Miles Nervine Galley Press

I’m wondering if any press historians out there have any thoughts on who made the Miles Nervine advertising proof presses? I know the story behind it, but dates as to the press’ distribution are not clear. The International Printing Museum has two different makers listed (Hoe and Challenge), although Challenge didn’t come into being until 1893, whereas Miles Nervine was introduced in 1885. The story of them being made by Hoe has been parroted by a number of writers, without any real proof. Schneidewend & Lee in Chicago had been making presses since at least 1884, and was later reorganized as the Challenge Company. Does anyone have a catalogue from the Schneidewend & Lee Company that lists Galley Presses? Or from the early days of the Challenge Company? I’m hoping to find photos of Hoe, Challenge, Miles and ???? presses for comparision.

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As far as handpresses go, I have a Schniedewend Reliance from around the turn of the last century. I recently helped the Printer’s Hall Museum obtain a Wm. A Field Reliance. In the continuing research to find out more about the Wm. A. Field Co.’s manufacturing of Reliance presses, it appears that they did so for a very brief period around 1913, after Paul Schniedewend died and before Ostrander-Seymour took over the manufacturing of the Reliance handpress. Did Challenge eventually absorb Ostrander-Seymour????

I’ll see what I can find in my old catalogs about the galley proof presses. I can tell you that the cylinders and bases are not compatible between some of these manufacturers.

Wm. A. Field was the restructured company after the death of Paul Schneidewend. Ostrander-Seymour did not make the Reliance press, it’s manufacture stopped with the end of the Field Company. The small catalogue I have for Wm. A. Field lists a 1915 Award from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition for the Reliance Press, which puts the catalogue at mid to late 1915 or 1916. The Ostrander-Seymour Company continued at least into WWII having moved to Cicero, Illinois, although I can’t imagine they sold handpresses much into the mid 1920s. Ostrander -Seymour carried the Reliance Press in catalogue No. 21 which dates to 1923, perhaps they had bought up old stock, or were working on percentage. My copy belonged to the Max Levy Company whose product was carried in the catalogue and was received 7/23/23. I saw in an old post that you have O-S Co. catalogue No. 23,with no Reliance listed, so presumably the Wm. A. Field Co. closed shortly after my catalogue.

The Challenge Company still exists in Grand Haven, Michigan and still makes paper cutters. The Company started out as Schneidewend & Lee, in Chicago in 1870. The partnership broke-up in 1893 and was re-organized as the Challenge Machinery Company, moving to Michigan at that time. I know of no Washington style handpress made by Challenge.

Thanks for your kind words on our mutual type quest. It’s a lot of fun to research the details, I just wish I had more industry publications, it would make the job easier.


Paul and Rick,

In my search for more info on Shniedewend and Field I found that Wm. A. Field Co. was still listed in the Chicago city directory of 1923 as electrotyping, photo engraving, and stereotyping machinery manufacturers or dealers — no telling whether they were still making Reliance presses then. I need to look at more city directories to get a better sense of the evolution of the companies, which I hope to do this Fall on the way to or from the Wayzgoose.



I couldn’t find much definitive to add to your search. I have a Challenge in my shop and have passed up several Miles Nervine galley presses over the years because they would be redundant. I can tell you however that there are at least TWO versions of the Miles Nervine presses. I can’t recall the exact wording, but I have seen two different variations on the working cast into the base of the Miles presses.

Miles Nervine on both, then Miles Pain Pills or Miles Heart Cure is cast into the variations. It is the only press of it’s kind which has a slight flare to the side rails that I have seen. That may or may not be the ultimate clue to the maker. I currently have a larger Challenge Galley Press, but it is made slightly differently.

According to my sources it would be incorrect to say that there is a Miles Nervine press. The press with the Miles • Nervine names on it, is referring to Dr Franklin Miles and the product “Nervine”, hence the ornament between the two names. The press this appears on was manufactured by R. Hoe. As a side note, there are related posts referring to a similar but older proof press (circa 1850) that was also manufactured by R. Hoe and not Challenge or “Miles Nervine”.

The press was sold as Miles’ Nervine. The thing you call an ornament is an apostrophe. As yet there is no documented evidence as to who actually manufactured the press. Since Dr. Miles kept his business close to home, he had a large printing plant in his factory in Elkhart, Indiana it is a reasonable assumption that he also bought things that he couldn’t manufacture himself from local sources. I posit that Schneidewend & Lee in Chicago made his presses, or, depending on when he actually used the presses for adverts scheme, the Challenge Company in Grand Haven, Michigan. A third possiblity is that they were made at a large local foundry in Elkhart.


I don’t know who made the Miles Nervine proof presses, but I do know that Schniedewend & Lee made and sold very similar proof presses. The image posted is from their 1888 catalogue, and it says very plainly, “our own manufacture.”

Hoe made and sold this type of press from the beginning - one of their managers got the idea, as recounted in “Chronicles of Genius & Folly,” the history of the company by Comparato. And I would speculate that Schniedewend & Lee made the Miles Nervine version, though there is no proof of that.

image: Schniedewend catalogue 1888.gif

Schniedewend catalogue 1888.gif

Based on a recent purchase it seems likely Schneidewend did make it. Here are images of the MIles Pain Pills and Miles Heart Cure presses. Notice that the Heart cure has what appears to be a zero on the bottom. Given the measure of the No. 0 in the catalogue, it would seem that the Miles presses could be No. 0 S&L’s.