Anyone heard of a TIP TOP press?

Today I acquired a press but I have no idea exactly what it is. The only thing I can see on it so far to brand it, is the words TIP TOP that are cast in the stand. It came from a small printing firm (in Sydney, Australia) who shut their doors a number of years ago and has been sitting doing nothing in storage since then. It is still well oiled and all the bits move so I am hoping that I can get it going one day soon. Looking forward to hearing anyones thoughts. I’ve been told it might have been manufactured in America.

image: a0b6_1.JPG


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Odd looking beast.
It appears to me that without a delivery board between the operator and the platen, it would be way too easy to get too near the press and be able to have your hand in there where and when it shouldn’t be.
Some folks don’t follow the rules with a C & P or a Kluge hand fed press and chase a misfeed and get injured. Those presses have delivery boards. It is not nice to see a press that makes it even easier to do something stupid.
Be careful, very careful.

No, I do have a couple of boards - they were taken off while it was in storage (which is where this photo is from). I promise you, I’m not about to put my hand in this thing too quickly :)

The press bears resemblance to Rockstroh-Werke AG’s British produced ‘VICOBOLD’. The flywheel is unique to that model. Are there identifying numbers stamped (not cast) on any machined parts of the press?

I’m going to have a climb over it this weekend and see if I can find any other identifying marks/words or numbers. Thanks for your help Forme.


Just came across this PDF on Daniel Petrzelka’s website that you might be interested in. The last page shows a picture of your “Tip Top” press.

Sorry, not much in the way of info (one pic & a paragraph). When I got to that page I thought to myself that I’d seen that somewhere before.


Thank you so much Jason. It’s a little bit more of the jigsaw puzzle completed.

sarahvw and jason.tollefsen:
Please note: Tip Top press has ink disk. Thomson, Laureate, and Colts Armory Presses have ink drum.
Back to the research department!!!

sarahvw and jason.tollefsen:
Please rewind and erase my previous comment. Yes, Tip Top press is on last page!!

Worked a Vicobold press for a long time.
I think it is “Pommie” [English]
My model had excellent impression capacity as the whole paper platen advances directly and in parallel on to the type. Yours looks the same as the one I had. Impression adjustment is by the big screw at the knees of the operator. I found it important and useful to back off the impression when ever changing paper stocks and then bringing on the impression to suit the job in hand.
Very important to keep the runners/tracks/bearers freshly oiled as they can wear at the point of impression and when worn can cause blurring of image. In fact the whole machine should be “flooded” with clean endine oil at the right joints and wells. If I remember correctly the paper platen opens out flat before the operator. I think this was made to accommodate an automatic feeding mechanism. I’m talking from distant memory, and can easily be confused with the many other platens I’ve worked.
William Amer, Compositor,

Apologies for my misspelling of “engine” in the previous answer. Not good for a proofreader and a man of letters.
William Amer

You may have all the information you need now - but I saw one of these Vicobold presses working last night in Faversham, Kent at Ed Denovan’s printworks! He kindly showed me around his Intertype line casters and Monotype casters, two massive cylinder presses …and I saw some beautiful things he has made with the Vicobold platen. You may not need him now, but if you encounter a technical problem in the future I am confident that Ed could offer excellent help.
Contact him on [email protected]
I contacted him after buying some fancy lines from him on Ebay as I have recently begun letterpress with an Adana 85.
I wish I had a Vicobold!
best wishes
Heather Haythornthwaite
Hazelnut Press

The Tip-Top platen was adverstised in the American magazine Inland Printer in 1925, according to the American Pressman 75th anniversary issue on the development of the printing press, 1965. Yours looks like a nice solid press.
It isn’t exactly like a Vicobold in that this platen is hinged at the bottom, technically a clamshell. Vicobolds and Victorias (I have the 15x21 model) are parallel-impression platens, with cylindrical inking (except for the smallest and cheapest models like the Kobold with ink plates and hinged platens). They were made in Saxony and later copied in England.
Some presses of this type did have feed tables attached, but most were used with free-standing feed-tables, which are actually more versatile with larger sheet sizes.

Johne-Werk BAUTZEN
The pressure lever on the left hand side (red handle) looks different than the original and also the foot-motion lever is missing.

i love inky!!! lol

hi sarahw
I have bought a similar press
and I print with “her”, after
I have repaired some troubles.
Is your press working now ?
I’m in Brittany, and my press was
doing nothing since a long time !
Sorry for my english language !


The maker of the automatic machine is said Johne-Werk Grafische Maschine - Aktiengesellschaft BAUTZEN is made ​​in Germany in early 1900.
I have one similar.
If you learned anything new until now please enimeroseme.

D. Dimitropoulos
from Greece

it would be interesting to confirm whether this is a parallel impression press, as the ad in Inland printer claims it is, but looks slightly different in photo but I can’t expand it enough to check………………….

The press shown is absolutely not parallel-impression (press-makers often had different designs in their line). It is hinged at the bottom, no further articulaton, and so is a clamshell. But then a Windmill or a Golding are technically clamshells and do fine work. This particular Tip Top looks like a very solid press, compared to some Gordons. The clutched flywheel alone improves it as a job press.