C&P Letterpress for a beginner…

Hello everyone!

I have an opportunity to buy a C&P 10x15 old style press, something I’ve been dreaming of for years and years. I’ve attached photos of it below. I’m going to take a look at it on Friday, but I wanted to get some advice from the experts in the meantime ;)

I am a letterpress newbie, so I expect that some people are going to tell me to do my research, or that this is simply over my head, but the price on this is simply unbeatable.

This press is in the basement, which I believe is what accounts for its low price tag. Does anyone have experience moving these beasts out of basements? I’ve read some discussion topics about moving presses, and lots of people suggest only taking them apart as a last resort. However, if this is in someone’s BASEMENT, I can’t see how not taking it apart is an option. Any thoughts?

Also, the photo shows a switch on the front of it…does this mean that it’s been outfitted with a motor? I’d much prefer a non-motorized press, so if this is indeed a motor, how easy is it to remove?

The current owner says that it works, but needs to be cleaned. I am sure that some parts will need to be replaced, however (I mean, what are the chances that this thing is in perfect shape?) so I was wondering if there are certain parts in these presses that are commonly replaced after sitting for awhile? Just trying to get an idea of what COULD be wrong…

Like I said, the price is right for this guy, so if its humanly possible to get it out of the basement, I’m pretty determined to do it. Any advice or problems that I might not be expecting…please let me know!

Thanks for your help!

image: houseprinterpics 006.jpg

houseprinterpics 006.jpg

image: houseprinterpics 003.jpg

houseprinterpics 003.jpg

Log in to reply   12 replies so far

The subject as to whether a C&P are suitable for a Newbie has been debated at length here on Briar Press on numerous occasions. I would sugest that you do a search and read all of the opinions before you decide to purchase such a machine. Yes…. do your research.

My own opinion is that such a machine is not a beginner’s press since they can and will bite your fingers off if you are not careful. However, if you have had suitable instruction and are very attentive to your work, they are great machines.

Newbies have to start somewhere - if you can afford to buy and move it - I say grab it and put it somewhere reasonably protected and warm (preferably street-level, not down any stairs) until you learn how to use it. This will give you time to clean it up and buy new rollers (~$300 or so, minimum), and a new treadle from Hern Iron works. This is a press which could last you a lifetime.

any press in a basement is not easy to move, they seem to go down stairs easier than up. you would most likely have to take it apart to get it up the stairs, these are heavy even taken apart. don’t know where you are located but i know of a 10x15 street level for sale in southeastern massachusetts, about the only thing it needs is new rollers. good luck dick g. winking cat is right, you should get some lessons before operating the press, they can bite really hard, also you want a motor to treadle a 10x15 is not easy.


A few months ago I moved a 10x15 out of a basement. I’m happy to share everything I learned and the approach that we used to move the press up the stairs. Tonight, I’ll send you notes on how we moved it.

Can you take a picture of the stairs that this has to go up and post here?

I’m learning on a 10x15. I think you should do a lot of research, use precaution, and go for it.


WCP - Yes, I have read some of the other topics on C&P letterpresses for beginners. I agree totally, safety is my top priority, and I have no intention of running the press without doing my research. Slow and steady wins the race.

As a beginner, my main concerns before buying a press are:

-how to get it out of the basement and into the studio without breaking it or ourselves
-making sure that the parts to make it functional don’t totally override the cost of the press. Worse than needing expensive parts would be discovering that certain parts are impossible to find/buy! I was told that it needs new rollers, and $300 for rollers is fine, but if it needs some $500 bolt from 1905, well, that’s not gonna happen. So I’m very willing to put money into this over the years, but within reason.

I saw on another post (http://www.briarpress.org/171150) that someone took their C&P 10x15 apart into 2 main halves, however that one was a NS, and I’m looking at an OS. I wonder if this is possible for the one I’m interested in?

Thanks again for all advice!

Joshua - It was your experience with a C&P that I was referring to in my last comment, as you posted yours! Haha funny timing.

I am going to check it out on Friday, I’ll take pictures/measurements then. If there is anything else I should be taking note of while I’m there, let me know. Door sizes/tight corners are obvious, but is there anything I’m not thinking of?

Thanks so much!

Why am I so bad at reading everyone’s comments before I post mine? Haha.

Bill - This is exactly what I had in mind! I’ve been on the lookout for letterpresses in my area (Philadelphia) for three years, and I’ve never come across one as inexpensive as this. I’m in no rush to start printing, but I feel like I can’t pass this up. I am so glad you commented, this has reassured me a bit!

(Also, the studio I’m planning on transporting it to is an old warehouse, so it has all the loading docks/freight elevators I need to get it in place! Exactly where a machine like this belongs, if you ask me.)

dickg - You think I should keep the motor on it? Other posts have implied that motors are more dangerous than they are useful. Was I misreading? I understand that all presses have their risks. Of course, if it’s too difficult to use without a motor, I will just have to accept and appreciate that, I suppose.

What would a beginner do without you guys?? Thanks!

Unless you find something actually cracked in two whe you go see it, I buy it immediately. From the photos at least it looks really good. All the parts appear to be there in addition to a counter and ink fountain. I don’t see a chase but perhaps there are one or more (I got six with mine) laying about and if not they are pretty easily to get. You can even make them out of wood which I’ve done myself. It’s possible parts may be missing but I doubt it. A photo of the other side of the press would be helpful.

Dirt and rust clean off and it looks like the feed and delivery boards will clean up OK. Some people like to replace these anyway but aside from cleaning I like to keep it original where possible. It’s not nearly as dirty as some I’ve moved. It looks like it has a motor behind it which I assume is what the switch is for. I recently upgraded from an 8x12 to a 10x15 and am glad I did.

I’ve moved several presses out of basements including my 10x15. Taking them apart is not difficult and it will make cleaning it easier. You’ll also get to know the press really well which will help as you learn to use it. You need at least two people, three or four is better depending mostly on the nature of the stairs. Make no mistake, even with smaller parts removed and the two main parts separated, it’s heavy. More info on the stairs and what’s at the top of them is essential. But where there’s a will there’s a way.

Without knowing the terrain you’ll need to traverse such as the kind and number of stairs, what’s at the top of the stairs, etc. it’s difficult top propose a course of action. But if it got down there it can come out.

Yes, baring some surprise tomorrow I’d snatch it up. By the way, I live a little north of Philadelphia in Milford, NJ so perhaps can help if needed.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

Here are some notes from our move.

This press was a New Series, I can’t speak to differences between disassembling an Old Series versus a New Series but I imagine they are pretty similar. We disassembled the press into two halves before the move (see pics - not sure if they are still available on briar somewhere from my first post).

The main equipment that we used were a comealong (purchased from Lowes), an appliance dolly and some long boards that we layed down on the stairs. On the appliance dolly, we placed a wood support to act as a base for the press to rest on. Then we secured the press half to the appliance dolly with ratchet straps. We secured the comelong to the top of the stairs, then attached the hook to the appliance dolly and press. We only had two people, myself and another guy. One of us cranked the comealong (above press) and the other guided the press and dolly along the wood board ramp on the stairs. I recommend that you don’t have anyone under the press in case something gives way. I suggest that you have 3 or 4 people assist.

For our move, the press actually had to go out a door into the garage that was about 3/4 way up the stairs. So, we were able to wrap the comealong around a sturdy board that we placed across the doorway at the top of the stairs. Do you have anything beyond the door that you can anchor the comealong to?

Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Joshua DeWitt
Bellus Letterpress
www.bellusletterpress.com (coming soon)
Denver, Colorado

image: 2.jpg


image: 1.jpg


I would explore the idea of renting an electric winch, rather than a hardware store come-along. Trying to drag a lot of weight out of a basement is probably putting more stress and virtual weight (I am sure there are mathematical equations for this) than most come-alongs are rated. When I move presses I am inclined to overdo to be extra safe. I prefer to use chains instead of straps. I anchor the load in several places while pulling. If you have the right tools you might not need to disassemble the press at all. If one had the right pulley system it would be possible to extract a press from a basement with one person. I have a small block and tackle that allows me to dead-lift 600lbs straight into the air by myself. As Mr. Natural said, “Use the right tool for the job.”


I agree, overdo safety. The comealong we used was a cable type, rated for 2 ton or 4,000. You might break out a physics book to determine the actual stress/weight. :)

Be safe, please.


when you check out the press take off the top sheet and make sure the platten is not welded also close the press by hand then grab the platen at the top and pull on it, there should not be movement , if you can move it the press is worn, make sure the chase is out of the press when you do this. other than that make sure there aren’t welds or cracks in the press. if you want to call me i will give you my phone, i have moved a few presses out of basements and would be happy to talk to you about it, dick g.