Which press is “better”?

Vandercook 05 Hand Galley Proof Press


Showcard Long-Master

old auction with pics: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=390137534727

“prints up to 15” X 45” and has the inking system, and machine stand which has the foot pedal for actuating the gripper assembly”

Any input is welcome. Pros & cons of each, and what you think a decent price is for each.


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mega….. without a doubt, the Vandercook is the better of the two machines. I’ve used both styles, and would dare say that the Vandercook is probably the best built press out there.

The sign press is not bad, mind you. It’s just that the Vandercook is better. As far as the prices go….. they fluctuate considerably, depending on condition and location, so I can’t say what a good price would be. I can say that I looked at the sign press you’ve shown, and decided that it’s asking price was too high for my uses.

If you are interested in Vandercooks, you should talk to Paul who runs the Vandercook website, and probably with Gerald Lange who is quite accomplished on those kinds of machines.

That auction I linked to is not the ACTUAL press I am considering, it’s just the only pics I could find online of that model. The one I have in mind would be in very nice, restored condition.

The one thing that I think the Showcard has over the Vandercook is that it has grippers. I plan to do at least 2-color prints, and would want proper registration. I don’t think that model Vandercook has grippers, but I’m not 100% sure yet.

I have a Vandercook that has grippers and I still prefer to use pin registration when I use that press.
I have done 5 color prints this way with great success.
My choice would be the Vandercook.

Off topic maybe, but if there are any good links about using pin registration with a press like that I would love to know more.

Anyone have any experience with these presses?

I think the vandy has a cylinder that you can change packing, the show card press has a small hard impression roller you can’t pack, something to think about. Dick G.

This is hard. Another Letterpress “guru” just suggested that the Showcard was totally the way to go because it had grippers. Hmmmm.

The Vandercook would be my choice :-)

Not sure if this is relevant, but the Poco Proof site might help in devising a tympan/frisket of some kind and registration for multicolor:



The page on registration is instructive (and simply invaluable):

the problem with the showcard is it does have a gripper but you still have to pull the stock off the type. the vandy you could try to rig the stock on the cylinder, much better print. Good Luck Dick G.

Is there some known way to create “grippers” or something like that on the cylinder? That surely would be a plus.

The grippers on a Showcard are pretty awful and I wouldn’t expect much usefulness out of them. I have a Vandercook #1, one of the older, simpler Vandercooks without an inking system or grippers. I sold the Showcard, with the grippers and an ink disk, I had. I was never tempted to use it.

I have been able to do relatively good registration by simply taping a folded over strip of cardboard onto the tympan (it took a few tries to get it parallel to the axis of the cylinder). This held the paper I was printing on firmly in place. A simple tick mark on the strip assured side-to-side registration. Movement of the type on the bed gave me the ability to register in the other direction. I had the type locked up in a C&P 8x12 chase; this was locked up in the bed and the type was locked up separately in the chase. Inserting/removing 2 and 1 point leads gave me pretty exacting control of placement.

I’d recommend the Vandercook.

Paul Moxon from vandercookpress.info just replied to me. He said: “I’d say go for the Showcard because of the sheet grippers.”

I was almost surprised to hear him say that, but… he did.