Unknown Press

Letterpress knowledge needed…

Can anyone identify this below press?
I believe the branding must have been on the front end of pedal, which is long gone, as there isn’t any markings anywhere else.

Searched the web and letterpress books - and while finding similar presses I can’t seem to find one which is exactly the same.

Would be good to know what sort of press it is so I can tackle a few issues I have come across.

Thanks, Erin

image: letterpress1.jpeg


image: letterpress2.jpeg


Log in to reply   10 replies so far

I’m no expert, but possibly a Golding of some kind? Note that it should have three inking rollers on it.


My first idea was that it is based on the Golding Pearl mechanism, and was probably made in France or Germany. It’s a little difficult to guess not knowing where it is now. Are there any places, such as the upper edge of the platen support (where Golding put the Pearl plate), where there is evidence that there was a plate attached at one time (screw holes, etc)? Also hard to tell what size chase it uses — 9x13?


Hi Bob and Rick,

Thanks for your help.

Bob I am based in Sydney and picked it up a couple months ago from Melbourne, Australia. The previous owner tells me it was sold with a print shop he bought 20 years ago in Melbourne.
I have posted another image of the upper edge of the platen support and as you can see there are two holes. As for the chase size, not sure whether I should be measuring the outer or the inner. The outer edge measures 9.5x12.5 and the inner 7.5 (ever so slightly over) x11. Which measurement is correct?

Going by your comments it is sounding like a Golding Pearl isn’t it? A quick look on Google and one difference is my solid wheel. The other Goldings don’t seem to have this.

Rick, yes it only had two rollers when I got it. It is inking evenly so didn’t see the need in getting another. Do you suggest a third will make a difference?

Thanks guys, Erin

image: chase size

chase size

image: top of platen support

top of platen support


As a Golding enthusiast I can assure you this is not a Golding press. Sorry I cannot tell you what it is, only what it isn’t.


Erin -

I got your message to my web site and followed the link you sent me to come look at your press.

First of all, it looks really nice.

And, while I agree that it does have some Golding characteristics, I also agree with John Falstrom that it is not a Golding.

The fact that it was found in Australia suggests that it is indeed from Europe - possibly even Asia - but I lean towards Europe - just considering the trade routes and sources of equipment readily available to Australian Printers 50-100 years ago. Most of the Asian presses I have seen are copies of European or American designs, anyway.

Since the inner dimension of the chase is actually 11”, that might be used as one dimension of the “size”. But if we assume that this press has European origins, I would not guess at the other dimension. Our (American) chase sizes were based upon common paper sizes the printers would be printing - and they varied quite a bit over time as well.

The common chase sizes we generally recognize are the ones used in the later models of the presses more common in America after 1920 - Golding, Kelsey, Chandler & Price. And this press was not made by any of these companies.

http://excelsiorpress.org/photos/Petros/index.html shows a press that was found in Greece. It also has an appox. 11” wide chase and was identified as the European “A4” size.

And, btw… We found one that *looked* like this press found in Greece from a web site in Australia… I’d suggest you visit http://letterpressprinting.com.au/page83.htm and see if you can enlist their help for more localized information.

Think about how the press first got to Australia and you might be able to figure out where it came from - and when.

Also keep in mind that there was a time - from say 1870-1920 when the world was filled with companies making platen presses. There was a LOT of competition. But, by the end of that era, many of those companies had gone on to making other things - or were simply gone or absorbed by ATF, Kelsey or some other larger company. This press could well fit into that group.

The roller assembly is “Pearl-ish”, but only because of the hooks. But lots of smaller (especially economically designed) presses used hooks like that, so it’s not a good indication of the manufacturer. The platen impression mechanism seems to be following the Golding design as well, but that was also used by Victor (on some models) and Heidelberg on their Windmills.

The impression throw-off lever is the most unique feature as I see it. I don’t know any press other than the Colt (& Heidelberg) which had such a low lever and connected through the center like this one.

The plate on the top - above the ink disk - was for mounting a full-fountain for consistent inking on longer runs. It’s a shame that it’s not there now. But one could be made, based upon designs used on other older presses.

But. All in all, it looks like a pretty neat old platen press, and any issues you come up with can be resolved by stepping back from the maker and look at how it was made. I’m 99% certain that you won’t find any parts anywhere, but most of us who are working with old and obscure presses these days, simply make up the parts we need.

So. Aside from ink rollers, what other issues have you encountered that are holding you back from printing with it?

Oh - and two rollers is no problem. Most printers with 3-roller presses only mount 2 for most jobs. Add a third if you need more coverage. Otherwise, two will do fine.

But do continue in your quest to learn more about your mystery press. When you do find out who made this press - or any related info - let us know. Maybe the next time one of these shows up it will be “Like Erin’s Press in Australia” ..

And, if you do encounter any problems printing with it, contact me directly or come on back here for help. There’s a lot of help available on Briar Press - a growing community of new printers with questions and both new and old printers with answers…

- Alan
- (one of the old printers…- but not as old as DickG!)

Alan - wow to all that information. Definitely years of knowledge. Thanks for sharing!

So it seems I have a bit more searching to do. Yes I will get in touch with Letterpress Printing. Perhaps they can shed some light. My platen is exactly A4, as is the exact middle of the chase frame.

Actually no issues with printing. It has been doing great prints for me. It amazes me how smooth all the parts move. Music to my ears!

Besides pure curiosity as to where she came from and when… I am wanting to get a boxcar base and knowing my press would make ordering a little easier. And so thought a good time to raise the question.

For now she can be Erin’s platen. And I will let you know once her true name comes to light!

Thanks again Alan, Erin

Alan - wondered if you had any contact details for those at Letterpress Printing? Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any email or phone listed on their website or the web.
Best, Erin

Erin - Sad to say, but Michael Elliget - who created http://letterpressprinting.com.au - is no longer with us, having passed away in June of 2009.

The contact email for the domain is [email protected] - but that’s not a printer, just the support rep for the registrar. They may have some contact information for you about the web site, but my guess is that the current manager of the site is not a printer, simply someone who maintains the site so that we can benefit from Michael’s past efforts. (I hope that someone does that for ExcelsiorPress.org when I’m gone…)

What we can do, however, is post a page full of photos of your press here or on my site and just leave it out there on the web until someone stumbles upon it some day and has some information to share. There are lots of us who are curious about odd presses and some day, someone who recognizes it may have some information for us.

- Alan

Erin - one more thing. As I look at your press, it seems odd that the treadle ends as it does. Since most treadles are wider at the foot-end, I suspect you are missing a cross-piece to place your foot on. As anyone who has “kicked” a treadle press for a while knows, it’s common to switch feet during a longer run. A wider piece at the end where you place your foot might make kicking this press easier.

I’m sure the pedal is missing from the treadle — the question is, what form did it take. Many similar presses had the maker’s name or model in raised letters on the treadle, so maybe someone took it as a souvenir.

I am a little surprised Erik Desmyter hasn’t chimed in on this mystery. He’s very knowledgeable about European-made platen presses, which this looks like to me. You could try emailing him with a query about it (I believe he’s listed here). I would say it’s either European or Japanese, but I’m convinced it’s the former.

And as to a Boxcar base, call it a 7x11 (the inside measure of the chase) and that size, being a standard Pearl size, should be readily available. Just don’t plan to print the entire area of the base in one hit!