imperial press info wanted

Hi all,
I have been asked to get an 1852 Imperial press ready for printing. The press is in good, complet condition but needs a bit of fine adjustment. Is there any documents out there for these hand presses? If not can anyone tell me if one can set a stop on the lever? What mechanism does it use to bring the platen down - toggle?, knuckle?, piston?.
The hinges on the tympan frame have been damaged, with one being slightly arched the other straight. Which one is the correct shape?
Any info on these presses would be welcome.

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Can you post a photo of the press? I’m pretty familiar with hand presses in general but I don’t know the Imperial. However, I have recorded 7 Imperial presses as being in North America — is the press in question one of them? If so, where is it located? If not, and it is in North America I would like to add it to the North American Hand Press Database. I can also put you in touch with one or more of the other owners who may be able to guide you through the process of getting the press properly adjusted and printing.


if you are in Uk(previously you have posted about an Arab)…Rochat in London, Patrick Roe Logan Press can help- I have set the stops on Albion and Columbian (once I have set up the tyman packing) to kiss impression, then anything heavier slacken them off.. The tympan extensions that afix onto the screws get bent out of true by tightening up the scews too much, be careful re-straightening maybe warm them up with blow torch…images on a google search etc will show some presses
look at
basically the chill/fulcrum mechanism in the Albion must be vertical to exert pressure but I am not sure of the Imperial mechanism.Contact other press users eg ironhandpress group flickr and museums.

Hi Ron,
You’ll struggle to find any documents for this machine. St. Bride may have some information but extracting that could be time consuming. The Imperial has a simple lever system with the platen returned by simple leaf springs. There should be a fine adjuster on the piston but the platen is set in the normal fashion with the bolts.
I set each cormer with a micrometer to get the bed even. Work in diagonals, you should get it near perfect. You can tweak the pressure print testing. I use type high blocks. That said you may be printing lino and would need a board (made of mdf) about 20mm thick. Lino needs a harder packing than type. Once the tympan is dressed you should be able to sort the pressure out by adding or removing packing paper. The press should print with a nice ‘pull’ without it being an effort. Do not overstrain the press.
As to the mechanism inside the press is a knuckle joint and wedge attached to levers at the top of the machine which attach to the bar or handle.The main pin holds the largest knuckle. The leaf springs return the platen once the bar is released.
And further to the tympan please post a pic. The tympan hinges are made of soft brass and often are bent. They can be quite brittle so it may be best to leave it be if it functions ok.
I have moved and installed quite a few Imperials in the UK. They are a good, solid machine.

Thanks to all for your replies,
I will post some images of the press in a couple of weeks as that is the soonest I can get back to it. It is located at the University of Adelaide, in South Australia. The intention is to have it working for the Bibliography students.
Jeremy, I think the tympan hinges were replaced with steel ones some time ago, but I’ll get a photo to show you what I mean. Unfortunately the way they are at the moment does not allow the platen to sit inside them . This is a combination of the tympan and the platen both being slightly out of true.
Bob, as you can see the press is not in the US and I believe it has been here for a long time, probably brought out in Colonial times.
I’ll add to this post as work progresses.