Tabletop Kelsey Victor Press or Golding 7X11 Press

In your opinion which is better?
Please let me know

Thank you!!

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What do you want to use it for?

Printing invites, cards, coasters, small prints

Probably either press will do what you want. Certainly on a non-commercial basis. I wouldn’t use either press if you want to make money with this endeavor. If that is the case, go look for a Heidelberg, Kluge, larger C&P or Miehle, etc.

The printer, as much or even more, than the press, determines the quality of the print. One of the best printers I know uses a Kelsey 9x13; a press many experienced printers think incapable of quality work.

The Victor seems to be a 6x9 press (54 square inches). The Golding comes in several models (Does it have a throw-off lever?) but at 77 square inches it has roughly 50% more printing area. Unfortunately, you can’t just use the entire chase area for printing. For most presses somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the available chase area is a practical limit to what can be printed at one time. Beyond that impression quality suffers and/or you can break the press by applying too much pressure. Larger chase sizes have a natural advantage here. I’ve hear the figure of 84 pounds per square inch as necessary to achieve good ink transfer to paper, so larger presses tend to be built stronger.

If you are looking for fairly large press runs, say 250 or more, then a press with a flywheel, such as the Golding has an advantage over a lever tabletop like the Victor. You’ll print faster and with less total energy expenditure, even if you’re using a treadle instead of a motor, with the Golding. There’s less of a difference with short runs. Time spent on setting type, proofing, making ready, cleanup and distribution of the type (assuming metal type) is independent of the press used…and usually takes more time than the actual printing.

The Golding is a fine press that many printers use very successfully and is sought after by many. Though, I’ve also heard them referred to as fussy, particularly in platen adjustment. The Victor is a somewhat scarcer press and I’ve heard people complain about the quality of construction, say in comparison to a similar sized Golding Official or Sigwalt.

Assuming you’re a beginner and want to learn about the practical aspects of letterpress, either press will teach you that. After that beginning stage, the Victor’s size limitations will probably frustrate you some. The same could be said for the Golding 7x11, but it might take a little longer.

Of course you can just go ahead and get both. The Golding for larger jobs and the Victor for smaller jobs and the inevitable printing demos you’ll be asked to make. It’s is a lot easier to move around.

I have four presses just now. The main one is a treadled 8x12 C&P OS. A Vandercook #1 proof press is for slightly larger formats, but seldom gets used. A 4x6 Golding Official is my demo press to take on the road.(3 or 4 times a year) and a wooden parlor press sits on the shelf as a curiosity. I use these for a hobby enterprise; printing mostly ephemera and small journals for NAPA, APA and occasionally for AAPA, seldom exceeding press runs of 500. These presses are adequate for my level of activity, but if I were going to do even a little more, (especially if I were going to accept money for my printing efforts) I’d be looking for a Heidelberg or larger C&P, etc.

Thank you soooo much for your thoughtful insight! I greatly appreciate it! I am a beginner. And also the press I referred to as a Kelsey Victor is wrong, it is actually a Cooks Victor.

I am just nervous because I am just starting out. I have always loved letterpress and don’t have a tremendous amount of room, and wanted to hear what some people thought who have more experience than I.

I have also heard that the platen press with fly runs you the risk of chopping fingers, which needless to say, makes me worry.

I would most certainly use polymer plates since I am a designer. and I would love to have a Heidelberg, but that just is not in the cards for me right now…this is just to get me up and running!

Thank you!