Tiny Press- The Ben Franklin Print Shop Manufactured by Sigwalt

Hi! I am an art educator brand new to letterpress. I have always enjoyed printmaking, and recently was given this tiny press. It belonged to my grandparents and it is in very good condition with the exception of the roller, which has shriveled up like a raisin. I wanted to see if there was anyone who could advise me as to if I can print with this press. I have seen it on the internet described as a toy. If I can make small (3 x 5) prints with this press, can you point me in the right direction on how to restore it to working order? Thank you!

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Hello Kelly….. yes, you can easily get that little press up and running with very little effort. It looks like it’s in good shape. As long as nothing else is broken, I’d replace the rollers and print with it.

As far as rollers go, you have three choices: 1. buy 3x5 Kelsey rollers and trucks, and modify them to fit. 2. send the cores and trucks to a roller maker like Tarheel, and have a set made. or 3. make Gummie Bear Rollers. For your little machine, I’d go the Gummie Bear route since they are very inexpensive and work great for little presses. A search of “Gummie Bear Rollers” here on Briar Press will bring up all sorts of discussion about how they are made.

When it comes to printing with it, think SMALL….. even if the chase is 3x5, don’t try to print a full 3x5 image at first. Try something like a small 1” x 1” cut or something. Then after you learn how she does, do some bigger work.

I’ve got a 3x5 Kelsey that I use for small woodcuts, and it works like a charm. I have no doubt that your Sigwalt will too.

Hi Kelly, Looks like the number 10 sigwalt with the box very nice. Look me up when you are ready for some new rollers, I have Spun rubber or Composition. In stock, listed here and on E-bay.

Gummie Bears??? I cant wait to research this one! My sister bought my paper and ink for my birthday, so if I can figure out the rollers and what tiny image I want to print, I am ready to go! Thank you Winking cat and Toddspresstime for all your suggestions.

Very interesting packaging, all Sigwalts I came across so far were sold in wooden boxes. I am guessing this must be one of the later models.