Kelsey 6x10 or C&P Pilot

I am new to letterpress and just recently found out that I would most likely benefit from a Kelsey 6x10 or C&P Pilot. I read on Dave Rose’s page that “with practice a Kelsey can turn out acceptable work” but “For more serious hobby work or small “professional” jobs, however, you may want to consider starting out with a Pilot instead.” I am a graphic designer and would like to slowly start introducing letterpress stationery. “Acceptable” just doesn’t sound acceptable….

Are the Kelsey and C&P motorized? I don’t even know where I might begin to learn to use them. Would it be crazy to purchase one without ever having used it even if it is a beginner’s model?

Any advise out there for me?



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You should check out the Excelsior Press site, he has videos of different presses running. The table top presses are ok, but expensive, the c&p’s will print better and are cheaper, but if your not careful you can get hurt, i don’t know where your located but you should go somewhere to see some of these presses before you get one that you won’t be happy with. Also some lessons would be advised, there are many places around to see the old stuff and get lessons. Good Luck Dick G.


I’m repeating a post on this topic a few weeks ago. I’m very much a newbie in letterpress, so I only have very limited experience. (My comments may not even be applicable to your case).

The FiveRoses site has some info on both tabletop presses:

I had the fortunate experience of taking a basic letterpress class where there was a Kelsey Excelsior and C&P Pilot sitting next to each other. So all the students got to try both presses.

I have to say that the C&P Pilot was the “more solid” press. The Excelsior was kinda “clunky” and sounded clunky. Maybe it was the way the presses were configured/set. The Pilot consistently produced better results (even to the eyes of the newbie students). So much so that all the students lined up to use the Pilot.

Both the Kelsey 6x10 and the Pilot C&P are table-top presses and are not motorized.

A Kelsey should cost about $500 to $700 (based on what I’ve seen on Briar Press).

The Pilot is definitely more expensive ($2000 to over $3000), but I think its worth the wait.

Thanks for the info. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to look to see where I might be able to try out a press where I am located. I am in South Texas (McAllen to be exact).

I have visited the FiveRoses blog and have found that useful and I did contact someone from Excelsior site for some refurbished presses. I found a Kelsey 6x10 for $1600.

Are there any table top motorized presses? Are they hard to use, not motorized ones I mean?


No, they are not hard to operate. With the Pilot, you pull the handle down and it prints. There is no motor. I would never pay $1,600 for a Kelsey. For that kind of money, and probably much less, you can get a Pilot if you look around a little.

Excelsior presses are beautifully restored, i owned a 6x10, they don’t have the strength of a pilot or craftsman, but they are capable of doing a beautiful job. The motorized c&p or other floor model presses are for longer runs, and are capable of bitting off fingers if you are not careful. The table top press like kevin says are not that hard to operate, the price of these presses has been all over the place, i’ve seen them go for a few hundred to a few thousand. Unless you are printing thousands of copies, the table top is where i would start. If you buy one far away shipping is a problem, most private sales the people have little or no shipping experience with cast iron machines, many presses arrive in many pieces. One thing about Excelsior Press, He knows how to crate them so they arrive intact. If you can pick up your press that would be the best . Good Luck Dick G.