What qualifies a press as “antique”


I have a new style C&P Pilot 6.5x10. I’ve heard some people refer to it as antique, and had others tell me it isn’t.

What qualifies a press as antique? I’m assuming the year it was manufactured—is that correct?

I’ve tried finding the serial number, but cannot find them for 6.5 x10—does anyone know why? I know it’s not that old a press compared to others, but I would like to know a bit more about its history.


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Some people consider anything 40 or more years older is an antique, in which case your press would qualify. More knowledgable antique dealers make the cut-off at 100 years. They think that a 40 year-old item is just second-hand.


Perhaps a better way to describe it would be ‘antiquated’, by today’s standards at least. :)

I believe antiques are defined, in the dictionary at least, as drawing their value from age and in some cases provenance.

To most buyers, a press like the Pilot draws its value from its function, not its age or origin (which is why we laugh when eBay sellers go to great lengths to tell the origin story of a press to raise a premium on its price).

The Pilot is a desirable item because it is better made and better at making money than many other tabletop presses, not because it is old. And if a Pilot was made today it would be more valuable than one with half a century of hard work behind it. Simply because it would realistically be able to make its owner money for longer.

There are certainly presses where a modern reproduction wouldn’t be as desirable as the real thing, but I don’t think the Pilot is one of them.

Value aside, I do think it is nice to know the history of your presses. I’ve tried to keep all the associated ephemera when I’ve pulled a press from a garage or storage space. It can make for some good stories to tell clients as you walk them through the shop.

That old “what is an antique?” guestion has been debated for decades…. without resolution. some folks say 100 years, some say 40 to 50 years, and some folks think that items as young as 25 years can be considered to be “Antiques” . ( A car can get an Antique Tag in many states after 25 years. ).

My personal opinion is that the word “antique” is really meaningless nowadays. Categorizations like that are really nothing more than opinions anyway. There is no “official” definition. All that really matters is how desirable the press is to folks who might want to buy it, regardless of why they want it…… who cares if they think it’s an “Antique” or “Collectible”? YOUR press is a highly desirable machine, no matter what category folks want to tuck it into.

In the letterpress world we also run into the “keep original” vs “modify for better usefulness” vs “restore” sort of arguements. I hear it all the time: “What? you removed a hundred years of patina? You’ve ruined it!” and then the next day I hear “geeezzz…. you really ought to remove all of that rust.” No matter what you work on, someone is going to agree with your methodology, and others will declare you to be totally wrong…..and possibly even evil.

The way I see it, if it’s your press you can do whatever you want to it. If others want these machines kept old and rusty, OR if they think they should be restored and painted Lime Green, then they can buy them and keep them original, or paint them green or put them in a museum, or whatever. Except of course, MY lime-green press is not for sale.

Wow, these are all great responses. Thanks to all for answering my question!

As for serial numbers— I guess there aren’t any for Pilots?