Info on Washington hand press

I have an R Hoe & Co (New York - London) 6009 Washington hand press that was my Dad’s pride and joy, but he has passed away, and we are trying to find out more about it, how old and/or rare (if at all) it is, and whether there is public interest in it (e.g., a museum.) He also has type and cases. Any information anyone might have would be welcomed. Thanks!

Log in to reply   11 replies so far

There is a web site for these presses, i don’t know much about them, there is the printing museum in North Andover, MA, also John Barrett at Letterpress Things in Chicopee, MA . Can’t remember the man’s name, I think its Gary Rummonds, that has the website on these presses. Good Luck Dick G.

The going price often depends on the size of the press (smaller ones seem to be more valuable), whether it has the tympan and fisket, what part of the country you’re in, and whether it can be loaded easily. Regardless, iron hand presses have value and they are in demand. I saw one for sale in Indiana not long ago for around $2,000.

I would hope that if something were to happen to me that my hand-presses would get into the hands of someone who would actually use them. This is not always the case with museums, where I have seen many sit idle. A lot of type and equipment sells well on eBay. If you find someone to sell it for you you should expect to get half of what it is worth, because as business goes, they will expect to make money on it as well. If I were you I would make as complete a list as possible and post it here to try and get a sense of its collectibility. You may find someone who will make an offer for the whole shop, which you might consider fair. At the very least you will get a sense of what your father actually had.


The Hoe Co. made hand presses from about 1820 until about 1915 or 1920. The number is a serial number and they reached the 6000s about 1890 or so. By that time the presses were mostly heavy-duty monsters intended for precision proofing of very large photoengravings. However, they made a few smaller presses at the same time, so the number is not an accurate indication of the size.


Thanks so much for all the helpful feedback.

image: Press 2.jpg

Press 2.jpg

Just adding a couple pictures of our Washington Press to the mix! Looks like we have number 2112. The only letterpressing our shop in northeastern Connecticut does is serial numbering for tickets, but one of our pressmen and I tried making some prints off the clock on this one that sits idly in our lobby last weekend. We were far from successful in getting a nice print: our bed isn’t quite level with the press part. I’m sure with some tweaking someone could figure it out though…

Thanks for all the information on it guys!

image: sm2.jpg


image: sm1.jpg


We are looking for an iron hand press to use, not to store and look at. We are artists and want to print on it. We will take any condition. Please contact us, we will pack, ship whatever it takes. See our listing in “wanted.” And thanks for any comments to us or leads.

You can measure the platen (the big, rectangular plate that squishes down on the type) to get the size of the press. Looking at the picture, your’s seems pretty large.

Looks like you have a tympan and frisket, which is good.

To advertise it, include many pictures, many measurements, tell people where it is, tell people any known history (who was your father, what did he print, where did he get the press, what did they print, etc). Make it possible for folks to inspect it, check for crack or welds, allow for a lot of time (time for sale, time for someone to arrange for moving, months). Don’t move or disassemble it. Don’t lose any pieces. Please do sell it to someone who will use and cherish it.

There was a big Hoe press for sale on ebay last week, asking $8000, delivery and setup included!

To actually use a hand press, see Rummonds’ book: Printing on the Iron Hand Press,

To buy a hand press, look on ebay and the classifieds here. They aren’t always well advertised, so you need to search creatively (look for things like Reliance, Hoe, Albion, hand press, iron hand press, etc.)

We just got one that was advertised here back in September. I think we were the only folks who even responded to the ad.


Hmmm…I work at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, NY as an interpreter in our Print Office (in season). We have and use an 1850 Washington every day to print historic reproductions from that era. Of all the presses I have used, I like the Washington because it works as fast as you do plus the bed is horizontal and quite large.

I can see the frame of a frisket, but I don’t see the mounting for it which should run across the end closest to the camera. Looks like they were just registering it inside the corner irons.

The age can be determined by its serial number. What shape is it in? Does it have its frisket? Please contact me if it is ever for sale.
John Block
[email protected]