Restoring a Hoe & Co Press

Hi all,

The artist studios where I rent a space for my printing equipment have a Hoe & Co iron hand press in their open access print space which is a little worse for wear, and they are hoping to restore it and to encourage more use. Currently it’s only used for the occasional lino cut, but has a lot of potential to work alongside the other etching and screenprinting open access facilities here.

The press was donated to them by a local community college (who we assume are responsible for the paint job) who no longer had any use for it.

Some photos are attached, but the main issues are to do with the belt and the frisket / tympan.

We’re not sure whether the snapped belt on the underside is the original, or a makeshift design, so if anyone has photos or diagrams of the correct design and installation of the belt and fixings how it should attach to the press, that would be very useful.

Secondly, the frisket is missing, and the way in which the tympan frame has been put together doesn’t look original. I imagine that tracking down a replacement frisket would be very difficult, and is probably not necessary for what the press would be used for here. However, any photos or diagrams of how this should look would be much appreciated, specifically how the tympan paper should be attached.

Also, what kind of paper is typically used as tympan for presses like these?

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Can you do me two favors — tell me the name of the community college, so I can check the North American Hand Press Database to see if I had the press recorded, and if not, the second favor is to tell me the name, address, etc. of the current owners/possessors of the press, so I can be sure it gets recorded correctly. I would also like to record the length and width measurements of the platen and of the tympan.

Secondly, contact me through BP with a non-BP email address, and I will send a several-page “worksheet” I have assembled about hand press tympans and friskets. Later Washington handpresses typically did not have a frisket and often have not retained their tympan if they had one originally. However, the tympan installed, in the photos, looks like an original Hoe unit. If there is any evidence of attachment of hinges on the iron bar opposite the hinge end that would be for a frisket, which can be easily made by a blacksmith. I have suggestions for covering both.

I can also help with details of how to set up the press for operation, including the installation of the “girts”, or leather straps you referred to that move the bed in and out through use of the crank.


Also, if you would please send me the original of the overall photo of the press, for my records, that would be helpful. I like to record the serial number of the press, which is visible but not legible in the photo here. Thanks!

And I just looked at the close-up of the iron bar on the tympan and can see the hinge for the frisket, so the press had one at one time. Easy to replace it.


Hi Bob,

Thanks for the information. I perhaps should have mentioned that this press is located in the UK, so I assume was built here and may not be eligible for your North American database? In any case, the serial number has sadly been painted over, if you are referring to the oval after the word ‘No.’ which is cast in the press? There is another number cast on the other side, which I guess must be the model number. Did they happen to stamp the serial number anywhere else on the press, to your knowledge?

You’ll also notice that the leg at the front of the press is actually from IKEA, as the original has long since disappeared.

I like how someone has created an adjustable lock-up chase on the bed of your press. Very handy for printing smaller items. Were the side and cross members made of wood or steel?

Leather straps are the preferred material for straps, but I have see others use the more available heavy duty woven cargo straps.
Here is a link to a prior BP discussion:

In addition to Bob’s answers, all of your current and perhaps future questions can be answered and illustrated in Gabrial Rummonds (1 volume) book titled “Printing on the Iron Handpress”. A must own book for an owner of such a press.

Rummonds, thanks to Bob Oldham & Fred Voltmer, made a correction to how the straps are attached to the rounce (round wooden barrel) illustration in the book. Bob should send you the corrected version in your contact with him. There use to be an errata website for other book corrections but I do not know if it is still available.

I too like the adjustable lockup system on the bed. I wonder if it is screwed down to the bed. I bet it is an addition — I have never seen that on another hand press.

Also, I can not tell if both the curved extensions of the hinge of the tympan have bolts in their ends or not, one does not seem to. Those bolts are adjustments for the angle of the open tympan, and they are useful as well as important to provide the best support of the open tympan.

I sent RMcDonald a “worksheet” about setting up the press, making a frisket, and making a forestay to replace that Ikea leg, as well as how to install the girts. I was astounded when I saw Rummonds’s diagram in his book. It would never work!


Interesting to know of a Washington handpress in the U.K.- we are relocating from Berkeley, California to the Scottish Borders and bringing our Schniedewend ‘20th Century Reliance’ hand press with us, and had assumed it would be pretty unusual to use a Washington press in the birthplace of the Albion press. Do any Briarpress members know of any other Washington presses in the U.K.? Were they originally sold in Britain by the various American manufacturers or are pressed such as the subject of this post later imports by hobbyists?

In response to Guild of St Alban…druckerkindemarge were advertising for sale a Reliance back in Jan

I also remember that at least one fine press, I believe in Italy, has either a Reliance or a Hoe, which I think they imported but may have found in Europe. I think most of the Hoe/Shniedewend/etc hand presses in UK and the Continent are later 19th and early 20th century ones, made for heavy-duty proofing and maybe stouter than most of the Albions etc, due to the reinforcing of the cheeks.