Cast Iron Book Press

Hi there,

Thinking about getting one of these or an antique version.

The idea would be to carve woodblock designs in plywood and print up personal greeting cards. Would this work for that? I think it would but could use some other opinions. Any help is greatly appreciated!


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OK - technically, this is a reproduction of a “copy press*”, and has been adopted by bookbinders as an inexpensive alternative to the more heavily-built (and therefore, more expensive) book presses.

Trying to print a very small form (like a business card) on this might work well enough, but anything larger than - let’s say 3x5 - might not get enough impression. Additionally, it lacks a gripper or any sort of registration device, so you have to ink the form, place the paper over it, slide it into the press, and turn the wheel as hard as you can. Physics is not on your side here - you would get a better impression by rubbing the paper with a spoon to transfer the ink.

That said, it’s not a bad price if you’re a bookbinder.

*Copy Press - a device used in the Victorian era to make copies of hand-written documents. A primitive copying machine…

There are actually a few drawings around that show you how to adapt a copy press into a working press capable of doing relatively decent work. It involves a tympan and frisket mechanism that slides in from the front or back. Slow, but workable.

Your image area will need to be rather small with not too heavy of an image surface because of the strength of impression.

I actually love these little presses and have nine of them in the shop in a variety of styles! Each picked up here and there over the years when the price was right. I mainly use them after folding pieces. I place a small stack of the folded material into the press, put an addition squeeze on the stack and let it sit overnight. This really makes the fibers stay in the folded position and everything stays remarkably flat.

The $199 seems like a relatively decent price for this. Of course I was picking them up in the $30 range, but that was a few decades ago. I did pay $50 for the largest, which weighs a couple of hundred pounds!


Thanks for the help!