I print small custom cards/invitations on my SP15. It’s not the most efficient, but I just love cranking the handle.

What press(es) do you own? What are you printing and why?

What do you like about printing on your press?

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i love printing on platen presses, mostly cause me and cylinders don’t get along very well, i do commercial printing mostly for other printers, some die cutting and foil stamping and embossing. i have windmills, a kluge and a few c&p’s, also some table tops that are fun once in a while. My favorite thing is type setting, i set lots on a couple of ludlows, just setting up a intertype machine which is my favorite machine to run. Bethany, move back to Boston and i’ll set the type while you crank the handle and we’ll become rich and famous.

I’m printing custom work, business cards, wedding invites, coasters, greeting cards etc. on my old style platen. I love it! It’s not motorized and I appreciate being able to control the speed at all times by simply having my foot on the treadle. I also like it’s noises and not the noises of motors! It’s a solid, awesome little press.

I would love to get an SP15 or something like that for a proof press. But, that’s down the road.

98% of what I do is show print style posters printed on a Heidelberg cylinder.

The other 2% has been personal Christmas cards, a couple of wedding packages, and some other miscellaneous cards all done on a Hohner B platen.

We have 3 windmills which are great for most jobs we do. They’re quick, reliable, easy to clean, and can die cut, score, and I’ve even got mine to close envelopes after it prints them.
Everything else we print using our cylinder or vandy #4 cause the paper or image size is to big for the windmills.

My old platen is nice and precise even though it is more than 100 years my senior. Great for cards of all kinds.

My Nolan No.2 is not precise, which is a good thing as it gives me an excuse to just throw some wood-type and ink on there and make some fun posters just for the hell of it.

I’ve owned and/or operated almost every configuration of letterpress out there, and the best by far was the Miehle Pony I ran for several years. It wouldn’t have been good for business cards, but it was fabulous for posters. I’ve done a mountain of work on C&Ps, and love them for their ease of set-up and operation. Heidelbergs are wonderful for longer runs, but a bit more challenge to set up. Vandercooks and other proofing presses are easy to operate, but are lacking in a decent inking system. In my shop now I have an R. Hoe Washington, a table-top Albion, and an Adana Horizontal Quarto. On these I can do anything that I could on any other press, but am limited because of the slowness incumbent in the act of purely hand operations. Since I am not currently pressured by deadlines, I can enjoy the art of printing, putting ink to paper, in its purest form.


Paul, i’ll have to talk to your wife and see if we can get some pressure and deadlines back in your life.

Dick, I’m sure she would appreciate the extra income that comes along with pressure and deadlines (that is if I don’t screw it up somehow, or underestimate time and materials), or spend it on strong drink afterwards.


I vote for the strong drink. It’s a better choice than the others.

I always liked Lew Allen’s suggestion for catastrophes:

“A bottle of aspirin. Some printers prefer a jug of spirits, although we are told that alcohol and printing ink are are antipathetic [or just pathetic]. (Keep hand-guns out of the shop).”


I have an SP15 as well. Bought it in the early 1980s as new. Kept it well maintained and it has never let me down. It’s a little money maker and best of all, IT makes ME look good.

I have a Universal III power as well but I most often just travel over to my old friend. I print whatever I find interesting and not what I find uninteresting.

My main reason for printing letterpress is none of the usual hype. I like the control it gives me.


Hello bethanybp,

I’m a hobby printer who operates a Vandercook No. 4. I don’t print very long runs, so the handle cranking is not a problem. Actually, I love how on printing days I feel no need to go to the gym — I switch arms for tripping and printing.☺ I love that the press has the capacity to produce poster-sized prints, but a drawback is that it is not easy to accommodate very thick stock.

Since I don’t sell my things (yet!), I’m always looking for opportunities to print things that will get distributed somehow, such as our Christmas cards or items for printers’ exchanges. My main objective is to improve my skills, so I spend a lot of time in the research and planning stages, and I produce quite a bit of scrap. I’d join the Amalgamated Printers’ Association, but I think I’d end up scrambling to print things that don’t really advance my work to the next level, since you need to submit 150 prints four times a year. I hand-set metal type, and think of letterpress as an antidote to scrambling!


I work for a company called Ampersand Press. We are based in Port Townsend, WA and make rubber stamps. We bought a C & P a few years ago and have printed a few things on it. One of the companies that buys stamps from us is starting to do greeting cards, so that is the majority of the stuff that we will be printing.

I think the fun in letterpress is the hand on operation. Set type from foundry, Ludlow, Intertype or Linotype it is the feel of you are part of the finish product.
I have run C&P, Kluge, Heidelbergs both cylinder and windmill, and Little Giant cylinder.

Letterpress press are all the same, use good clean type lockups, and small amount of ink until you get the right ink coverage you need. And, all letterpress press small or large or great to give a person a great product.

I love the feel of real type, and locking up a form to print.
It just make me feel as I really did something.

I am looking forward to getting my Little Giant running. I hope within the next week.

The main thing to remember about letterpress printing, is to use the right press for the job.

I’ve got an old-stlye 10x15 C&P that I started on last year, and I’ve loved being able set some type and carve my own blocks for note cards and small-scale art projects. I love that I can do large runs easily, and I love printing with the treadle — the quietness of it, the control, and the feeling of really doing the printing myself.

I just stumbled into a Line-O-Scribe proof press (14x21” bed), and I’m thrilled about being able to do larger pieces, even if they’re smaller runs. I’ve just started a whole new series of multi-colored prints that are larger than I’ve ever done. I started as a painter, so mostly I’m carving blocks to produce my own art. The Line-O-Scribe is beautifully versatile, because I can use my larger wood type for occasional posters or shim and print very thin linoleum blocks for my main work.


what i love about my press, a kelsey star 7x11 treadle operated press, is that it survived four feet of hurricane
katrina flood water and still lives. quite a few months of cleaning and stripping parts and pieces and then reassembling them and finding that it ran better than ever,was very rewarding, especially after trashing our compurter, ink jet printer, lg screen tv and all electronics. it goes to show you that old technology had it’s merits. after everything was running, i started printing coasters of various things new orleans and to my suprise the sales of these allowed me to replace 80 cases of type, my wife’s baby grand piano and more! old techonolgy is great! gerald jenny, the four dogs press

What a great story, Gerald! Thanks for telling it here to the people who will most appreciate it.


I have enjoyed reading all posts about printers and their presses. I’m sure there is a book waiting to be written.

I print on an 1887 demy Alexandra handpress (a more decorated version of an Albion). I love the absolute control I have over the whole process, from inking the type to feeling the bite as I pull the bar. It may be printing at its slowest pace, but it is a joy to use, a beautiful object in itself and a source of inspiration. Originally I was looking for a much smaller press, but serendipitously chanced on the Alexandra and have never regretted buying it.

Mostly I print for pleasure, although I have done some commissions and sell cards through a small independent book shop. The big platen 18”x28” and a supply of large pt type begging to be used has sent me off in the direction of folio sized settings. The joy of raising the tympan and seeing a perfect impression on a sheet of creamy Magnani paper is difficult to convey to a non-printer, but I imagine you all feel the same. Some short books are in the planning process as soon as finances allow for acquiring some book fonts.