take workshop before buying the letterpress or v.v.?

hi! i’m a letterpress novice—or rather someone with no-knowledge at all; but i am very much interested in learning how to letterpress. i found 3 pressses that are for sale here in Manila, Philippines (chandler & price 12x18, minerva 10x15 and minerva 10x12 manual)— and i am quite sure there are no workshops here that teach letterpress. however, this october, i will be going to california and i will be able to attend a couple of workshops. my question is should i buy the letterpress now or wait until i’m done with workshops? and which letterpress among the three would be best for me in starting out? they are all quite very cheap.


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Should you buy a truck, a full size car, or a bicycle? Well, that depends on what you wish to do.
Should you buy any one of these before you know how to operate it? Maybe, but probably not.
Are they in good condition and ready to print, or does one require repair and the other not? Do you know what you intend to print? You have lots of questions to answer.
Normally one should learn the skills before buying the equipment.
The 12 X 18 press is a big heavy commercial size press. It isn’t really appropriate for entry level hobby printing.
There have to be lots of old letterpress printers in Manila. Find them. Ask questions. There probably are some shops still doing some letterpresss work. Find them and ask for the opportunity to sweep the floors, watch, clean the press, and ask questions.


thanks for the input—i agree that the 12x18 and even the 10x15 is much too big to start out with. we’ll probably go for the manual press. the sellers have offered to show us that their machines are in good operating condition. so i can probably ask their operator/technician to teach me a few things about the operation and such. i am looking forward to learning more about letterpress. :)

amandaeustaquio - You may also find some helpful information in the Beginner's Guide to Buying a Letterpress

I started out on a 10 x 15 and it was fine. No prior experience with letterpress printing outside of knowing that I loved the look and love of working with my hands to make things. I sit at my day job banging out design work that goes to offset printers. I have taught myself everything with the help of different web sites and a handful of books that fell into my lap. Occasionally I will ask other printers how they did a project so I can add some more diverse styles and services to my list I currently offer.

If I was not very mechanically inclined I would have sought a class to attend to learn the basics. You can most likely pick up on the things that took me months to figure out in a few days. I do however love enjoy giving things a try first once I get a basic overview. It is however something that I was determined to get into not just a passing whim. You really must want to do it. If you are on the fence you should definitely do more research.

It was about a year’s worth of looking and reading before I found my first press. Remember, the presses are HEAVY, take up more room than you think, drip oil, and drive your wife nuts unless it is paid job work. Well my wife anyway!

thanks elizabeth, i will read that. :) i’m also going to look for books on letterpress here—if there are any available.

it’s fancy: it’s nice to hear about someone who got into letterpress just because. i like to work with my hands too, and even if i take classes, i’ll have a lot of more learning to do! :) it’s a good thing my husband supports this crazy thing i’m going to get into.