Wednesday, 2 May 2007

The Letterpress Saga: Part Two

When we arrived at Steve's place, in a tiny town on the other side of the Cascades, we found a letterpress wonderland. Seriously, he has everything – a Chandler & Price Old Style like mine, another larger letterpress, an incredible linotype machine (about 1886), a Rosback punching machine and an impossible-to-find Rosback Pony Six, just to name a few.

He's been collecting all these amazing old machines from all up and down the West Coast, saving them from disrepair – or, worse, destruction at the hands of scrap metal merchants.

He has an entire workshop/studio set up as a traditional print shop, and it's stunning. I got a tour of the whole place and learned so much – and that was before the letterpress lesson.

This (above and below) is the linotype machine, which Thomas Edison described as "the eighth wonder of the world". Introduced in 1886, it revolutionised the printing industry by allowing printers to set a complete line of type using the Linotype's 90-character keyboard (below). Previously, they had to set movable type by hand – one... letter... at... a... time...

This (below) is Steve operating his C & P Old Style – it's just like mine except it has a treadle. And of course, is currently much, much cleaner! My next time-consuming job will be cleaning every inch of this monster, making it immaculate and ready to run...

I got enough stuff from Steve – furniture, leads, quoins, paper, ink, quads, chases – to last a lifetime! Also a composing stick, a stone, a furniture cabinet, type cases, a key, two planers and a line gauge.

Next episode: the exciting stuff. The hours in which we do not know whether the letterpress will see the morning...


  1. Man, i just have the same letterpress machine aChandler and price Old Style, my family situation is being a little hard nowadays so we decided to sell it, but we don´t know how we could have the money it really worth, so at your point o view how $?

  2. It's hard to say without knowing more about the press ... factors that go into the price you'll get include such diverse things as where it's been stored, whether it has run recently, what parts are missing, any rust, and even its current location (eg: letterpresses in basements are notoriously hard to sell because of the difficulty of moving them up stairs!) You could get a lot more advice from experts in the Discussion forum at Briar Press:
    Good luck! I'm sure you'll find someone to buy it and love it. These letterpresses are beautiful pieces of history, and need good homes!