new proof press

Does anyone still produce NEW proof presses like the
Vandercook and Challenge presses?

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I don’t think anyone is. There is a good chance I’m wrong though. There is Little Joe, which makes small presses for ink makers to run tests on. The presses are also used by the flexo folks, and might fit a .918 block…

The closest you will find to a big press is one of two options:

Some companies (FAG comes to mind) sell refurb presses.

Other companies sell etching presses, most of which can open up enough for relief printing…Though registration is always a bit of an adventure.

If someone wanted to start making Vandercooks again (say, Fritz Klinke, the current owner of the Vandersons IP), it would probably be a multimillion dollar proposition to get any economy of scale.

I’ve idly looked at what it would take to put a press (perhaps a pilot, or a flatbed cylinder) back into production…It would take a huge amount of work. Making casting patterns, precision bed machining/grinding, the turning and gear work, perhaps OSHA compliance…The list is lengthy, and new flatbed presses would have to sell for $20,000 at a bare minimum. New tabletops could probably be sold for $5,000…If, and only if there were enough pre-orders to justify making tooling/jigs, and getting that economy of scale.

Sorry for the verbose answer.

There’s a small company in the UK that makes a simplified proof press designed for relief printmaking. It features an adjustable bed and bed grippers, but no inking mechanism. It sells for £ 7,714.00 ($12,708.43).

But I repeat myself. The archives show that I mention this same press a year ago.

Heh. I commented in that thread, Paul…And I forgot that I did. Teaches me to try and think at midnight…Something about cost-effectiveness, which is the enemy of new presses. The old ones were just built too damn well to make new ones competitive.

Ah well…The search function is our friend.

I was just watching something on Jay Leno’s garage about 3D printers. I wondered if anyone had connections to a university with such a machine. Looked like they could copy the parts of a press, and make castings at a reasonable expense.
A Pilot could be reproduced in aluminum like the Craftsmen Monarch much more affordably than cast iron. Once a 3D scan was made of the parts, the press could be made to any scale.
Just some food for thought.

Let’s pretend brand new platen presses and proof presses were going to be made. How would you improve on the golden oldies we are all now using? What feature (if any) do you think most calls for betterment or modernization?

I know it is not a high production press, but the Albion hand-presses being made by Steve and Ben Pratt in Utah are beautifully made. It is a recasting of the press owned by Lewis and Dorothy Allen with a platen measuring 10” x 15”. They have used better materials than the original, and have made about twenty of them which are scattered around the world.


You can’t just scale up a press design to make a larger press. Type-height is a constant, as is the human hand which manipulates handles, etc.; that’s why printers can look at a picture posted here and know from the proportions whether a C&P is 8x12 or 10x15, and why a 9x12 Kelsey looks so different from a 5x8.

Parallel_imp - You are right. In haste, I hadn’t thought of that. While not impossible to correct, it would take considerable engineering.

The other problem with direct copies of existing presses has to do with pattern-making technicalities. Patterns are made oversized, because iron shrinks as it cools, so direct copies from existing parts isn’t possible. Everything (including height to paper) ends up a couple percent too small.

However: boundstaff, you mention something important: A 3D printer would be an amazing tool to make patterns with. It would be far easier for a non-master pattern-maker to ‘print’ the pattern from a CAD file than to make it out of wood.

Now, there are a few Techshops around (Bay area, Portland, Durham). The PDX location is getting a 3D printer, and will have iron casting capabilities next year. The printer is probably a Dimension SST (10” x 10 ” x 12” volume). It will be possible for a well-practiced hobby machinist to make a small or mid-sized tabletop with their machinery. It would take a few months to make patterns…and casting…Then the whole thing would have to be machined and fitted. As a side hobby project, someone could have a new tabletop in…Oh maybe 2 years.

The problem with an 8x12 or a Universal I is that the primary castings would require a 500-1000 pound pour. Not cheap, and not for an amateur.

The Pratts (as clothdog mentions) are probably the definitive knowledge-base for a project like this. I wonder what their time investment and production schedule schedule is like?

Hi frozentundra,

I asked a similar question to yours about a year back. Someone pointed me to a German company Druken & Lernen. They produce simple proofing presses with a bed size ranging from A5 up to A2. Would these be suitable, or are you really after something more like the Vandy SP15 or Model 4 ? Anyway I’ve attached a link to one of their web pages below :

I have spent the best part of two years looking for a suitable proofing press on eBay, and recently I found one, at the fraction of the price of a new one would cost. So maybe searching eBay may be your best bet.

Hope this helps …



I am looking for something like a nice Vanderccok
Universal iV would be sweet. I have been watching ebay but have not seen anything for sale.

Print & Learn makes an interesting product.

There is no registration though, and the beds aren’t cast. They look like zinc-plated thick steel plate. There will be long-term durability issues. Still, it’s cool to see someone making the equipment. I have a Nolan of a similar style and size, and it made a great beginner press.

I’m interested in their lead-free type. Monotype apparently, and RoHS compliance all at once? That’s got to be an interesting day at the caster.

What you see on the photos of Drucken und Lernen press, is the galley (Satzschiff) that comes with the press. The press itself is one of the sturdiest proofing presses I’ve seen recently. German made, quality materials.

Cool! I’m glad to know I wasn’t looking at a zinc-plate welded press bed.

My German is nonexistent, alas.

At Drucken und lernen they speak fluent English!

Well if anyone has a resource to find used Vandercooks please let me know.

Finding a viable Vandercook press has been difficult.

They are very rare

The press shown in the ebay photos is a Vandercook 05, not a 4. There is a considerable difference in those two models. I’d need to do a little checking but there don’t appear to be any ink rollers on this press.


I think the form rollers are there.
This is a galley press, but with an inking system more elaborate than most galley presses: two forms, an oscillator and a rider. Ignoring diameters, only a drum and rider short of a No. 4.
I saw this model at New College, and if I remember correctly, the actions are automatic. Roll the carriage back, cylinder lifts and rollers ink. Lay down proof paper on top of the form. Roll carriage other direction cylinder drops and rollers lift.
Great for galley proofing, but for production printing, far less useful than most other Vandercooks.