Can this be used a proof press?

This ad is on the Briar list and I assume that even though designed primarily as a book press, it could be used as a proof press? Neil

For Sale: Large copy/book/nipping press. Cast iron working area 16.25 X 20.5 inches. Very easy to use. All pieces are intact and operate smoothy. This copy press has been used with middle school aged young people. They printed relief carvings with great results. I believe the press to be a Crown Stewart model that won the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

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The platens of these presses are not designed for a lot of pressure over a large area. The copying process they were designed for did not require much pressure, just that the two surfaces be flat. You can use it as a proof press provided you don’t try to proof a very large area of solids, which would require greater pressure than the press can probably deliver.


Understood and thanksBob. Perhaps som help on a more general question for a newbie? basically, what’s “proof” about a proof press. When I started letterpress printing about two years ago, I used a Vandercook at our local arts center and while it is referred to as a proof press I printed some veyr nice small posters and invitations. So, is the notion of proof onl such when you want to proof something or is it the general name of a category of presses? Thanks, Neil

And, please excuse the typos…

A “Proof” refers to a quick print that is pulled to proof-read pages, check colors etc. before putting something into full production.

Vandercooks were mostly used to proof type in galleys, which is why their beds are usually “galley height”, or .968”

Many proof presses can do high-quality work, but unless it has an automatic inking system it will be very slow. Some simpler presses, such as Nolan proof-presses, or even Pocos, will have to have custom contraptions built for registration and multi-color work.

back in the 60’s the Vandys were mostly used for repro proofs. There were not very good typesetting machines for the offset, so type was set in hot metal, proofed on a small proof press to be proofread and corrected then the vandys were used to print a clean copy to be photographed to make an offset plate.

There were almost as many models of Vandercooks as there were printers — different styles for different functions and almost all made in different sizes — there were even large cylinder letterpress Vandys for sequentially proofing a full-page 4-color-process newspaper ad for wet trapping — to be sure the colors would be right when printed quickly one after the other. “Proof” presses are for the purpose of proving that the job is set correctly or ready for printing. A galley press would be used to get a rough reading proof, and a repro press would be used to, as DickG says, make a clean sharp proof that could be photographed to create an offset plate, or to carefully check a type forme before it was sent to be electrotyped. Lots of different uses!


Thanks to all. Very, very useful and thanks also, in general, for encouraging simple and basic questions. Neil

Artists Ernest Watson and his wife Eva printed many beautiful multi-colored linocuts using a copy press rigged with a moveable bed and a usable method of registration. Watson detailed his method in the book “Linoleum Block Printing” published in 1929 by Milton Bradley. The main problem a copy press has is no built-in way to control the amount of impression. Once that problem has been solved there is no reason that it shouldn’t print like any other platen press.


image: WatsonCopyPress.jpg


Thanks Paul! Neil

I’m wondering if using several dial indicator gages, attached to the bottom of the press to measure deflection, might solve a impression problem. One should be able to impress the plate the same amount each cycle. A good amount of tinkering, locating, placing the gages would be necessary.