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Vandercook SP 15

This is the press we love to use for printing lino blocks and making pressure prints. It has a lot of potential for making fine art prints as well as letterpress posters and cards.

“The SP15, notable for its lightweight design, is a member of the “Simple Precision” series. It was specifically designed to print repro proofs from metal type forms on specially formulated paper, which were then used to make photo-litho plates for offset printing. It was also used for laboratory testing of ink and paper. Unlike earlier Vandercook models, the impression cylinder is automatically in print mode when at the feed board, thus there is no movement of the eccentric during the forward carriage travel unless it is manually shifted into trip mode.

The SP15 features the “quick change” rollers introduced with the Universal series. The gripper bar (simpler and lighter than earlier models) is the same style found on later Universals. Power ink distribution and an automatic wash up unit was standard, but a non-motorized variant, with a hand wheel mounted on the front form roller, was also available. Maximum form: 14¾ × 20"; maximum sheet: 14 × 18".  – {From Letterpress Commons}



The American Galley Proof Press

“Built in the most substantial manner, thoroughly braced, with accurate bed and cylinder. The cylinder is much heavier than on the average proof press, and consequently gives a much better impression. The best proof press made. Comes with iron stand.”

American Proof Press – Galley Proof Press, Built in the most substantial manner, thoroughly braced, with accurate bed and cylinder. The cylinder is much heavier than on the average proof press, and consequently gives a much better impression. The best proof press made. Comes with iron stand.



Showcard Press 

The Showcard sign press was designed in the mid-20th century for merchandisers, schools and others that needed the ability to quickly set type and make signs. The dawn of desktop publishing rendered them obsolete, but they live on today in the hands of printers and artists.



Shniedewend & Lee Platen Press

Schniedewend & Lee started as an electrotype company in 1870. Surviving the Chicago Fire of 1871, they started soon after to produced machinery for the printing and engraving industries. The S&L and Challenge presses were produced from 1884 to 1893, when the partners separated. Paul Schniedewend continued to sell printer’s and engraver’s machinery under his name until his death in 1913. James Lee moved his operation to Grand Haven, Michigan, starting the Challenge Company, which still exists today. They continued to make the Challenge Press until 1910.



Chandler and Price Platen Press, 10×15

Mr. Chandler & Mr. Price bought George P. Gordon’s patent, redesigned most mechanisms of his press, and began to manufacture the Chandler & Price Gordon Platen Press – the most prolific of all platen presses built by the longest-lasting American company to produce a hand-fed, flywheel-driven platen press.

The engineering that went into the venerable Chandler & Price commercial free-standing platen presses led the company to claim that their presses were “strong, reliable, simple” – and from 1887 had proved themselves to be the most profilic, and ultimately the last remaining manufacturer of hand-fed commercial, motor or treadle-driven platen presses.





Triumph Proof Press









Kelsey Table Top Press















Pilot Platen Press

The Pilot Press, manufactured for nearly 100 years by Chandler & Price and later re-produced by both Craftsmen Machinery Company of Boston and American Printing Equipment of New York, is one of the most sought-after presses in the world today.

Weighing in at 160 pounds, the cast-iron Pilot is relatively portable and can fit into most home letterpress studios. The aluminum model is quite a few pounds lighter, of course – but is just as strong and prints just as well.

The Pilot was designed and sold as a press for small job short-run printing in commercial shops as well as for teaching letterpress printing in high school or industrial trade school print shop classes. On it, the student could learn all they would need to know about set up and make ready of a hand-fed platen press, and could do it with a machine that was less expensive, safer and could fit into a classroom. These characteristics serve the letter press community of today.

This press has a 6 1/2 x 10" inside chase dimension and can print on a sheet up to 12" wide.




Vandercook 219

The 219 Proving Machine, now referred to as the 219 Old Style, was replaced by the 219 New Style in 1948. It features power driven ink distribution, pedal cylinder trip, pedal activated grippers and two swing-out paper shelves under the feed board. Optional equipment included an automatic frisket tower assembly.

Three dozen 219 Proving Machines are listed in the Vandercook census. Maximum form: 18 × 24"; maximum sheet: 19 ¾ × 26". 

The Book Arts League’s 219 resides in Longmont at the present time. We’d love to move it to the farm if possible in the future.

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