simple flatbed cylinder (think Vandercook No. 1 with grippers). I will be talking to my machinist uncle over Christmas, but in volume production of a thousand units with outsourced (Taiwan, India, or high-end China) casting & machining and domestic assembly/production/QC, I don’t think it could be done for less then several thousand dollars per press.

Alex, another thing you might try, is to talk to some local print shops (old, well established printshops). Old printers that have been friends for years keep in touch with each other and know where shops are being broken up and when their long time comrades are retiring.

My father established our shop in 1954 and and his friends from back in the day (now 75 - 85 years old) are consistantly trying to give away thier equipment. The old timers don’t think the letterpress equipment is worth anything, and we take from them all we can store and use for nothing or next to nothing. But more tragically, much of their equipment and type get junked without anybody knowing. This just happened a month ago with a perfect C & P. Out it went. *sniff*

So make some visits and do some networking. The equipment is out there. I promise. These old shop owners aren’t computer savvy and chuckle when I tell them about the popularity of letterpress. They don’t believe me. It’s up to us to find them, because they aren’t looking for us, they are looking for scrap yards that will pick up.

Agreed. Make in known to local printshop, even newer ones, that your looking for anything to be had. Leave business cards. They’ll find you eventually. Printing is surprisingly a very “small” industry. It seems everyone knows someone at a dozen other shops.

Updated. I echo Lammy’s one comment about churches and schools, especially when it comes to schools.

I scored my Craftsmen Superior WITH custom cabinet, built-in type case & drawers, type, and oodles of goodies at a school surplus warehouse. It’s in exceptionally good condition and the price was a pure blessing: only $100.00!

Look around in school surplus warehouses and you just might get lucky, too!

Brandtjen & Kluge, Inc. still sells letterpresses.

Having said that, in looking at this web site, it saddens me to see postings about injuries as a result of hand feeding a press.

No Kluge press should ever be hand fed.

No Kluge press should be operated without current guarding in place.

Kluge presses built prior to 1960 can not be properly guarded and should be taken out of use and destroyed.

Regarding new Platen Presses after the style of Chandler and Price.
I googled some place in India, and they manufacture the complete range of CP from the smallest to the big ‘uns.
Very well priced, but one never knows how well finished. When I get home to night I’ll look for my email from them and put up the details for you to seach.
William Amer, Pressed Letters, Australia
Hand and Machine Compositor, Printer

New Chandler and Price Platens, from India:
go to
press and print finishing machines
go to
platen printing machinery

This is an amazing site, never knew CP’s had so many attachments/
William Amer, Pressed Letters, Australia

Just to let people know about press prices. In 1974, I purchased a brand new from Heidelberg a 10x15 Heidelberg platen windmill with stamping unit. The price in a crate and placed in my shop was $15,000 (+-) a dollar or two. I think if you found a brand new Heidelberg platen the price would be $60,000.

In the late 60’s a typesetting house purchased a new Intertype to add to the other 4 we had. The price was over $30,000.

So, the prices we pay for used running equipment is cheap.

@beamond -

Are you serious? I think I read here that that was the line given by one of the manufacturers (C&P?) when they went under to release them from liability.

But, seriously? Kluges built prior to 1960 should be destroyed because OSHA doesn’t like them?

No, Kluge would rather you destroyed them to spare them potential liability. It would not surprise me if they were not party to a lawsuit every now and again and to their defense, they must recommend that any machine lacking appropriate current safety guards should be destroyed.

Of course that doesn’t happen, but when a manufacturer recommends that, it probably colors the legal case and points the finger back at an operator who knowingly chose to operate an “unsafe” press. Of course all machinery is unsafe, it’s just a matter of finding somebody foolish enough to get past the “foolproof”.

I would concur that, unless you can get the handfeed gripper timing cam, a Kluge is a miserable press to handfeed (can’t use the grippers), though they are much better operated with the feeder they come with. If you like handfeeding, get a C&P or just use a lever tabletop press.

Mike -

I get that a manufacturer is going to suggest this to mitigate liability. I’m shocked that a member of this list would suggest the same.

Beamond’s profile gives me a “Protected Page” warning, even though I’m logged in, so I’m not quite sure who this person is. I’d hope that Beamond works for Kluge and is required to make such a statement. I can’t imagine a member of this community willingly suggest the destruction of a perfectly good press.

I purchased a used Craftsmen Superior for $100.00 a couple of years ago. It needed a bit of work, but was operational. A retired printer who was a customer at the gun shop where I work had it in storage. All I had to do was mention that I was looking for a small table-top press, but could not afford one. “How much can you afford?” “Oh, a hundred bucks.” Deal was done. A month later he was back in town and we moved the press from his pickup truck to mine. It came with some tympan paper, a new set of rollers, some type, a composing stick, gauge pins, furniture, chase, & quoins. It’s now bolted to the dining room table and I am getting ready to print my first actuall printed book.

They ARE out there. You just have to talk to people.

I recommend saving a little longer and upping your budget. There’s a price-to-pound ratio involved in most letterpress purchases. The heavier the press, the less you’ll pay (unless it’s a Vandercook, of course!) meaning the harder the press is to move the less you’ll pay. That’s simplified, there are deals to be had with smaller presses also. As others have said, cast a wide net and you might be surprised. I paid $700 for my first press 10 years ago, a C&P 8x12. I’ve also had smaller presses (Kelsey 3x5’s and 5x8’s) thrown in as part of buy-outs of equipment. Depending on where you are located, John Barrett at Letterpress Things in Massachusetts can be a good source and there are other businesses out there also. Good luck!
Whistle Pig Press

I knew three UK amateur printers who got remarkably good results from a large tin can filled with concrete rolling along two rails. By large I mean about . um .. around 10 inches to a foot in diameter. Keepsake Press and Morris Cox to name two. Both had better more precise antique machinery in due course, but as I say, for very short runs their ‘cylinder presses’ did very well.

Roy Caslon at Caslon Ltd in St Albans UK (who hold the Adana name and parts) is selling beautiful rebuilds of most of the range fully refurbished and looking like new. Very helpful generally, with spares and bits. But don’t go mad with this US craze for wildly excessive pressures to get ridiculous depths of image , you might even break an 8 x 5 !. Now the 8 x 5 is a remarkable machine and you’d be amazed what can be done with one. I’ve had mine since 1949, and I’ve done stuff you wouldn’t believe, from engravings on wax anyone?.