Anything and Everything

Let me begin by saying that I know nothing about the art of letterpress… other than I have always thought it to be beautiful. I am on cloud nine (naively) about getting my hands on what I simply know as “a printing press” (I’m sure that’s like nails on a chalkboard to those of you who have been loving this for a long time). It is from Showcard Machine Co in Chicago and it is quite small. But I am so very anxious to learn about it; how it works, when it was first used, if I even have all the parts to print on it… I truly am hungry for any knowledge that you have. Nothing is too elementary (As you can see by my aforementioned ignorance when it comes to this subject area). I will post a few pictures and ANY and ALL feedback would be so very appreciated!
One last thing- I have lots and lots of metal and wood lettering blocks but know nothing of fonts/sizes/anything. If you know a good reference place for a beginner like me to start I would appreciate the help.

Thanks so much!

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Well, step one would be to send me all of the wood type. We will proceed from there.


I’m a beginner myself, and I think that reading up on the art/craft/practice would be a good next step. It’s helped me a lot. Here are a few titles you might try to get your hands on:

General Printing: An Illustrated Guide to Letterpress Printing by Glen U. Cleeton, et al.

The Practice of Printing by Ralph W. Polk

Letterpress Printing: A Manual for Modern Fine Press Printers by Paul Maravelas

Others could add to that list, no doubt. I haven’t looked Cleeton as much as the other two. Maravelas book (available new through Oak Knoll Press’s website) is useful in that it deals separately with cylinder and platen presses at several key points. (Your Showcard is a small cylinder press.)

And if you want a bit more info on your machine, Alan at Excelsior Press offers some useful info on Showcards:

As megahurt’s comments suggest, you’ve got yourself a nice little set up to get started with. You’ll no doubt need to add a few things. Ink and a brayer, perhaps. Check the Yellow Pages here at Briar Press or drop by a supplier’s website. NA Graphics might be a good place to start. But I’d recommend reading a bit (both in books and online) before shopping for supplies, even though the latter is probably more fun.

To megahurt &

Thank you both so much. Megahurt- the blocks are on their way-just keep checking that mailbox… ha ha Began last night looking at some of the resources you shared and they have already helped to answer some of the MANY lingering questions. I’ve ordered the book you recommended and can’t wait to dive in. But you’re right- in looking through the abundance of links and experts and dealers- It’s going to be hard not to go ahead and buy things. But I will do like you said and LEARN so that I can figure out WHY and WHAT I am actually getting. I would love to share any progress I make with you both and again, wanted to thank you for your encouragement and kind words… and wisdom.

The stuff I got was all jumbled up in big HEAVY boxes and in downloading pictures I forgot to attach the one with the set of *tools* that were included. I would love to post those later today and see what insight you have. Using the resources you provided last night I have identified two or the nine thus far!

Do post pics of your equipment in this thread when you get a chance. Someone here on Briar Press will be able to help you figure out what you’ve got.

And absolutely post or send me a message about your progress. I’d be particularly keen to hear about how your press is working out for you because my wife is interested in adding a little tabletop cylinder press (Showcards are pretty high on the list) to our basement print shop.

Do you know yet what kinds of things your hoping to print with your Showcard?