E-bay press

Here’s a ‘heads up’ on a 3x5 Kelsey up for bid on E-bay. The press is missing many parts, is non-functional, and has a broken platen casting. Informed of its condition met with a yawn from the seller. Caveat emptor applies to those foolish enough to bid on this doorstop; its current listing is over $100. PT Barnum indeed rules.

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I was gonna buy that to put on a shelf, because it is pretty! And non-functioning antiques impress people!

It will go with those weird shadow boxes I have, the ones with all the different size compartments that someone rudely wrote “Calif. Job” on. They also had a weird handle on the bottom that said “Barnhart Bros. & Spindler”. I threw that out. Why didn’t they make those shadow boxes with hanging hardware on the back? I had to do it myself.

Ill-informed sellers are a blessing and a curse…I have picked up a Rouse micrometer stick (new in box) for very little, yet there are people selling half-complete Kelseys for hundreds. It can be an adventure in bargain shopping. I just don’t bid unless I know exactly what I’m looking at.

Sometimes I wonder if the sellers themselves don’t realize that a press is incomplete, or if they are unscrupulous. BUT as we all should realize by now, the “open market” beyond our community is certainly a buyer-beware situation. It’s unfortunate, but true.

Either way, I tend to make it a rule to not buy a press unless all of the functional parts are included…. and never to buy a press with a broken part in a high stress area like a platen.

As far as the value escalation of Kelseys goes, I think we had better get used to it. As more folks reawaken to letterpress, and old letterpressers retire from their other jobs and take it up as a hobby, we are going to see higher and higher prices for the classic machines.