Mystery desktop platen - Heidelberg?

Hi all,

I have stumbled upon an unusual press. It is a cast iron table top lever operated platen. Chase size is just bigger than an Adana 8x5. It has an oval base and a stirrup on the lever. The chases have triangular key wedges on the sides that lock them in place. The mass is around 50kg. The rollers have plastic trucks that cover the shaft ends to form bearings that the spring hooks go over. It has a diamond shape hole in the arm that connects to the back on the right side that is only for ornamentation.

The paper finger bits are incomplete and probably had a spring connecting to the screw eye on the left side of the base.

There are a bunch of pictures on the flicker page
cell phone camera quality is disappointing.

I was told it was a Heidelberg but the name plate is missing, I know another person who has a similar smaller table top press (ill try and get some pictures of it from him one day), he believes his is a Heidelberg but I have been unable to unearth any information about such presses.

Any clues welcome. It is not in the J. Morran book or in the Briar Press museum and web searching has found nothing so far.


Idyllic Press - Johannesburg, South Africa

image: Mystery Press 2.jpg

Mystery Press 2.jpg

Log in to reply   12 replies so far

This press, with a round base, is a Golding, or possibly an early Sigwalt.
Square-base machines like this were Sigwalts. There are folks out there that can help you better with the dates of manufacture, etc. I don’t know of Heidelberg ever making a tabletop press!

Ahoy there from SA!

Your friend is kidding himself; there is no such thing as a table-top Heidelberg - unless you have a table that can hold 1+ ton…

Franschhoek, Cape, South Africa

Hi Kalle,

I believe this is a Sigwalt Nonpareil No. 24. It has Sigwalt type roller hook springs, not Golding type and the Golding name was cast into their presses and easily readable. Early Sigwalt’s had round bases and were pretty much copies of the Golding Officials but didn’t have identifying markings in the castings. Others like Paul A. can confirm.

Hi again,

I keep looking at your press and it doesn’t look right for a Sigwalt either. The base appears to be oval, and the castings don’t look quite right. I am going to retract my guess and wait for others with more expertise. It may be a European manufacture that also copied Golding. I have seen reference to a press like Heidelberg that I cannot remember the spelling. Something like Heidsieck? Could this be what you meant instead of Heidelberg?

I agree — this is not a Sigwalt Nonpareil. The platen mounting is more like an imitation of Golding’s method; Sigwalt used a different system. Also the roller hooks are different from Sigwalt’s, though the spring system is the same. Maybe the press maker copied aspects of both. There were several other imitators of the Golding so a further search may turn up the manufacturer.


Have a look here, Jens’s photos on Flickr.

As far as I know, heidelberg never built small presses. But many German companies like Hogenforst and Heidsieck etc. built tabletop presses. The chance is that the press made it’s way from Germany to South Africa, where Germany had a protectorate and where many Germans settled.


Your press has a lot in common with presses manufactured by Rich. Otto Krüger, Berlin - but it isn’t 100% identical with the Krüger presses I have seen.
On the plus side: The Krüger press has an oval base and a “diamond” on the arm connecting the platen and the roller arms. The handle also looks identical.
On the minus side: The ink dish lever is placed on the right side of the press on the Krüger and then the Krüger has some very characteristic rails. The is also something with the platen - the ribs etc.
But there could be several models of Krüger presses and variations in the casting during the period they manufactured table tops.

By the way, Heidelberg didn’t manufactured tabel tops!

Gott grüß die Kunst

Hi All,

Thanks for the speedy input. So far the consensus seems to be that it is a derivative of a Golding perhaps via a Sigwalt though some european options are intriguing. The trail of a Heidelberg desktop platen seems to have gone cold.

The base is definitely oval, and the roller hooks are closed on the left.

I figure it would be dated anytime after 1907, the invention of Bakelite or similar used on the trucks.

The variety of table top platens is great and one needs to have investigated the differences in them to be able to spot them, they still all look alike to me, the base and stirrup are the most obvious differences I can spot.

Thanks for your ideas and time.


Bakelite on the trucks? Bakelite is very brittle.


Looked like Bakelite at first glance, I will do a melt and burn test on a sample one day if I feel ambitious, with fillers it is very durable, billiard balls and electric motor insulation and early circuit boards were made of Bakelite.

It was just an observation to guess at the earliest design date based on materials used, it only works in the early years as there are so many plastics now it is impossible to distinguish them easily.

Here is a time line of some engineering materials that could be used for dating:-)

Wood = Antiquity
Stone, Bone, Ivory = 15000 BC
Copper = 5300 BC
Bronze, wrought Iron = 3000 BC
Cast Iron = (developed 550 BC) c1700
Rubber = (european discovery 1751) 1770
>Sulphur Vulcanised Rubber = 1839
Steel = (developed 1000 BC) 1850
>Celluloid = (invented 1862) 1870
>Bakelite = (invented 1907) 1912
>Nylon = (invented 1927) 1939
Synthetic Rubber = (invented 1910) 1941
Silicone Elastomer = 1943
Polyurethane Elastomer = (developments 1937) 1952

The dates for vulcanised rubber, Celluloid, Bakelite and Nylon are possibly of interest to early press collectors.


Idyllic Press - Johannesburg, South Africa


Micarta was used for some roller trucks (I seem to recall for Kluge) at some point in time and was basically a substance developed by the inventor of bakelite, but involved imbedding fibers and strenghening agents in the material before molding or forming process. It was a GE material, I believe.

Does Micarta ring a bell for anyone else in connection with roller trucks?

John Henry

Found a blog post with one of the Rich. Otto Krüger presses dissasembled.

The parts all look very familiar and te base and gripper pivot holes and the ink disk pedestal and the roller hooks and the diamond (no hole though) shape in the connecting rod all look very much like the real deal.

His still has the brass name plate.