I have a collection of antique printing equipment.
Got space to display it from a friend,can i call it a”museum”?

I started collecting about 5 years ago with book or copy presses,think i have 6 now and a Columbian press dated 1853,Albion press dated 1880,Chandler Price dont know date but it is old style,few hadana presses and some hand binding tools.

Will post some fotos as soon as it is on display.

I am from Pretoria, South Africa.

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Gary -

Go for it!!!!!! I have been in a lot of so called “museums” with a lot less than that in them. I am in the United States and from what I have seen there simply doesn’t seem to be any kind of standard whatsoever to define what a “museum” consists of.

I look forward to seeing other comments here on this subject.


I’ve been collecting letterpress stuff for 50 years, i make my living doing commercial letterpress printing, some say my shop looks like a museum. When i go to the museum of printing i find they are running the same stuff i run every day.

I am impressed with this website,did not expect such quick response,thank you for the in put.

Not much info on this bussines in South Africa,might start a art class or demonstrations on my machines ,dont know if there will be interested people?

Hoping to post photos soon!

Hi Gary,

Here’s a link to “Letterpress South Africa.” I don’t know what they’ve been up to lately but I do know that last year they curated an exhibition at the University of Witwatersrand of prints from the Vandercook Centenary print bundle. The site includes contact information for people in the South African letterpress and book arts community. You may find some enthusiastic supporters.


Thank you Babara
Have checked it,very little activities lately on that site but i will contact them as soon as i have opened my “museum”.

Have received a few donations(collectables) from people i know in the industry,people seem to appreciate the idea of a museum.

Dickg,what do you print to earn a living ? I have only been in printing a few years,knowing the modern presses only. Planning to get to know the letterpress world.


Gary, i started out going to other print shops and talking them into letting me print their smaller jobs, then i started doing numbering, perforating and die cutting, also crash printing for forms companies, then i got into foil stamping and embossing, also make rubber stamps. I don’t do a lot of anything but i do a little of everything which i think has helped me over the years. With letterpress you can number and die cut which newer presses don’t do. Now i’m retired but i still have all my letterpress equipment and print most every day. Dick G.

Dick G
In your case its become a passion beyond work, the money is useful but the doing of has greater value, i suspect you dont have any opinion on the end product its the getting there that makes it worth it , the work for me is not why i do it i like the process that produces it.!!!

Dick G and Peter
Fantastic replies from both of you.I think i am developing that great felling of getting there with a very old and slow process , excactly opposite of the modern trade that i know. I need to create a hobby out of my work and think i found the medium.
What a way to retire?

Gary -

Absolutely. The idea of a museum of small presses is in the spirit of why you have saved them and why you want to share them. A bunch of presses does not make a museum, the curator does.

If you have one composing stick, one case of type and a 3x5 Kelsey hand press - and want to share your knowledge of and show visitors how they work together - and what can be done with them when they are used together - then I’d say you have a museum there.

I came to that same conclusion myself years ago - before letterpress became trendy. I just wanted to do some printing and show folks how it was done. I’d collected presses since my youth, so when I got it organized (well, in my mind at least…) I decided I’d call my operation a “Museum Print Shop”.

And it is. I have about a dozen presses in operation and folks come to visit; students come to learn; printers come to print on my presses. Customers can watch me print the job they’re paying me to do. It’s lots of fun.

But don’t give up your day job! This has got to be something you enjoy; it certainly is no way to get rich…. In fact, for years, I simply paid the rent from other income until I came back to the shop full time, and keeping the expenses covered is a continuing challenge.

But it sure is fun. Create a web site; take some photos of your equipment. Get an old Geezer like Dick G to pose for your photos.. ;) ;)

Write some stories; share the histories of the machinery you have collected. These days, we have to use the internet to share the stories and photos and other information. And believe me, people are looking for them and do enjoy reading them.

Send me a link to your web site when you’ve got it going and I’ll link to it from mine

- Alan Runfeldt

Thank you Alan
Busy doing the website and info on my collection.
Dont worry will not quit my dayjob.It is in the printing and i realy enjoy my work and the industry,maybe cause the modern way made it easy.
Through my job i meat and hear from lots of peope and i have picked up they do like you say want to know about yesterdays methods.
My grandfather was in the industry his life,goverment printing works of SA. Two years after he died i landed in the printing industry,seems to me some ink might flow in me.

As soon as a linkis ready iwill post it


It is one week later now,i have managed to get all the items in the display area,nearly ready to take some pictures.
Busy preparing a brochure to give to visitors,next will be my website
Decided to call it ZP Printing Museum which will connect it to my print shop in Pretoria.
It was hard work to move all the heavy machines,had to use a rigger,took a few days to clean the items but think it will tell the printing storie by end of next week.

Thank you