Early Line O Scribe Showcard Writer

Hey all, I just wanted to share a press I picked up recently. This is an early Line O Scribe Showcard Writer. I believe it would be made somwhere around 1926-1937, since it has the Adrian Michigan name plate on it, before Line O Scribe was bought by globe and then transitioned to Morgan. This one is the 14x22” version, even though the bed of the press is quite a bit longer than that, that is the impression area denoted by the press bed.

I found this on Facebook marketplace, and picked it up for $50 near Detroit. Seems to be complete, and in decent shape. I need to clean up some surface rust, and I may choose to repaint it, but overall quite clean. It even came with an assortment of extra bed plates. Apparently they were considered a consumable item for some of these early ones. they are coated in some type of sticky resin, and reading suggests that Line O Scribe purposely coated the base with glue so you could “lock up” type by just pulling an impression and embedding your type in the sticky glue.

If anyone has any more information on these older ones, I’d love to see it! I’m suprised we don’t see this variety more, its quite light for its size, yet still maintains an adjustable impression, and twin impression rollers. (there is a second impression roller that runs underneath the press bed to provide a backside squeeze on the press. The press body is made of sheet steel)

Brent Comstock
Ink and Iron Letterpress

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I have the smaller version of this press and love it. I can’t tell from the photo of yours, but mine has two type cases beneath the press bed. You also might be missing the spring steel gripper bars.

I was not aware the bed plate was removable, but it makes sense, since the printed grid would be scratched away with much use. I use galley magnets and/or quoins to lock up the type against the rails. Sometimes I lock it up in a small chase and lock that into the bed.

The upper grid sheet is also removable. I remade it into a printable pdf so I could replace it every so often. I think it’s usable for the larger one like yours, if you want a copy.


There were two Line-O-Scribe companies, the majority of presses still in use appear to be those by Morgan of Chicago.


James, you are correct, I am missing the gripper bars. I may just make do without them, or possibly try to build new ones. My press does not have any drawers underneath, although I can see how a couple would fit under it. And I’d love a copy of that upper grid pdf, I’m sure it would likely fit, if it’s too small I could modify it a bit to work for this one.

platenprinter, There were actually 3 companies that used the name Line-o-scribe. They appear to have been successors to each other if you look at patent dates and such. This version is the Adrian Michigan company, then around 1937 it appears to have been bought by the Globe company of Chicago. The same press can be found with a globe company nameplate. Then eventually you see the Morgan company pop up. I assume Morgan either changed it’s name, or more likely, was acquired by Morgan.

Having been born and raised in Michigan, I love that I found an early version that was made in Michigan. And quite a unique design compared to most of the following Line-o-Scribe presses too.


Since I can’t upload pdfs to the forum, here are links for anyone to download the printable grid pdfs:

• 11x17 Document (w/ full bleed grid)


• 13x19 Document (w/ 11x17 grid)


I print mine on 13x19 100# cardstock and use the original as a template to trace around (aligning the grids on both for proper placement) and then cut the new one down to size.

Thanks a bunch! Looks like I have the next size up, I believe mine is a 14x22, but I can just modify and upsize your 13x19 version a bit, and it will work perfectly. Does yours have the steel sandwich tympan with some form of board in the middle? Looking around online it appears they were made in a few different ways.

I love the impression adjustment on this press, should make a lovely proof/poster press to suplement my C&P.

No problem! Is the grid 14x22, or is that the bed size? If you give me the exact dimensions of the grid, I’ll create new pdfs. I’d love them for my own digital hoarding, I mean for posterity.

The grid is 14x22, and has one more of those incremental “plus” shapes in bold out toward the edges.

Also, I love your comment about digital hoarding. I keep a letterpress folder on my pc for just that. Broken down into manuals, photos, reading material, and catalogs. I completely understand, and thanks a bunch.


moe_szys1ak If and when you do the 14 X 22, I’d love to have a copy for mine. Thank you.
Winfred Reed
Black Diamond Press (Kentucky)

Here’s the 14x22 grid:


That’s a bit bigger than most desktop printers can print, so you may need to have it printed, or tile it across a few sheets and tape it together.

moe_szys1ak, thankfully I work in prepress and have a wide format HP printer right next to my desk at work. Thanks a bunch, I appreciate it!

There isn’t a ton out there for these showcard presses, so the more posts there are to document things and house items like those pdf’s, the more help to future printers.

I made some replacement grids a few years back. The 1411 I bought had a metal plate, but it was banged up pretty bad. I took a steel sheet, powdercoated it, and then laser-etched the grid onto it. I also made a handful for M711s, and sent to a couple of friends, alongside my own.

If anyone wants the files, let me know :)

image: lineoscribe711.png


image: lineoscribe1411.png


James, thanks so much for the grid pdf.
Winfred Reed

kimaboe, I’d love that file, if you’re willing to share! I have several of the base sheets, but I”m not certain if I will use them or if I’d prefer to preserve them as is, with the sticky glue and slip sheets between them/ glued to them.


If anyone wants to do some reading on the early Adrian Michigan Line-O-Scribe machines, here is a link to a portion of a catalog. Someone on here sent this to me a while back, but just copied the pieces of the catalog that were relevant.


If anyone is looking for a later model there is one here.