Vandercook Roller Series

The studio where I work has been donated a Vandercook Roller Series Proof Press. I was wondering if someone could glean more information from the photos about when it was likely manufactured, and if there is anything I should look out for maintenance-wise.
Where would I find the serial number on this model?

The late owner of the press used it exclusively for relief printing, and the boards in the press bed are removable.

Once it is at its new home (Martha Street Studio, in Winnipeg) I plan on adding it to the Vandercook census.

Any information would be greatly appreciated!

image: IMG_3631.jpg


image: IMG_3632.jpg


image: IMG_3633.jpg


image: IMG_3634.jpg


image: IMG_3644.jpg


image: IMG_3871.jpg


Log in to reply   12 replies so far

This press is either a No. 20 (10-inch wide bed) or a No.21 (12-inch wide bed). The serial number (four digits) is found directly on the bed next to one of the lockup pin holes.

image: sn5771-300x224.jpg


Thanks for the information Paul, I will look for the serial number when I go to pick up the press.

Paul’s example serial number 5771 was shipped May 6, 1932 to the Whitmire Typesetting & Electrotyping Co., 626 Federal St., Chicago. This press was actually manufactured in 1931 but did not sell until the following year and is listed as a Number 1 model. This was the bottom of the depression and some presses sat at Vandercook for up to 2 years before the ledger book shows the press being sold.

Fritz1, That’s really interesting, I hope this press will be as easily traceable! I will be getting it in the next couple weeks.

Is there any general operating techniques I should look out for with this press? I have never used one quite like it. I know the inking carriage is likely just for show at this point, and I will hand ink whatever I am printing, but it seems like there is little information out there on this specific style of press.

(Author) used the same style press `54 - `60 exclusively for its original purpose, i.e. Galley Proofing with *Monotype* end product on 7” or 9” galleys, the style that incorporates reversible ends as on the >Monotype<
Normally inked up (on day shift) for first proof/readers proof, for everything from the Mono. .
Occasionally on Overtime or Sat. morning inked by hand with Hand Brayer upwards of 7” wide but always (where possible) with a circumference more than the circumference of the rollers on the Machine. Hand inking was/is always a little Hit & Miss for repeat marks, especially when working from the back of an upturned galley, as a *run up* slab, frequently NOT washed up from previous, “`Poke it (the galley) back in the galley rack down low,“ and still get Time and a Quarter ??
Re the packing on the Cylinder, appears to be rigged with modern litho blanket, presumably readily available (as redundant ex Litho House) Stateside.
Way back, the packing was a little less sophisticated,!! i.e. normally traditional Felt (next the cylinder) 1 -2 sheets news print and then conventional Oiled Manilla as top sheet/draw sheet… One disadvantage with such packing, (THEN) incessant use with galley after galley, around the shift, usually with Monotype first proof,s at upwards of 20” length, type area, per pull, crucified the packing, the proof reader was often >less than impressed<… Obviously NOT a problem with modern Litho Blanket?? . .Good Luck. Mick.
First proof, Ink Monkey/Devil for 6 Yrs.

One thing different from later Vandercooks is that this style is ambidexterous and works in either direction. You have ink plates at each end, and the ink carriage and cylinder function to the left or to the right. At the end of travel, the ink carriage nests beneath the cylinder.
Of course if you are proofing a galley of type you want to go from the open end of the galley, but otherwise you can save a lot of motion and print each way.

I am bringing this post back to light, as the press, which will be named Dora after its late former owner has been safely moved to its new home at Martha Street Studio.

The press has a 10” wide bed, so I guess that makes it a No. 20, and its serial number is 2131.
I hope this can be traced to its age.

As for its history, I know it was purchased from a long retired printer in 1977 here in Winnipeg, and the owners son recalls it being located on the second floor of 344 Cumberland Avenue, Winnipeg, Also known as the Nokomis Building. It required his high school football team to move it from the printer to his mothers basement.
I know at one point there was a printer on the 4th floor of that building, Regent Press (I believe), and this may be where the press had been.

Thank you for your comments Fritz, Mick and Parallel_imp!

According to the serial number table (compiled by the late Hal Sterne, the former owner of NA Graphics), this press was built in 1924.

NA Graphics has the original sales record books, so can tell you who the first owner was.

Thanks Paul, I will contact NA Graphics about the manufacture date and who the customer was.

I have looked and the card for this press is not in the files and the ledger book covering this time period is also not present. It was most likely shipped in December 1924 based on the numbers before and after this one. Often when a press is still in circulation, the card was pulled for a previous owner and may have not been returned to its proper place in the card file, which currently has about 30,000 cards.

Further digging and I found the card for this press. It was shipped December 23, 1924 to R. S. Polk & Co., 431 Howard Street, Detroit, Michigan. On 12/10/57, it is noted by H. Hochuli as being at R. L. Polk & Company at 179 Lincoln St., Boston, Mass.

The original entry should have been R. L. Polk, a company founded in 1870 and still very much in business publishing automotive information including Carfax. Polk also publishes various business directories.


Thank you for digging deeper and finding the card!

I would be very interested in finding out how it ended up in Winnipeg after spending time on the east coast.

I will keep this information, along with what I know from its last 40 years with the press