Presidential Press: Fact or Fiction?

I was recently told by a friend of mine, that he had heard there were once printing presses that traveled with the U.S. Presidents way way back in the day. The presses were used to print materials while out on the campaign trail or other official trips. My friend was told that these presses were Chandler & Price OS models and they were painted blue, rather than black with gold detailing.

Has anyone heard a similar tale?

I’ve scoured Briar Press forums and the internet, but thus far have found absolutely zero to substantiate the story.

Any insight or resources would be much appreciated!


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I have read and studied printing-related stories for over three decades and have never run across anything like this before. The Army traveled with portable presses during the civil war. Hauling around a full-size C&P “back in the day” would not have been easy. The Army presses were portable table-top models.

Was there ever a Presidential train or something like that which could have traveled with a press??????

I look forward to anyone shedding some light on this subject.


Steve Saxe is the gentleman who may be able to provide an answer. I don’t know if he frequents Briar Press, but he does Letpress:

Recall that Thomas Edison set up a print shop in a baggage car and printed on the train. I would guess that since between about 1850 and 1950 most campaigning was done from a train, there would likely have been a similar print shop set up in one of the cars. I would think something like a Gordon (by whatever maker), or maybe a smaller cylinder press, would have been used. The trick would be to keep the type cases in the cabinets on curves!


Although I can’r put my paws on it right now, I seem to recall that one of the American Presidents had a small press in the whitehouse and printed little items like matchbooks for visitors.

That may be just Kelsey Hype, but it does stick in my memory.


Thank you all for your insight and input. I’ll resubscribe to LetPress (which was becoming overwhelming) and do some more digging over there.

I am currently restoring a C&P pilot OS, and under all the paint I am stripping I have found a bright blue color. It is probably completely unrelated to the so-called Presidential Press, but I was surprised to find the color. I have no idea where it could have come from, as the paint job on the press appeared to be the original black with gold detailing.

Congratulation! You have removed all the layers except the original undercoat. It was an ultramarine blue which was followed by black. Many of the old style presses also had striping in gold. The blue underneath the black gives a very dark black color to the press.


That makes sense! I figured it must have been a primer of some sort, but still! My father was trying to convince me the press was originally painted blue.