Greetings and I’d appreciate your help. I have an opportunity to purchase a Hamilton letter press cabinet. The cabinet is very attractive. The wood has a nice patina to it, all of the hardware (like the pulls) is original and in excellent condition, the original manufacturer’s plate is attached, all of the drawers slide easily, and the interior compartments are all clean and intact….remarkable condition considering the cabinet’s age. The overall measurements are 36” wide x 45” high x 24” deep and has 24 drawers. Here is my question: What should I pay for a cabinet like this? I know less is better…..but what would a fair market value be? Thank you.

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Depends on where your are and what someone else might be willing to pay for it. In the mid-70s I bought my first wood type cabinet, pretty much as you decribe, devoid of type, and paid $150 for it. I have also paid as little as $15 for them over the years, but have also seen antique dealers ask for well over $1,000 for them.

There is no right answer, what’s it worth to you.

Are the “drawers” actually type cases? A lot depends on what kind of cases they are and what area of the country you’re in. But there’s really no way to put a “fair” price on something like this. You need to try and determine the going price in your geographic area and base your view of whether it’s a good deal or not on that. But keep in mind that some people will give this stuff away and others want $2000 because it’s a “rare antique” of “immense historical value”.

In my opinion if you can get it for $400 or less you will have gotten a reasonable deal. But don’t be afraid to allow the buyer to accept less if he wants to. A deal is fair if both the buyer and seller are happy with the transaction. If he asks $200, offer $150. If he asks $1000, keep looking. If you have to make an offer, start at $100 and negotiate from there unless you think he’ll take $50. So you see, it’s not a set formula. He owns the item and has ultimate control of the transaction so you can’t “cheat” him. Try and arrive at a figure you’re both happy with.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

Foolproof546 and Rich,
Thanks to both of you for your reply and thoughtful advice. I’m about 20 minutes south of downtown Seattle. I appreciate the numbers you provided….what I might find out on the open market and what your own experiences have been. I’m not in the letter press business….but appreciate the artform and equipment. The guy who owns this particular Hamilton cabinet (and Rich the drawers are actual type cases with all of their original small compartments) is seriously considering taking the 24 drawers out and selling them individually. I’m an old retired history teacher who has an affinity for tools and shops…etc. I’m not in the business of saving endangered species….but I thought if I could pick it up for a decent price….and pass it along to somebody in the industry….or a serious hobbyist…..that would be pretty neat. So, I’ll take your advice into account and talk to the guy again on Friday. Thanks. Joe

Are you the same Joe Gotchy that was my high school history teacher at FWHS?