How do I establish the age of a Columbian Press?

I have started to deal with a Clymer and Dixon Columbian press. can anyone tell me how to establish when one of these was built? I can’t find an obvious serial number on it.

Log in to reply   3 replies so far

Sounds like a question for Bob Oldham … :)

George Clymer invented the Columbian about 1813 and left the US for England in 1818, so the press is no older than that. When he first arrived in England he made and marketed the Columbian himself but went into partnership with Samuel Dixon in 1830 as Clymer & Dixon. Clymer died in 1834 and Dixon carried on until 1845, when the company reorganized as Clymer, Dixon & Co. The company passed on to William Carpenter in 1851, and he continued to make Columbian presses until 1863 when the company closed. (This information extracted from a Google search that turned up an online copy of James Moran’s “Printing Presses”.)

So it looks like your press was made sometime between 1830 and 1845. You might examine the brass plate (if it’s still there) closely for a number engraved into it — that would make more accurate dating possible.

Where are you located? If in North America I want to add the press to the North American Hand Press Database.


Bob, I am in Australia 45 mins north of Melbourne in Victoria. A place called Broadford.
All I know is she was inported second hand between 1854 and1857, and they said it was old then. Our local paper got it in1891 and used it untill 1968 to print the paper. It was replaced by a secondhand Ingles cylinder press, I have the same trouble with it too.

The plate is still in place, I didnt see a number, but will have a closer look, and let you know. we hope to have it back in the old office by January. If you would like a photo we will be able to do it then.