1920’s? Hamilton Lithograph Tables

My family owns four small town newspapers in Central Illinois. Our main newspaper has been around for 146 years, and if you know anything about newspaper people, most of us never throw anything away.
In downsizing one of our locations, our most recently acquired newspaper, I have uncovered about 1 dozen Hamilton Lithograph tables. With an approx. 3.5x2.5 foot table area that is granite or some type of stone. These tables are also approx. 4 feet high. Can anyone give me any info on them?

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These are imposing stones for locking up type forms to prepare them for the press. Are you looking to sell them?


Possibly, I am really looking for a reasonable value.

The only example I was able to find when I Googled them was one in NY City that someone had chopped the legs off of and was trying to sell as an “industrial” occasional table. The wanted $9,000 for the one table. Needless to say it is still on the market

I am thinking I want them preserved in a semi-original state, and a collector of printing items would probably have this in mind also.

I also have these other two I am looking for info on…

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In general these imposing stones were topped with marble. The stones provided a very smooth surface to lock up type forms in the chases for letterpress printing. No connection to lithography.

The tables can provide very sturdy and handsome tables for all sorts of craft uses, but are extremely heavy and when large, very difficult to move without lots of help.

John Henry

Apologies, but beg to differ with learned friends?
Litho stones, be they Marble or Granite are (usually) regarded as just that, as above = accurate surfaces for lithography.???

Printers Imposing sufaces, i.e. STONES which is a misnomer by default any way as far back as it is possible to ascertain, have always been heavily webbed cast iron, with at least 2, if not 4, through tunnels for lifting and transportation, at least 1” bore.

The entire surface accurately machined, AND at least 2 rebated machined lips to accommodate standard galley thickness for sliding tied up pages ON/OFF?

T.P. 64 You have almost answered your own query,!

Genuine Litho *stones * here in U.K. at least make Good Money as You imply, Arty F***y, so called Fashion Houses turn them into Tables, Fancy Hardwood legs, or Barley twist Brass, legs Or tubular steel, etc and perhaps not $9,000 but certainly several hundred £/$ of course with the usual clap trap *Unique & Historic* etc.

Occasionally with the marble or granite surface re-polished and lacquered, to enhance the colours, and then 1/4” plate glass top.???

Genuine Printers Imposing surfaces/Stones are still commanding a good price here, U.K. NOT as Imposing Surfaces but as Engineers surface Plates.

In our Museum Print shop, a smaller Litho Stone stands behind the C & P as an Ink *Run up* table, and a bigger Litho Stone turns in for an Ink *Run up* table for the Intaglio printing section… . Good Luck.

From catalog No. 14 of Modern Printing Office Furniture, from the Hamilton Manufacturing Co.(1905?) - “We equip all our Stone Frames with the finest grade of Vermont marble, the best stone imposing surface in the world. We use but one grade, and customers need have no fear of a cheap stone being substituted. There is a softer stone which costs about one-half the price of Vermont marble, but we prefer to furnish the best procurable. The weight of Imposing Stones in the standard thickness of 2 inches, is approximately 30 pounds per square foot, uncrated, and 37 pounds crated.”
Iron surfaces could also be furnished for all of their Imposing Frames.

Mick — as a point of accuracy, litho stones are limestone, originally from the Solenhofen region of Germany. Granite won’t work chemically, and marble, while it probably would work, is way too soft and uneven in visual texture. Machinists surface plates are made of granite, and if you wanted to pay the $$$ could be had in grades far flatter than any imposing stone.

Jeff Shay;

Actually, you’re right about Marble- down in Mexico at La Ceiba Graphica (http://www.laceibagrafica.org), they have been using Marble for lithography pretty successfully… Marble is just denser/harder than limestone, so it takes a hotter ‘etch’ and requires stronger drawing materials capable of withstanding the initial processing. Other than that, they find it retains water similarly and that you can sponge it similarly, but not a ‘long’. A colleague of mine (a Tamarind printer) has been going there to print once a year and finds it to be really fascinating.

Hey trishsprack64 - I am curious now if your cart’s tops are limestone. There’s no easy way to tell, but most of the time marble imposing tops were smoothed out on the sides, not rough hewn like limestone (as seems to be exhibited in one of your pictures). If it is limestone and the stones are ‘lithographic’, they are valuable in practical terms more to a lithographer than a letterpress enthusiast/printer, as they’ll likely be surfaced and then used to print. As has been mentioned they come from only one real place and are pretty scarce- so it’s worth looking into.

In my estimation- If they’re big stones, around 900-1200 dollars a stone would be a high price, or whatever you felt was a good price to see them put back to work.

Thank you all for your comments. In the comment from Jeff Shay, the rough hewn visual you are seeing is the wood of the frame. Worn over much time and work done at these tables. That was probably not the best example of these tables, it was just the one that had the least amount of stuff on it. All of the stone tops are finished on the edges and are smoothed where they fit into their frames snugly.
As I clean out the building, I will be compiling a list and pictures of the items we will be getting rid of. It is a daunting undertaking. Not sure when, but we are planning an auction. Possibly in the spring. Also have a hand fed Chandler & Price (any clue on that?) and an older Kluge that will go on the block. Have two Linotypes, dozens of Hamilton cabinets, wood type, brass cuts & much more.
Will keep you all updated. Thanks again.

Good luck, and sorry for mis-typing your user-name. TrishSprack is a lot nice than my mistype (trash, my god how rude- apologies again)