Some years ago I recall seeing a brief article about the letterpress print shop aboard the Atlantic passenger liner SS UNITED STATES. I seem to recall that there was a journeyman printer in charge of the shop and an often changing bunch of about college age assistants, These gofers, apprentices and devils were paid very little. Apparently the steamship company thought room and board and the experience was adequate compensation. The shop worked at night and the printers slept during the day.
Was the story of this shop ever written and printed in good detail? Does anyone know more? I think there is a wonderful story that we would all like to know if someone can write it.


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There were, I think you’ll find, print shops on many passenger ships - for menus, passenger lists, notices of various sorts. The ships I travelled on in the 1950’s and 1960’s certainly had new menus printed by letterpress each day - but I was too young to appreciate how this was achieved,.

The owner of the Piccolo press in Scotland served in the British Navy and on board of one of the submarines that had a print shop. After he retired from the Navy, he set up a printing business and has got the British Royal Family as customers. Check out his website. Very good stuff.

My father served aboard an aircraft carrier while in the US Navy and worked in the print shop. When his enlistment was up, the time he served counted towards his appretice time
in the union.

Someone told me that linotype made a smaller machine that was used in print shops on navy ships. Dick G.



I saw one of those machines in a printshop in Milford, CT about the year 1980, when the printer was selling some hand-set ornaments. It was about half the height of a normal Linotype machine so that the second elevator could clear the overhead. I could not tell you the model number of the machine or the location of the shop, today, though.
Dave Greer

I think it was called a “junior Linotype” or a #15

The Junior Linotype was quite distinct from “regular” Linotypes. It resembled in many ways the earlier “Rogers Typograph” (no relation to the Ludlow Typograph), although I’m not sure that Linotype ever admitted this resemblance.

The Model 10 and its successor the Model 15 were more regular Linotypes differing primarily in their height (shorter). Thompson, in The Mechanism of the Linotype, describes them “as Model 1 simplified.”

I’ll try to attach two images, one of a Junior Linotype (taken from a 1902 number of The Inland Printer) and another of a Linotype Model 10 or 15 (taken from Thompson). I’m not sure if the BriarPress upload is working, though, so here are links to a version on our website:

(These are slightly higher-res than the versions which may or may not have uploaded to this BriarPress thread.)

I have also heard that the Linotype Models 10 and 15 were used on ships, but I have no contemporary data yet to confirm this.

David M. MacMillan

image: linotype-model-10-15-thompson-smallpic.jpg


image: linotype-junior-1902-smallpic.jpg


I was on the USS Hancock as a lithographers mate during Viet Nam…We has a large C&P letterpress and a full cabinet of hand set type..We also has two AB Dick offset presses…Im still printing to this day!!!! LI-3 Randy Summy
USS Hancock CVA-19 Attack Air Craft Carrier…

to all who may know: I am searching for as much info as i can on that particular print shop.. The SS United States, as my Grandfather was the linotype operator on that vessel from 52-64ish. If anyone knows of articles (as Inky stated to being in existence) or anything pertaining to that office. i would greatly appreciate the help. I never knew or met my grandfather as he died in 64 basicaly right off the boat. they took from ship to hospitol were he stayed until his unfortunate death…. so i am trying to build a backstory on the man i never knew. please send any and all info about the print shop to me. I thank all in advance for their time in helping me.


I found this discussion after googling SS United States Ocean Liner PrintShop. The reason is because I have bought a couple sets of letterpress quoins from a gentlemen stating these are from the very same ocean liner.

I figure you might be interested.

image: ss printshop.jpg

ss printshop.jpg