Help with purchasing my first letterpress

Hi everyone,

I posted this in another discussion, but thought it might be wise to post as a new topic to see if someone out there could help me.

I was looking to purchase a tabletop press to start out on and learn on but haven’t had any luck as yet finding one in Australia, as postage from OS hikes up the price considerably.

However, a Heidelberg T Platen has crossed my path and I was thinking of diving in for the purchase. It’s only $350.00, which did make me a bit suss. It’s circa 1965, and has been used mostly for die-cutting and scoring. The seller has told me that it is in good working order, comes with a full set of inking rollers, what he thinks are all the original tools and accessories and the operating manual.

He emailed me a few images which I’ve attached and I was wondering if anyone could let me know if it would be a wise purchase.

The serial number is: T159825E. The seller said it would probably need new rollers and that there is a bit of surface rust on the steel riders. He also said that the owner before him used it only for printing, while he has only used it for scoring and die cutting, as he has another printer he uses to print. It also comes with 2 chases.

Should there be anything major that I should ask him. I was thinking of going to have a look at it but as I’m new to it all I’m not sure as to what I should be looking for.

I know it’s an advanced machine especially for starting out, but any help would be great!

Thanks again,

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Log in to reply   9 replies so far

I can see it needs a bit of rust removal but the price is right! Can you see it running or just turning over? It will cost a bit to move it but they are great presses. I would team it with an 8x5 Adana which will cost about the same and then you are well on the way. I say the Adana because i often do little jobs on one that are done before the Heidelberg is set up! Job in job out money in pocket!!
Now, look for braises and welds any sign of damage . Mine had a few but its still been a great press, but it just means asking and listening to the response. But for $350 its a good dea. I good two for a friend (also red balls) and shes paying $400 each which the owner claims is scrap price - is that a help?

Forgot to say I’m in Tassie south of Sydney south of Sydney, so these are Aussie dollars. Also sorry about the typos

Hi Dennis,

Thanks so much for your reply! I’m in Melbourne so Aussie dollars are all good to me!

I will definitely organise to view and make sure I check for any braises, welds, other damage and see it running.

Oh and yes the whole moving the press thing did have me a bit worried, but I figured if the price was that good, I wouldn’t mind spending a bit in the moving off it as long as I found someone who wouldn’t destroy it.

I have had my eye out for an Adana mainly on ebay. I either lose the auctions or they price ends up ridiculous due to overseas freight costs. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places or I just don’t have any luck :)

Thanks again for your help,

About 3 years ago I bought an Adana from Caslon.UK who make/ refurbish them for about 300 pounds and then paid about 300 aussie dollars to ship it - easily got it all back. With the Heidelberg there is a special hook that fits into the chase catch screw hole right on the point of balance. Makes lifting easy. Don’t forget to get the oil pan and it goes down first! There are I believe a couple of holes that go right through the press at near base level. Apparently steel bars can go through there. never seen it. Can anyone else offer ideas? Is it 3 phase power and have got access to that.

That’s an incredibly low price for a Windmill, at least here in the US. I’d be concerned how much wear and tear was put on it via the scoring/diecutting it has been through. Would the seller be willing to ink it up and do a short run to see if it prints well?

If you do buy it, you must find someone to teach you how to use it properly. Windmills bite if you’re not careful!

Good point - Windmills cant really be reversed. And if you are on your own you are stuck. Always be very careful. We were banned from printing if you had long hair without a hair net or hat and jewellery and ties were out. having said all that Ive been around them since the 60’s and only ever met one printer had been caught and fortunately that was on my day off. just be careful.

This press has been listed on

Thanks everyone. Your knowledge is invaluable.

I’ve heard of a few horror stories so will definitely be looking into a few classes as well as finding someone to teach me. Oh and my hair will be up in a bun at all times :)

Oh and yes Dennis that seems to be the one. I didn’t know it was on ebay as a friend passed the sellers details onto me directly as she heard he was selling it.

Hmm makes me wonder now if it is worth it or if I just keep my eye out for a tabletop press.

A windmill is not exactly a press for beginners. There is a great deal of mechanical complexity to master in addition to the nuances of relief printing.

Adding the potential pitfalls of a machine in need of refurbishing would not be positioning a beginner for success, in my humble opinion.

It is more common for printers to run a hand-fed press like a C&P until they need the production capacity of an auto-feeder.

[ insert walking-running metaphors here ]