Adana—lead type or polymer plates

Hi, there—

I’m new to letterpress, obviously, and am looking for a press. Ebay seems a bit scary to me, as much of what I’ve seen there doesn’t seem to be listed by people who know what they’re talking about or is in rough shape…or somewhat expensive. I’ve contacted Caslon about a reconditioned Adana as an option.

I’ve been asked whether I plan to use lead type or polymer plates. From what I’ve read, I had thought I’d be able to use both. Is that incorrect?



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You can use both lead and photopolymer on an Adana…. or any other small letterpress. As long as the top of the printing surface on the PP plate / type / block or whatever is at “type high”, the press doesn’t care. In my shop we routinely print from a wide variety of blocks, plates and type on a small Kelsey, which is very similar to the Adanas. Some of it’s wood, some plastic, and some is PP plate material…. and it all works just fine.

The only reason I can think of for even asking is if they are going to provide a base of some sort for your PP plates. If they offer a base, I’d recommend getting it.

Thank you! I’m also wondering if they would supply different rollers for lead than for photopolymer. I did some more research and saw a comment that the rollers they first came with wore out quickly with photopolymer…or vice versa.

I’ll ask a little more—I’m going to end up teaching myself, as there are no classes in my area. I’m sure I’ll be here more.

Thanks again,



You can print from plates or type on any small letterpress.
The problems will occur when you try to print something
that the press cannot handle because of “impressional strength” or inadequate inking system. All small presses as do large presses have a limit to what they can do. You should start with type, learn as you go, and then go to plates keeping in mind that if you have a small press, do not try to do the impossible. Most of the presses that are out there were designed for printing from type. Polymer plates were not even heard of.


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