Letterpress Choice

I am looking for some advice in the direction I should go. I currently have three presses available to me from our family business. I started in letterpress 50+ years ago, but have not been active for a few years. These presses have been in storage for a number of years, with one or two operational today and one or so needing some serious rebuild work.

The presses are:
- Heidelberg Windmill 10 x 15, black ball
- Chandler & Price 10 x 15, early 1900’s
- The Babcock Printing press, Standard (22 x 26?), late 1890’s

If you had these 3 presses, which one would you work with/rebuild and why?

I also may consider selling the ones that I would not bring back to life.

Any suggestions or ideas are welcome.

Thanks you for your time.

Log in to reply   4 replies so far

So a lot depends on what you want to do….these three presses cover 3 different key parts of printing. Having all three of these lets a print shop do lots of different stuff.

-Windmill: Fast, high rate production, good quality printing. Again fast, high rate - a work horse!!!!
- C&P: Great hand feed press, great die cutting and printing. Not fast, Not high rate production number type press.
-Babcock: Posters printing/large, slow. Will do stuff the other two can’t.

I agree with Liberty, what are you wanting to print? I’ve had a similar mix in the past; 5 windmills, a C&P, and a Miehle 29 letterpress. I ended up downsizing to a smaller shop with the 5 windmills doing a variety of commercial printing, foiling, die-cutting. I did that because I needed to run a profitable shop!
Does the Babcock probably need the most restoration? If I had the time, space and money, that would be my choice to restore. The Babcock is probably collectible, the others, not so much.

Being into printing history, I’d want to restore the Babcock. They’re much rarer than the other two, and just really fascinating to me. But I’m not trying to make a profit with my equipment. I’m just trying to get stuff I think is fun to play with.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

Thank you for your comments. No longer running a business, so more like mephits comment of just get stuff to play with. The C&P and Heidelberg require little to no work to make operational, other than new rollers. The Babcock will require a total rebuild, as it has not had an easy life over the last few years. Have no idea when it last ran, as my grandfather had it in our printing shop for the 50+ years that I know of and I never saw it running.

Will do some more research on how to rebuild the Babcock and see what I come up with.