Perkins Model D

While researching cylinder presses not long ago, I ran across a picture of the Perkins Model “D” press which was used in the early 1800’s for printing postage stamps. (two pics are attached below).

Essentially it is a sturdy etching press not unlike the etching presses still in use today. What intrigues me though is the “blanket lifting appendage” (for lack of a better name) that is attached to the press to the right of the wheel operator…. or on the left of the photo. It depends on which way you are looking at it, I guess.

Obviously, it is a counterweight-operated device that automatically drops the blanket into position as the bedplate is rolled through the machine, and then lifts it up again as it is rolled back. Functionally, it’s pretty simple…. but I must admit it adds some visual appeal.

I’ve seen a LOT of presses in my day, but I’ve never seen a rig quite like this one. I’m wondering if such a device might have some application to letterpress. Maybe it could be used to raise and lower a Tympan / Frisket on a Poco…. or something similar.

I can certainly see where it would be helpful for printing etchings since it eliminates two hand motions during the printing cycle, and as we all know two hand motions per impression times a thousand impressions can add up to quite a workout.

Anyone have any thoughts? Ideas? Comments? Have you ever seen one before?

image: Perkins_D_cylinder_printing_press_in_the_British_Library_m.jpg


image: perkins D - b.jpg

perkins D - b.jpg

Log in to reply   9 replies so far

Adam- thanks for the links. I’ve seen the rotational attachment on etching presses before, but I never really paid them much attention.

After looking at the Takach pages, I must say though that their system looks less substantial, and not as automatic / user friendly as the original Perkins. The Takach sort of looks like an afterthought to me. I also like the visual appeal of the old Perkins more.

These Etching Presses are used by Printmakers, over time Printmakers came up with a plethora of solution of how to effectively remove the blanket (s). There are systems the Blanket(s) are running in a continuous Loop.

Adapting it for Friskets on Presses, Paper may rip, but what about using Yupo, or a USPS Envelope, as they are artificial Paper (Dupont) and have a high tensile strength. ?

Btw, I print Letterpress and Etchings and have the proper Equipment to prove it.

TypeNut…. I’m familiar with etching presses, since I too do some etching / engraving work. I used to do a lot more than I do today, but still have an etching press in my library. I’ve always just flopped the blankets over the roller to get them out of the way while inking.

My interest with this post is not so much for etching per se, but rather with using a similar set-up to set and lift a tympan for relief / letterpress printing on a cylinder press.

I like your idea of using some sort of Tyvek material. I thought of possibly using a piece of very stiff canvas.

What type of cylinder press are you planning this automated tympan system for?

Adamisinky - it’s going to be used on a 12x24 flatbed letterpress that i just finished building. It’s rather like a Poco, with a smaller cylinder….. or maybe like an etching press with rails along the bed for type-high type and blocks, and a proper gripper mechanism.

It’s the project for which I made the roller that i posted a few weeks ago.

The press is actually already built. All I’m doing now is putting on all the finishing touches, like the gripper, roller adjustment scales, and so forth.

I haven’t decided if the tympan-lifting device would be a good addition or not. i’m still pondering.

I await with baited breath pictures and specs of your machine. I’m actually (slowly) working on my own homemade cylinder press in 18 x 24 size. I’ve been collecting parts for a while now, but it’s mostly still just a set of plans I’ve been refining for about a year. I intend it to be a hand-cranked single-revolution cylinder with an impression trip and a reciprocating bed, driven by a rack-and-pinion gear-set at each side of the cylinder. I’m currently waffling between a tympan-and-frisket setup or a gripper bar in the bed similar to what some Showcards have.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Michael- I worked on an impression trip for this machine, but didn’t come up with a good-enough mechanism. The most promising idea was to mount the upper roller bearings on an eccentric…. then rotating the eccentric 90degrees on the return stroke. A Potter proof Press had a similar mechanism….. It seems to work on paper, but wasn’t a very elegant solution to the problem.

That’s why I’m pondering the automatic tympan: to hold the paper in place during the return stroke and thus avoid having to build a trip mechanism.

I’m planning on using an eccentric. I couldn’t think of anything better, either. I’m intending to mount the cylinder bearing off-center inside a larger bearing’s inner race. There’ll be stops to keep the cylinder from falling out of impression or going too far off it. This is basically the Potter trip mechanism. I figure that as long as I take the impression point to just past vertical (and against a firm stop), it won’t require a high-tension spring to hold the cylinder on impression, just something strong enough to keep it from falling. Tripping will simply involve rotating away from the stop, over center, and up a bit. It will mean the impression won’t trip except when away from the forme but that shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve sized the mechanism such that even a full forme completely clears the cylinder at each end.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN