Buying a tabletop letterpress

I have taken one letterpress class and fell in love with it. I would like to purchase a tabletop letterpress so I can print business cards and other small stuff. I just don’t know what to look for. What shall I look for in classifieds? What is a must-have and what isn’t?
Thank you!

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You should visit a museum and check out some of the presses. Depends on where you’re located, Excelsior Press in New Jersey sells used presses and supplies, there is Don Black in Canada also Letterpress Things in Massachusetts. Check the yellow pages on this site to find someone near you. Good Luck Dick G.

First thing is to read five roses description of equipment.

I have a Craftmen Superior table top lever press similar to a Pilot and love it. I also have a small Signpress proof press similar to a Showcard or Nolan. It is terrific as well. Each press has it’s limitations, and I soon found that I wanted a larger press.

I personally prefer the Pilot style press over a Kelsey style because of the ease of pulling the handle. Completely depends on the number of impressions you will make. Kelsey presses are more available and often sell for less.

If you have the space, You will find that it is more economical to purchase an 8x12 or 10x15 floor model. It will cost you some to move the press, but a nice Pilot can sell for more than $1500. I bought my 10x15 floor model for $200. We asked kindly, and a local lumber yard loaded the press with their fork lift, and another kind person unloaded the press. Both for free. It took a couple weeks to set up the free part.

Think long term, and be patient looking for a nearby deal. Tell all your friends and relatives about your experience in class. Ask if they know anyone interested selling a press. I found my 10x15 this way, and a free cabinet of type plus 300+ lbs of free ink.

Every beginner should also know: You can always print small on a big press, but your cannot print big on a small press.

Good luck, Justin

Thank you all! This is great. I am more excited now.
Some offers include new rollers and some don’t. Some include quoins and some don’t. Does it really matter what comes with the press? I am guessing I can buy missing parts…

rollers are expensive, they can cost between 80 and 150 dollars each, where are you located, there are a few presses for sale in my area, southeastern massachusetts. Dick G.

What’s for sale in your area, Dick?

there is a 7x11 (i think) Pearl, a nice 10x15 c&p with some type with it, and a pcoc proof press. Dick G.

I am in Salt Lake City, Utah area.

Hello also looking for presses in Massachusetts would be grateful if anyone know of any, I made the silly mistake of buying a B Grauel Model B3 an offset press… Likely difficult to retrofit for letter pressing?

much thanks


You are very fortunate, if you live in MA, since you have John Barrett’s “Letterpress Things,” in the Springfield area. You will need to contact him for the next open date..


Dave G.

Has anyone bought the Adana? Looks great and easy to use are you able to use polymer plates on them?