US stop cylinder presses

Having “finished” my paper on the bed and platen book presses (it’ll appear on my new website and there’ll be a heads-up posted here soon) I am gathering material for a techno-historical paper on US-built stop cylinders, from Hoe’s initial “high stop cylinder” by Stephen Tucker up to the early 20th century. Help is needed, if anyone wishes to do so. At this point, absolutely any sort of information, imagery or anecdote is welcome—and very much appreciated. Doug

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OK. Here’s an anecdote for you… From 1950 until just this summer - July 2009, the Garfield, NJ Messenger was printed from hot metal and hand type on one of the last stop-cylinder flatbed presses made by ATF - the Kelly model Three.

Yes. A letterpress-printed newspaper in New Jersey - published until July, 2009….

This press, the Linotype used to set the type and the hand-fed Dexter folder used to fold the 23x35” sheets down to tabloid size are all in danger of being scrapped - UNLESS a good home can be found for them.

For more on this living dinosaur -

Anyone with an interest in these old presses will enjoy the video. Anyone with an interest AND the shop space AND something large-format to print - might want to consider rescuing - and using - this press.

- Alan

Hi, all—

I hadn’t realized that Kelly made any stop-cylinder machines. I’ve worked on a Kelly No. 2 and a C Kelly; they were both two-revolution machines.

I’ve always thought it ironic that the Vertical was a single-revolution machine, given that (as I understand it) Robert Miehle was the inventor of the two-revolution machine.


From the video, the Kelly 3 doesn’t appear to be a stop-cylinder machine, but a two-revolution cylinder like the other Kellys (my own experience is only with the Kelly Clipper). It may be that the Kelly Automatic Jobber was a stop-cylinder machine; it seems a rather odd hybrid with the Vertical (see ATF ‘23).
I hope somebody does save these machines. There aren’t many shops left like this.

i am not too familiar with cylinder presses, what the heck is a stop cylinder, dont they all stop sooner or later. i do know the museum of printing in north andover, massachusetts has a hoe, hand fed cylinder press that came form the hingham journal, a weekly 8 page newspaper, they stopped running the paper letterpress back in the early 1980’s, donated the press to the museum, which now has it on display. i’m probably the only one left alive that ever saw the press run. when the hingham journal bought the press i think it was before 1910, they hired a 13 year boy to help on the press, i worked part time mostly nights tsarting about 1970 the 13 year old boy was still running the same press he worked on since at least 1910. i had heard horror stories about the press, the whole printing shop was on the second floor of an old wooden building in hingham square, they would run 4 pagees on thursday, then print the back on friday, i worked all day wednesday, but had never worked on thursday. once the publisher asked me to come in on thursday cause the intertype wasn’t running very good and they weren’t going to have enough type set, so i came in and the 83 year old pressman said to me you never saw this press run have you, i said not yet, so i helped load the press, they locked two full sized newspaper pages in each chase, then put two chases in the press. when it was time to print harry, the pressman told me to hang onto my socks, were going for a ride. the intertype was in the front of the building with windows behind it looking into the center of town, the press was in the middle of the building. when he hit the switch, it sounded like a freight train coming through the building, the i almost fell out of the chair, looking out the window everything was blurry, i stood up and looked in the pot of lead, which was really swishing from side to side, i glanced at the perss in horror and harry and his helper were dying laughing at me, a made my way to the men’s room, rocking all the way, themens room had a hand rail to hang on to and the water in the toilet almost splashed out, when i settled down i went back to work. after the run, harry said to me the look on my face was priceless, i said you do the weekly? he told me the building was specially pinned, when the type traveled one way the whole building went 3/4 of an inch it don’t sound like much but i will never forget that ride. dick g.

Quite a scene. For a couple years I fed a Miehle 4-2R, but the only excitement was when the pistons were misadjusted and the press would slide a couple inches every time the bed reversed.
A stop-cylinder is the oldest flatbed cylinder design, going back to Koenig in 1812, but long used in the UK with the Wharfedale cylinder, and also seen in Asia. The cylinder stops while the bed reverses direction, also giving time to position the sheet, which is fed under the cylinder.
Miehle didn’t invent the two-revolution machine but his was the first in general use and had many improvements over other presses of the time (1887). The original two-revolution design, cylinder grippers, and shooflies are credited to Napier by 1830, and he also invented the cylinder trip which raised and lowered the cylinder. With the stop-cylinder I believe the bed slides back under a recess in the cylinder.
The Vertical was designed by Edward Cheshire, who built four presses before selling rights to Miehle in 1921.