id tiny old press


I found this at the flea market today and it followed me home.

Shown “as found” (sorry for the excessive contrast in the pictures: I’ll re-do them if it matters for id.)

There is nothing that I can see indicating maker.

What is left of the black Japanning is original, as is the rust.

I’m not going to touch it until one of you tells me that it’s common as dirt. Then I’ll buy a little scrap of BoxCar base and start my own business making business cards.

Is this too good / rare to use?

the platen measures about 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches. The chase is missing.

Any information would be appreciated.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I have a fellow with a large old Kelsey press patiently waiting for me to have cash that is not earmarked for the car, so if this is of any value I may ebay it.

If this is of no value, I’ll get out the penetrating oil and the wire wheel and the aforementioned piece of boxcar base.

(My first post here. Take it easy if I have transgressed…)

OK, I give up. I can’t make images upload to this post.
I’ll try to add them to subsequent posts or create a blog site and link to it.

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First attempt to post a picture:failed.
Second attempt to post a picture also failed.

OK, somebody tell me how to do this?

Yes, I adjusted my file names.

Yes, I selected a file.

Yes, I clicked “attach file.”

There’s a trick, right? This is community hazing?

OK, I went to tumblr and posted the pictures there:

does it have one or two ink rollers, these small presses are missing the chase a lot. I have made some out of wood, one for the size you have, the wooden ones work very well. been looking for a chase for a friend the same size as yours, its been years and nothing ever shows up.

Yes, the chase is always missing.

That’s why I was teasing about using the BoxCar base.

This press never had ink rollers: the odd little table on top that makes it look like an old school desk (NOT an “oldschool” desk) was spread with ink and a hand brayer picked it up off of that and put it on the type. Why anyone thought that it needed to be part of the press is beyond me, but that’s the story as I get it.

That press was made by Joseph Watson. It is known as a Centennial press and was made anywhere from 1876 to the turn of the century.

Thank you OldTimey.

That gives me a place to start looking for information.

According to Elizabeth Harris p182, the patent for the Centennial is no 169526, 2nd November 1875, DeHuff & Watson

On p41 she writes that the Centennial Press was made for the1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, was on the market the year before the event and sold for 20 years.

Thanks platen printer.

Can I take that to mean that these are common, so I don’t need to fret about using a museum piece?

They are not exactly common, but there are not a lot of them around. I think this one could use some serious rust removal and other work to make it presentable.

I don’t think you will be able to print more than a couple of lines of type with it. These presses were closer to being toys than real presses.But they are cute!

Sorry Stephen, I didn’t see your post until just now.

The Centennial is no longer my problem. Its new owner can de-rust as he sees fit.

My guess is that this style of press was only used for visiting cards or such like as it predates the popular use of business cards. Does anyone know of a contemporary advertisement for one extolling its virtues? That might explain the target audience.