Boston type letterpress - to scrap it or to resurrect it?

I have an opportunity to have a Boston type printing press. It is neglected, rusty, doesn’t look good and costs about 500 Euro (I’m in Europe). But I don’t want to scrap it, I want to give a second life to it!

As I am newbie to letterpress I have a lot of questions. I also didn’t fix such mechanism ever so please give a piece of advice to me.

Here’s a link to a photo of major parts of this machine (the photo from a link below is bigger than one embedded here in this post):

Can you tell anything about this machine? It is described: Erich Baumeister / Fachgeschäft für Druckereien / Berlin. When was it made, I assume in a 1920’s? Was it a good printing press? Is it worth purchasing, especially in this state and price? What can be a real value of this press?

You can see that there is a lot of rust on this press as well as an old blue paint. How to effectively remove it? What to use to clean a machine? And after, what kind of paint use to paint it? Is this whole process of derusting and painting safe for a precision of printing mechanism?

Bolts are rusty. Clean it or remove it for new ones?

Can you see if something is missing? Do I need any additional missing parts to use it?

As you can see rollers are in an awful state. Is it possible to fix it? Or rather to make a new one, if this is possible in these days? BTW, how many rollers should it have?

There is a closeup of an ink disk. Is it possible to make it like new by polishing?

Maybe you know what can be a weight of this machine? Is it important for me because of carriage. 150 kg? 300 kg?

• Anything more I should know and pay attention to fix it not to break it?

Well, I addressed many questions but will be thankful of any advices!


image: Bostonka.jpg


Log in to reply   7 replies so far

That’s a lot of money for a rusty pile of metal Alfer, considering you could buy a reconditioned Adana for a similar amount of money and it would be ready to print.

50-80 euros maximum - but remember you would still need new rollers and quite possibly other parts which may be unobtainable…

If 500 euros is your budget - find a better press to buy.

Not more than 100 euro for the machine. Baumeister is not the manufacturer of the press, but a trading company, specializing in printing equipment. You won’t often find a name of a manufacturer on the press. It looks like you’ve got everything there. Don’t change nuts or bolts, clean them by soaking them in a rust dissolvent liquid (Coca-Cola isn’t bad). Remove the paint with a wire brush and a scraper and 3M pads. It looks like the press can take 3 rollers. Looks much like the machine I’ve got myself. Check out the website of the Museum of Printing Arts in Leipzig:

and see the photo of my press that I paid 250 euro for.

image: German tabletop platen press.jpg

German tabletop platen press.jpg


It looks like the press might be a good deal more heavily built than a comperable Adana or Kelsey press, and actually has four form rollers which is quite unusual.

I’d be tempted to see if you could negotiate a lower price considering its condition, but I don’t see anything missing, just a lot of cleaning and “de-rusting”. If the press is large enough to do the type of work you want to produce, it should clean up to be a good press for you.

Well, the press seems to miss the ink reservoir behind the ink disk. It also seems to be a four roller press – where one of the rollers in the upper roller set fits the ink reservoir during the operation of the press. Without the ink reservoir you can only use two rollers at the time!!!
If you can take a look at it before purchasing, I will suggest you to control the condition of the bed, the platen and the main bearing.
I would say EUR 500 if the press was ready to print and EUR 100 to 150 as in current condition.
Gott grüß die Kunst

It’s hard to tell scale from the photos but I would guess that the chase is at least 6x9 and maybe 8x12 (inside dimensions). In that case, given that the press looks to be mostly complete and just dirty and rusty, I’d say somewhere between 100 and 500 Euros would be fair. But though you’ll have a fair amount of work cleaning it up, I suspect with new rollers and oil it would print in its current condition and do very good work. Check the in k disc for actual scratches of any significant depth — it should clean up OK with steel wool. This is a knock-off of the Golding Official, one of the best tabletop hand presses ever made, and I’d certainly go for it if the size is right and you can get the price down some.


The press does look like a restoration job, but certainly worth the effort. You would be able to run all four rollers on the press, which gives better coverage. I have seen machines such as this in better shape go for $500.00 and up.


Thank you for very helpful answers. I am not afraid of work related to state of this press. But it seems the price is too much so now I have to negotiate it with seller.

Probably he will not lower the price and in next few years the only thing he can do is to scrap this press :-( That’s a pity because this “rusty pile of metal” is yet a part of history of printing.