Beginning my Journey into Letterpressing

“A fool and his money are soon parted…”

Hi my name is Steve and I am that fool.

Trying to find my footing in Letterpress has been fairly difficult thus far, limited experience and indecisiveness has plagued me at every turn. I’ve been looking at getting my hands on a C&P Pilots, Kelsey’s, a Heidelberg, a Poco #0 Proof or a Baltimorean #10.

My two critical requirements:

Under 200lbs
Rediculously Deep impressions.

Can someone please point out what I should be looking for?

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uh oh

If your weight requirement for the press is a maximum of 200 lbs. your very limited on your choices for REDICULOUSLY DEEP IMPRESSIONS.

Try to find a showcard press, preferably one with a variable cylinder height such as a Morgan sign machine.

Cylinder-style machines are better than platens in this weight range.

Steve, you like to ask for the impossible, right?

You can cross Heidelberg off your list; I don’t think they’ve ever made a letterpress under 2,000 lbs., let alone 200. The Pilot and Poco may or may not fit your weight limit, depending on how flexible that is. I think each are around the 200 to 250 lb range, I’m sure someone will have more exact weights.

Assuming the correct combination of paper and packing, I suppose any of the presses are capable of deep impression, but maybe only the size of a postage stamp (or maybe less on the little Baltimore)!

So how large of an area do you want to be able to print? Generally speaking, the larger the area, and the deeper the impression, the heavier press you’d need. Cylinder presses (like the Vandercook or Poco) are partially exempt from this, so they may be your best bet.

Good luck!

A set of letter stamps and a hammer.

How large a sheet do you want to be able to print on? I think a Sigwalt Ideal or Golding Official in the 6x9 size range will weigh less than 200lbs and they’re strong and capable of harder impression with less physical effort than most of the other kinds of presses except a cylinder. If you find a Poco #0 and make a tympan and frisket rig for it so you can print to register, that might be your best bet, though certainly not the cheapest. The cheapest is the set of letter stamps and a hammer (from Northern Tools).


Just a quick update, found a C&P proofing press and a ‘52 heidelberg windmill for sale on the cheap from an offset close to home.

The rediculously deep impressions will have to wait for a few months until my studio can be setup, but I’ll update this thread when I have something new to report.