Westman and Baker

I’m completely new to letterpress. I’m going to check out a Westman and Baker. Looks like it’s been sitting in barn or garage for many years. I don’t believe the seller is the original owner, so he’s not very helpful. I will take any suggestions or guidance anyone can provide. I’m hoping to find a schematic or diagram of the press I can bring with me to compare for parts.

**I tried to attach an image but it’s not cooperating**

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If you are talking about a platen jobber, I believe Westman & Baker either produced or re-badged C&P presses, so parts ought to be available but probably with some difficulty. But the standard things like rollers and trucks and a chase ought to be fairly easy to source. It will undoubtedly need a thorough cleaning.Try to get any other equipment to go with it if available.


Westman & Baker made a press that was basically identical to the Gordon platen. Quite different than a C&P in terms of parts interchangeability. I’d recommend the C&P unless I had a good sense of the condition of the W&B.

Westman and Baker.were a Canadian engineering company that made printing presses and other equipment. They were Toronto-based, this press would be a fine addition to a Canadian print shop. They apparently went out of business in 1922, so the press you are looking at is at least 100 years old. The design is a typical “Gordon” style machine. so it wouldn’t be too intimidating if a part had to be made. I believe the Canada Science and Technology Museum has such a press.

I found a Westman press in a scrap yard about 2009. I like the press vs. a C&P due to the location of the throw-off handle, see attached picture (circled). It is right where you need it. This press had a foot treadle too, a big consideration if you are running it manually instead of using a motor.

image: Press 1.jpg

Press 1.jpg

My gosh you are a very knowledgeable group. Dan J, the handle was actually detached from the press and we didn’t know what is was for. Your pic solved one mystery! Any chance you still have the foot peddle? :-)

My husband is deliberating whether to get it or not. I’m pretty set in the C&P, just need to figure a few things out.

Looks like a “New Style” Gordon - superior to the C&P in many ways. If true to form, the BED adjusts, not the platen, short roller arm springs, and a smaller footprint. The Throw-off is superior - more direct, less awkward linkage to bind up. GP Gordon (and others) offered this style after 1885, but C&P was established with the out-of-patent “Old Style” press for economic reasons. (Note: the C&P “New Series” after 1912 are Old Style presses). Machine screws are likely non-standard, but can be reproduced by a competent machine shop.

It’s good you found the throw-off lever, and a treadle could be made out of wood. Note that there are reproduction treadles from a company in the U.S. (Hern Iron Works) however they are for C&P’s and are pricey. I posted on Briar Press about the Westman in 2009, but there were no takers. I understand the press was scrapped later that year. Interesting side note, the press I saw in 2009 was missing the flywheel. The scrap yard said a museum came by to take it for their press. No consideration for the rest of it!

The W & B, as already mentioned, is what they call a new style Gordon. The new style was never as good as the old style, hence the reason why Chandler & Price, on taking over Gordon’s IP, decided to bring back and build the original old style press. Your best bet is a C&P. Meanwhile, we have a few Westman & Bakers in our museum, and at least one parts press in storage.

the Gordon/W&B new style didn’t allow the platen to open as flat as the old style. This was a turnoff for most people. Ironically the English “Arab” is nothing more than a copy of the new style Gordon/W & B. our Howard iron works museum had to have at least something Canadian; that’s why we have them here.