(WORK IN PROGRESS!!!) Finding and purchasing your first letterpress machine can be a daunting prospect. This guide is intended help you avoid some of the pitfalls.
The majority of tabletop letterpresses to be found in the UK are ADANA presses. There are a number of different ones that have been manufactured:
There were quite a few printing press manufacturers supplying tabletop presses alongside of their jobbing presses to the UK market. However due to the dominance of ADANA if you do decide to purchase a press made by Model, Golding, Pearl, Ideal etc etc. you will find it more difficult to source parts and accessories.
There are various types of presses:
- Lever Press
The lever presses renge in size from ones that can just about print a business card (2" x 3" chase) to ones that a couple of people will struggle to lift into the boot of a car (11" x16" chase). Lever presses are the doorway into the world of letterpress for many hobbyist.
The early lever presses were hand inked. The operator would ink up the type using a hand brayer. These were superseded by the self-inking models that we mainly see today with rotating ink discs and rollers.
Lever Press Manufacturers:
Models: (see above)
Chandler & Price
Curtis & Mitchell Columbian (CMC)
- No.0 (chase size: 2.1/4" x 3.3/4")
- No.1 (chase size: 3.1/8" x 5.1/8")
- No.2 (chase size: 5" x 7.5")
- No.3 (chase size: 6" x 9")
- No.4 (chase size: 7" x 10.5")
- Iron Hand Press
- Wooden Hand Press
Johann Gutenberg (c.1398-1468), was the european pioneer of printing with his use of movable type and other innovations. Gutenberg adapted the screw mechanism being used in wine making to develop his first wooden hand press. These presses are mainly large floor standing presses that could produce up to 250 copies per hour with two people operating them. There are tabletop examples that can print foolscap size and larger floor standing examples with a 21" x 18" print area.
- Platten Jobber
Platten Jobber Manufacturers:
- No.3 High Speed (chase size: 6" x 9")
- No.5 Job (chase size:7" x 11")
- No.6 Job (chase size: 9" x 13")
- Rail Press
- Galley Proof Press
Vandercook and Poco are two names synonymous galley proof presses. Bench mounted models are available with print areas up to 20" x 24". Models such as the Vandercook SP-15 are probably best moved by professional movers due to their weight. Galley proof presses are still widely used today for limited edition print runs due to the quality and detail of the print they can produce.