Advice / Opinions Sought on Proofing Press Options

Hello all,

We have been letterpress printing commercially on our treadle platen press for a few years now and seriously considering expanding our capabilities with a proofing press. Our work is varied and we would use this for book work, posters, larger box printing work etc.

We want an 18” x 24” and Beyond Letterpress here in the UK have three that would fit the bill.

The first is a Vandercook Universal III, which I really like as it has bed adjustment, to allow fine tuning of impression. I’m a fussy bugger and I want to use the proofing press not only so we can do larger work and work with greater surface area of print, but also to continue to refine our printing. So this sort of control over the different print plates we use really appeals. Also this control would be really useful for die cutting and kiss cutting work, which we do do.

However, it is electric feed and really I would like manual feed. Does anyone know if these can have a handle fitted to them? It seems as if the power feed is added afterwards and I believe they did come manual. This press manual would be perfect.

The other two options are Korrex’s, either with or without powered ink rollers. I think if I was going to go down this route I would just go with the unpowered one, to keep it simple. They look a fabulous press, but obviously lack that bed adjustment.

We do need to have the press installed and working by the end of March, so simply waiting for a larger, manual feed, bed adjustment model isn’t really an option.

I would really appreciate all and any feedback on this, views on both presses, the importance of bed height and indeed any experience of Beyond Letterpress (perhaps email me directly with this last bit).

Any questions please just let me know.

Kind regards,


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Crooked Crow Press here in the US converted a Power Uni III to hand crank, so it can be done. It’s real heavy to roll though. You might look on the Vanderblog for documentation as the owner is not really on the internet. He still uses the tower to hold the paper and does really fine work. I love the Universal presses so that’s my vote!

if you pass on the Vandercook and chose one of the Korrex presses, I vote for the one with power inking - I have a Vandercook SP-15 that came with manual inking. It was very tiring to turn the rollers with a crank to ink them - I was able to acquire the parts (from NA Graphics) to add power to the ink rollers and am much happier; not wasting all of my energy inking the rollers.


I found the post about the conversion, you can find it here:

Thank you - I’ll have a look.

We’ve been thinking and chatting more since our initial discussions and we are wondering if we are being too dogmatic with the larger size - maybe a standard size would be a good step up.

They have one with an adjustable bed. Does anyone have any experience with adjustable beds, does it assist in getting a fine impression or really is it not needed?

Are Vandercook worthy of their superior reputation? Is there any issue with an early (1940) one?

With so many options we’re struggling to see the wood for the trees a bit and with lock down here cannot go a look.

Many thanks,


An adjustable bed is great especially if you want to print wood type. I have only printed on Vandercook proof presses, not a Korrex, but I love them and they’re excellent presses. Parts are available, at least in the US. And as far as size- if you think you’ll ever want the larger size, get it now if you have the chance! I would love a larger one but my Uni I is absolutely great.

I have a Saroglia-Canuck that has an adjustable bed and prints just as fine as a Vandercook. Made in Italy, assembled + sold in Canada. Bed is 15.75 x 22” Don Black did the repairs.