Vermont Public TV program request

Dan Lyons has asked us to post the following inquiry:

“I am a producer with Vermont Public Television and I am making a 1-hour film about the history of newspapers in the state. I was sent your way by the Shelburne Museum. I was hoping to film a scene there with a 18th century press. Unfortunately, their press is all iron and dates from 1830. Would you happen to know of a late 17th century press that is in working condition?”

The Briar Press Museum shows a photo of the Franklin Common Press that was on exhibit at the Smithsonian and I know a few replicas were made. The question is if anyone knows if there is a replica like this or a wooden hand press that is in working condition?

image: press.gif


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Colonial Williamsburg, in Virginia, would be one option.

The Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA, has a Franklin-era press:

If you don’t mind going out of state you could probably use the reproduction wooden Common press that is/was at Old Deerfield, MA in a reproduction print shop. However, if you just want to photo a press the Vermont Historical Society has the press supposedly used by Stephen and Matthew Daye, who were the first printers in North America, though not in Vermont. Also, John Williams has a reproduction Common press he built, with which he demonstrates at Heritage New Hampshire, and he might be willing to take it to a location for you or let you film him there.

If you’d like more info feel free to contact me.


The 18th century press here at the Museum of Printing is a replica English Common Press. IIRC it was built in 1949 at Colonial Williamsburg. It is fully functional.


Hi Bob. What’s the best way to contact you? I would very much like to contact John Williams.

Thanks very much,

dan lyons

Thanks, Glenn. Would you have time for a brief phone call. I’m in touch with the museum of printing right now but could use your help as well.


Hi, Dan,

I left a “comment” message at the VPT website yesterday — but you can also contact me through Briar Press searching on my username AdLibPress. I’d rather not post my email here but Briar Press will forward to me.


The Printing Office at Franklin Common, in Philadelphia, near Independence Hall, which is part of the National Park Service, has a functioning Franklin Press. It is used daily for demonstrations. When I visited, they let me crawl all around the press to photograph its parts.