Registration/Printing on a Proof Press

Thanks to another kind member of this group I was provided with some typman for my Poco #0 proof press today. So excited this morning I figured out how to get the new tympan on the press and run a couple prints just laying the paper over the type on the bed. The prints were lovely and I was so happy.

Now I am in tears because I spent the rest of the day trying everything to figure out a registration technique that would work for actual jobs. Laying the paper over the type just doesnt do it.

I tried using the roller as the base for the paper that I was trying to print on and tried three different kinds of guage pins to hold the paper in place but you cant put a flat gauge pin in a round cylinder and even when you do the paper pops back out of them.

Then I tried tape on the cylinder and that is just ridiculous.

Then I tried another members suggestion to use these little plastic stop thingies but that didnt work because my paper was much thicker than the paper he was using and the paper just popped back off those as well.

Finally I tried creating my own frisket to try that method building that out of wood with no luck. Using magnets, no luck.

How in the H*ll is this thing actually supposed to work. The platen uses the gauge pins to hold the paper in place and then the bed closes on the paper - print - simple.

Photos would be MORE than helpful as I am so beyond frustrated and have no idea what a lot of the words that you all use to explain this stuff mean without seeing it.

Please help me - I really like this press and would like to be able to use it but it is NO use to me if I cant use it for actual jobs.

Thanks in advance for any help. Sorry to be so down but this has been a VERY long unsuccessful day.


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Proof presses, especially the more simple ones such as the Poco, were not designed to do regular print runs. They were designed to take a proof of a form for the purpose of making corrections to it. Registration was not an issue. Of course, the larger proof presses incorporated the ability to register but that was because they were intended for more elaborate proofing needs than copy correction.

A number of people have made successful friskets for their Pocos but at least the ones I’ve seen are more involved than one might make quickly in a single day. Here is a link that has some detailed information and photos:

Don’t be discouraged, you can make it happen.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

Hi Brandi,
Well known author, illuminator, woodcutter and printer Valenti Angelo used a Poco press equiped with a tympan and frisket to print books and artwork for many years. It can be done, but it helps to have some idea as to how the process works. I would recommend finding a copy of Lewis Allen’s “Printing on the Handpress” or Gabriel Rummonds’ “Printing on the Iron Handpress” to understand what you must do to make a tympan and frisket work. Don’t get too caught up in Rummonds minutiae, it really is simpler that he shows. I am attaching two diagrams from the book “The Relief Print” edited by Ernest Watson and Norman Kent. The image is from a section written by Allen Lewis who was a very talented wood engraver. It will give you an idea of some simple registration techiques that can be put together with a few tools (a printer’s chase, some furniture and quoins).

To make a proper tympan and frisket you would have to attach three thin metal frames to a metal chase the size of the impression area of your press. Following Rummonds method you would only need two. Since the Poco is designed to print in both directions you would need to construct a tympan that opens to the far side of the press so you would not be forced to roll the cylinder twice and take the risk of slurring the image. These diagrams should at least get you started.

I once constructed a small registration board using a piece of 5 line furniture turned on end (which is somewhat less than type high) with three round head slotted screws set in an ‘L’ shape (like the diagram noted ‘J’). After setting the screws so the slots were at right angles, I ground down the inside half of the screw so I could register into what would have been the slot. Necessity is….


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Paul - thank you so much for the images. I found the book on amazon and unfortunately they are well over $150 so I will have to wait a bit on purchasing those.

I totally get these images but my only question is - where do you get “attach three thin metal frames” to build a frisket. I am not lazy and I will build it but dont know where to go or what to purchase.

In the meantime I will put out a wanted ad for a frisket in the classifieds! Maybe someone has one that they are willing to part with!

Thank you again for the images - they are VERY helpful!

Rich - I had seen those photos before but had no idea where to purchase or get the things needed to create what the guy in the photo created. I tried emailing him directly but with no response. Thanks for the link though!


Hi Brandi,

Check for the books.


Hey Brandi,I don’t have any advice,but I DO have a Poco 0 that I recently acquired,and I am wondering how your process is coming along,and whether you have any insight to share concerning the construction of a tympan/frisket?

Brandi- Registration on a Poco is not difficult. A friend of mine routinely does close register work with up to twelve colors on a 12 x 18 Poco….. with no tympan or frisket at all

She uses a very simple pin-register system where she has two needles set into a piece of furniture that are almost type high. This register device is then locked up in her form at the head end, along the edge. On the first impression, the pins are pressed into the paper. Then on each successive run, she lines up the paper onto the pin-holes. After she’s completely done with the edition, she cuts off the paper edge with the pin-holes. For multi-color printing on a Poco, it works like a charm.

We used a similar technique (but not identical) at the Tamarind school many years ago…. and I use it myself from time to time on my cylinder proof press. It is shown in their book “Tamarind Techiniques for Fine Art Lithography” and in many of their basic textbooks. I’d bet Powell’s would have a copy.

Ah yes, I had forgotten all about registration pins. Here’s an ad from the 1908 ATF catalog.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

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Here’s a closer look at the text. Hopefully it is more legible.

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winking - thanks so much for this tip - that sounds interesting - I might be able to do something like that!

Blaine - I gave up on the Poco and moved back to my Pearl - I will give the tip winking gave me a try. The inking was a real pain with the poco as well so I figured the Pearl would just be a simpler solution for now ;-)

That registration tool looks pretty cool as well!

Brandi….. if you decide that your Poco is not the press you need, let me know. I’m looking for one right now… and have a Craftsman press that I’d be will to trade for it.

I wonder if standard stripping pins could work as well. You would have to punch every sheet however.

Lammy- standard stripping registration pins would indeed work if you wanted to punch every sheet. They work well, in fact. A Japanese friend of mine uses just that system for printing multi-color prints, then cuts off the punched edge.

My own pin-register system uses two large needlework needles set unto a piece of furniture so that the points are type high. The resulting holes are quite small, but they do the trick.

Hmmm…..Maybe this is sort of off topic but it’s related. I’m wondering how to get registration down pat on a Vandercook. I use polymer plates and a boxcar base, and I’m having a heck of a time, even with crop marks on my plates. What are some other techniques you more experienced printers have used?

One technique that has been used a lot is to lock up with quoins on all four sides of the printing material. That way you can shift the forme a small amount in any direction simply by loosening quoins on one side and tightening on the other. If you mount your PP plate on the base as close as you can to the right position using the grid, you can then adjust the fine position with the quoins. The Challenge High-Speed quoins make this pretty easy and would give you about 1/8 inch or more of adjustment.


There will be many demonstrations and such at the combined APA Wayzgoose and the Midwest & Great Northern Printer’s Fair this year at Mt. Pleasant, IA.

One of the things that I will be demonstrating is how to get registration down pat on a Poco, Vandercook, Nolan, Showcard, or just about any other proof press. There is no charge for any of the workshops, but you would have to be registered for the wayzgoose to take part. A whole series of demonstrations, workshops, seminars, etc. will be held on Thursday and Friday, September 17 and 18 starting around 8:00 a,m, and continuing well into the evening each day. There will be a letterpress fleamarket on Saturday morning, followed by a letterpress auction in the afternoon.

The Wayzgoose registration fee is $70 for APA members and $80 for non-members. This fee includes a Saturday lunch, a Saturday banquet dinner, a keepsake T-shirt, and snacks and refreshments Thursday and Friday evenings.

For those wishing to only attend the Great Northern Printer’s Fair part of it on Saturday, there is a $5 admission fee which does not include any meals or snacks (or T-shirt!)

There will be a much more informative posting on Briar Press as we get a little closer to the date.

I struggled with this registration problem and came up with my own method. I got a long piano hinge (the wider of the two versions) and I cut some binder board to fit the size of the press bed. I then screw the board onto the hinge. I found some tiny screws that don’t protrude to far. Then I lock this assembly up in with furniture so that it opens parallel to the length of the bed—if you were standing at the end of the press bed the assembly would open like a book. I run it through the press all locked in and it makes a faint impression on the underside of the board so I can see where to cut the opening with an exacto knife. Then I glue or tape stops to the top of this board for registration using semi transparent paper cut to the size of my paper I will be printing on. I like to do a corner and a guide along a long edge. I made up several hinge board assemblies and fortunately I have a mat cutter that makes it easy to cut the davey board/book board to size. Of course an exacto knife would do the job. I’ll try to get photos to post. . I lay a paper pack on top to adjust the impression.

portraitpainter - that sounds very interesting - I will have to give that a try. I would love to see photos but you have done a great job describing - or at least I think I get it!

Thanks so much for taking the time to share!

Ok, I went over to my studio and photographed but it was so hot and humid I could barely see the screen on the camera! I hope this will help— the order of the images is not logical. The first image shows the device on my Line-o-Scribe. The second image shows the device with window already cut out and locked up on the Poco. The third image shows the process of using semi transparent cut to size paper to figure where to put the registration strips. The last image I hope shows the screws. I use a Japanese hole punch to cut out the holes exactly where I want them. I quickly realized that only two or three are needed to hold the device totally in place with no movement. The bolts were from a drawer at the hardware store and they came as a set where the tiny bolt and a sort of flanged threaded tiny pipe fit together (similar to something used to hold scrapbooks together—post and ???. I used the bolt but found a correct sized nut to fit on it. You could use longer bolts and have some sort of low furniture alongside of the hinge. The piano hinges come in two widths and the wider one works better but I can’t remember if it was 5/8” or something else.
I do think the pin registration idea could work very well and am thinking of trying it out. I read on a printmaking site about using a hole punch device sold to fit into a notebook for students. It would punch the holes in the excess paper edge and also hold the paper for printing. I’m not sure how it could be locked up in the form. The thrifty part of me hates to waste paper…

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Oops—somehow the images uploaded in reverse order so first is last etc.

Now, how can we make some sort of runners to control the ink roller….

I cant wait to give this a try - how clever portraitpainter! Now why couldn’t I have been that clever!

Great photos as well - thank you so much for sharing!


Hi Brandi,
I’m just starting out with a poco proof press and i’m wondering if you can tell me how you figured out how to put new tympan on the press. Is there somewhere I can look that has easy instructions on that— how much is needed, how to get it on right, etc?


Hi Lesley, I have actually asked this same question in the past! The link to the answer is below - I would have tried to type it out myself but I think these instructions are much better than anything I could come up with!

The tip is from portraitpainter and she copied the actual Poco instructions from somewhere. Actually the entire post is very helpful so you may want to read through!

Best of Luck!

Thanks so much, Brandi! That’s fantastic— so helpful!