Colt’s Armory Presses

Very interested in the Colt’s Armory platen presses. We have a 14 x 22 Colt, just acquired. Would like to compile a list of owners and users of this machine, any size or style. Please id year of make, style, chase size and source of acquisition, if possible. Anybody out there who can give us some parts sources and operation tips via e-mail or telephone? Lots of thanks!

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Was this the one that was on Long Island and on eBay recently? These are very nice presses. I know where eight or so of them are.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

It would be helpful to know what your model/size is since you are asking for parts.

What little I know of them is that they are EXCELLENT presses (basically built like a Sherman tank!) and they are extremely few and far between. I think I’ve only run across two or maybe three in the decades that I have visited hundreds of shops.


Recently I started a Yahoo group for Colt’s Armory and other parallel-impression platens. There are a few files and links, but not really any activity yet. You can join at
I know of a couple dozen from different manufacturers, of which eight are John Thomson Press Co./Colt’s Armory presses.

To Foolproof1546~ Yes, indeed!
Our machine is a Model C, Style 6 (14 x 22 chase size). 1903 is the latest patent date on the name plate. The machine is in excellent shape, no rust at all. Has been used, of course, for die cutting (has a die cutting form locked up in the chase).. Has fresh oil in the cups. Moves freely and well. No form inking rollers or cores or trucks. That’s about it~seems all but ready to print. Know anything or anyone, Rick? Many thanks.

Wm. (Bill) J. Murray

To Arm NYC
Thanks, Daniel. Yes, I found this on eBay earlier this month. Not on Long Island, but in Ozone Park, Queens. The nicest young fella (Johnny) sold it to me. His family owns and operates a towing company that buys and sells and repairs fork lifts. The Colts was loaded on one of a batch of forklifts which this towing company purchased at auction. The forklift sellers at auction just gave their buyers the Colts. His folks not knowing what it was, wanted to junk it, but Johnny, very intelligently went onto the internet and found out a little about it and thus listed it on eBay~a happy experience for me, thus far. I recognize and pay tribute to you, Daniel, for your great work in printing and teaching.
Can we get the owners you know posted or privately shared?

Wm. (Bill) J. Murray

I’m very glad to hear that press found a good home. It has haunted me a bit since I saw that the auction didn’t get any bids. I was afraid it might have suffered some horrible fate.

What is your email? I prefer not to post the list here, but I would be happy to send it to you privately.


My e-mail is [email protected].
Please feel free.

I’m Jim Macnab and I run the print shop @ the Canterbury, NH Shaker Village. We are in the process of trying to refurbish a Gally’s Universal manufactured by Colt’s. I have some info on the Colts Armory that I will be glad to share and we could also use anything that might be out there on the earlier press.
Jim Macnab
Franklin, NH

Hi Jim:
I purchased a Gally Universal parallel impression press. It has never been activated and is stored in our warehouse. I’m going from memory as I write this note to you.

I purchased it on a family trip through beautiful New England in 1989 from M. Luther Turnbaugh in Mechanicsburg, PA. (That was my only meeting with Luther. This legendary fellow supplied me with some many basic printing supplies when I was a boy. Like so many others, I read his annual newspaper sized mail-out sheet until it fell to pieces.) Going through his vast warehouse in 1989 was worth the whole trip, to me. Wish I was better financed at the time~recently married and two little children. In going through I noticed in a dark corner this particular Universal, a small floor model, about 10 x 15, It was the first parallel impression press I had ever seen, but I had read about them and recognized what it was, said I would be intrested in buying it The diminutive, stubborn Luther puffed on his pipe “doubtfully” and said he had been saving the Universal for his daughter and didn’t want to sell it. We haggled. I wound up getting bit, and bought it and having it shipped back home.

Without checking the plate or other characteristics, I recall believing that it was an early machine, not of Colt’s manufacturing. That little trade episode was joy to me.

I know Mr. Turnbaugh must be deceased by now. Would anyone who knows kindly respond and let me know when he passed away and any other circumstances of his life and death known and recalled or the names and location of others who might know.

If there is anything I can do to assist you with regard to your Universal please do let me know.

Likewise, anything you can do to help me get my Colt’s Armory up and running would be greatly appreciated.

My e-mail is [email protected]. Would you share your e-mail address as well?

With best regards, I remain

Wm. (Bill) J. Murray

Here is the obituary for Mr. Turnbaugh’s wife which was from 2010. It appears he had passed away earlier.


Thanks, Dan.

I have a Quarto Medium Style 1, latest date is 1901. I love it but it has issues with the rollers, and I’m hoping to someday machine new roller trucks and have new rollers cast so that I can reliably ink small formes. But, for that, I need to look at a press that has all its original parts (unlike mine) and take some notes.
You can find me on the Yahoo group, or at


Found this on M. Luther Turnbaugh. He died on March 3, 2005. Confirming my impression of him in our brief meeting that he was “diminutive” (in a positive, quiet, peaceful sense) is the notation here that he was a church deacon and choir member.

We are touching on a little American printing history. What better niche than the “Colts’s Armory” file? The silence of what was once there is chilling.

I believe that encroachments have so severely separated the practice of our present craft from its formerly widespread, marvelous exercise as a trade for livelihood that saving the stories and their aspect on the larger inspirational account is critical.

One may say that this is true of all necessary change. But we are not speaking about just any expiring methodology. We are also speaking to those of the coming generations who cannot, and we earnestly pray will not, rid themselves of the long fascination of the enduring, unbounded commonwealth of language and letters.

“I have kept the ancient law,
I have written what I saw.”
R.P.T. Coffin

As to Turnbaugh’s obit, please see!search/profile/person?personId=741508398&targetid=profile

The best,
Bill M.

To Jim Macnab

Not that it’s important, but to correct the record which has now been sent into the Valhalla of internet immortaility, our family visit to New England was in 1987. Thus I bought the Gally Universal which I described to you previously, from Turnbaugh, in 1987, not in 1989.

My source? Spouse of 31 years who endures all, and remembers all.

Thanks for your interest.
Bill Murray

I have a 14x22 Colt, SN: 636, last patent date: Aug. 14, 1888. I picked it up in 2006 from a woman in Port Townsend, WA. It now lives in my small studio in Snohomish, WA. I am always looking for information and parts.


I have a Merrit Galley National Universal 14 x 22. It’s functionally the same press. you are probably aware of the history regarding the Reverend Merrit Galley and John Thompson and the Colt’s Presses. My press is in perfect working order. It belonged to the late Don Fleming of Orinda, CA. Also, Mark Barbour of the international Printing Museum recently acquired a colt’s 14 x 22 from the estate of Arlan Philpot in what appeared to be almost factory mint condition. A few similar machines in our neighborhood are a Victoria, owned by Eric Holub, A Thompson Laureate owned by Ivar Diel in Oakland, Andy Hoyem’s Laureate, at Arion Press in SF, and a Geitz owned by (I’ve forgotten the gentleman’s name) in SF. except for the Geitz, the others all almost all the same. Of course the Geitz is the Bently version of the parallel Impression press.

The Gietz is owned by Jack Stauffacher, and what Ivar Diehl has is a Hartford (once Grabhorn’s and Hoyem’s). Hoyem now has a Laureate and an Victoria with feeder removed.
Major differences among these different models just mentioned are whether they have one or two inking drums, and three or four form rollers (sometimes a fourth roller is a distributor). A later Victoria and Gietz have few differences but both are much improved over any version of Colt’s Armory.
And Tom, take another look at the plaque on your press. It is spelled Gally (see the image at

This interesting thread lead me to check what exactly a Colts Armory Press was as they are virtually or entirely unknown here in the UK. Google images instantly showed me that a Colts Armory Press closely resembled parallel-approach platen presses known here as Victoria Art Platen Presses. A read of the Wikipedia article on Colt Armory lead me to Fred Williams’ article “The Great Colt’s Armory War!” in Type & Press, winter 1983:

I was genuinely surprised to find that the parallel-approach principle had originated in the US. German manufacturers so dominated the UK market for these presses (even the main UK make - the Vicobold - was German-owned) that I’d mistakenly assumed that the design may have originated in Germany.

The most authorative work on parallel-approach platen presses that I’ve been able to find is V.S.Ganderton “Proof and Platebn Presses” (no.6 in “Printing Theory and Practice”), London: Pitman, 1946. When introducing this design of press, the author states “this field has been largely exploited in America, where the principle was first introduced, and in Germany, where the ‘Victoria’ has produced the finest examples of the principle” (p.12). So there it was, under my nose (or at any rate on my bookshelf) all these years, and the import of that statement had never gotten thru to me.

I have an interest in this design of press because I have dismantled German model of late 1920s vintage. It was phenominally heavy to move by hand: its total weight was around 1,200 to 1,500 pounds and even fully dismantled the larger castings were a real problem to move - I clearly recall lifting the platen off being a near hernia-inducing movement, and that was 15 years ago; I’m sure I couldn’t lift it back into place now and will need mechanical assistance when I eventually reassemble the press.

So thank you very much for putting me onto the road to learning about the origin of this design of press!

one Colt’s press sold on ebay in north of Uk for about £260 last year. Patrick Roe of the Logan Press has Autopvic etc for sale.

In revisting this particular series after months, it is delighful for me to read the participation. My own fears that the parallell impression machines were facing a kind of information extinction are abated There are enthusiasts out there in America. We do not have the living benefit of the old operators and pressmen, though there must be a least a handful who operated the machines as die cutters in recent years, in addition to the book printers. Please come forward. I would think that now any information, any stories or experiences, no matter how seemingly slight, are of value in getting down their history.

I recently bought a colts armory. looks to be 14 x 22 and in nice shape. any idea of weight? I will be moving it soon. It looks as heavy as a big kluge with feeder, maybe heavier.

we just stripped two Colts for parts in case anyone may be looking. One is about 14 x 22, the other smaller

I am looking for someone with experience moving a Colt’s Armory 14 x 22 (super half royal). I have six Colt’s Armory presses to move into a basement in East Aurora, NY. I have a choice of disassembly to the point where the press is 2400 lbs. (to use an elevator) or taking it down a 30 degree incline (a set of planked cement steps). The second approach seems complicated and dangerous. With partial disassembly I am particularly concerned about removal of the platten. I have identified 10 bolts that have to be removed to free it but I need to know its weight and how others might have approached this task.
Joe Weber

The shipping weight of this size is listed as from 3,075 pounds for a 2-A to 3,400 pounds for a 6-B, but that’s crated and would include loose pieces like rollers, chases etc.
I moved my Victoria whole, but to remove its platen, I think it’d just be removing the side arms and disconnecting the gripper mechanism. The flat base doesn’t require skids, but chamfered skids make it easier to use a prybar for correction.
Moving six of these, it might be worth building a ramp (and using multiple cable winches for safety), especially if it could be extended for a gentler slope.

Hey folks,

Is the Yahoo Group still up and running? I just asked to join.


Hello fellow Colt’s owners and parallel platen enthusiasts! I have a 14x22 Colt’s that previously belonged to Harold Berliner. It’s missing the steel oscillating roller off the back of the ink train and I’m about to have one machined finally! Anyone else need one?

I’m based in Kingston WA. Long story re: how the press came to me a few years back but it’s lovely. I’ve been printing on it a couple years now and it’s just about fully restored. I’ve been stuck on is the steel oscillating roller, and have learned they’re frequently missing. Jesse of Marsolais Press was kind enough to loan me the oscillating roller off the 14x22 Colt’s that he is restoring, and I’ve got a machinist lined up to fabricate a new one!

I’m reaching out to any and all Colt’s owners I can think of as this part has been such a wild goose chase for me. If you need one I’d be delighted to facilitate and add one to my order—not sure of cost yet, but the more that are made the less per piece. I know it’ll be at least $300 in materials, plus time of course. The machinist I’m working with is delightful, we carefully took apart the roller on loan and inspected the inner workings, worm gear etc, goodness was it fascinating.

Great stories here in this thread, thank you all. I agree it’d be great to have a list/registry of Colt’s owner’s somewhere where we could share specific info and build more resource for new restoration projects.

I’m starting a new thread specifically about the roller, please chime in here or there or better yet respond directly via email if you want one: [email protected].


Expedition Press
Kingston WA

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Hi Myrna,

I am currently doing the same thing for a 10 x 15 Merritt Gally Universal. It is still in process at my machinist so I cannot provide any pictures yet. We elected to use the dog and worm as it’s called from a Hamada offset press. That way both wear parts are easily replaced when worn or broken, as the worm is only pinned to the shaft. It also reduces the cost to fabricate as that continuous worm is very costly to machine. Our material costs are about $175.00, but, this is a shorter roller. Machining costs are still not cheap though. We used polished stainless for the tube, and 12L14 steel for the end caps and a different steel for the shaft. The dog and worm are hardened of course. This would also work on the Colts which is essentially the same press.

Wow John that’s fascinating, thank you for the information! I just emailed you a few follow questions.

As a follow through on this thread, here is the finished oscillating roller.


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Hi all! I’ve been a Colts fan for over 40 years, and currently have three. But I’ve been looking in vain for a Thomson Laureate. Might anyone here have seen or heard of one that might be on the market? In fact, I might even be persuaded to swap one of my perfect condition Colts for a Laureate in any condition at all…


we have a restored Colts: also with a “Thunderer” pistol mounted above it and made in same factory at about same time (1886). Also have a Nebiolo (1934), Velox (ca. 1955), Victoria ca. 1935). All except the Colts are un-restored but available for sale.

Hi all! Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose! More than a decade later, I’m still vainly searching for a Thomson Laureate platen press. I know of three extant in the US, but am beginning to think that I will likely have shuffled off this mortal coil before I ever find one that’s available :-(

Anyone out there have any leads on a Laureate? I’m not getting any younger, and this is my Great White Whale!


Lisa fetching Big Boy from Napa, CA to Prescott, AZ in 2019.

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I was Googling around about Colt’s Armory Presses and tripped over this thread so thought I should add to it.

Lisa and I have a Thomson Model C Half Super Royal-Style 5 (14x22) No. 8963.

THG, did that press come from Glen Bauder in Napa?
He has had many presses but one Colt’s he had came from the Grabhorn Press. It was donated to the SF Public Library, where it sat disassembled in the basement until, I think it was Jim Wehlege took it and reassembled it.

Lisa did indeed purchase it from Glen. I don’t have any history on it from before that.

THG, I don’t have any details about a specific press, but I know Jim Wehlege made a serious effort to collect those loose Colt’s parts back into real printing condition, not just a lobby sculpture. (He told me his method of jigging a whetstone for precise leveling of the roller tracks.) Jim put ink on more sheets than most other printers I’ve met.