Would you buy this press as a beginner?

I put a “wanted” ad out, and a guy answered it saying his Dad had an old print shop and has an old press, he knows nothing about it - but the rollers are cracked. It’s a C & P. He also has a paper cutter. He wants 750 for both. The two look to be in really bad condition (maybe it’s just the photos and the lighting, but it doesn’t look great) - and like they need lots of repair. Also looks like it was painted? Maybe to cover rust. I think the Dad died, and they are clearing out the house.

Can some experts help me out? The press and cutter are in a small town about 2 hours away from where I live. The guy has told me that the garage needs to be cleaned out and the press needs to be gone (so I’m assuming if it’s not bought - its going to the scrap metal place) in the next week or 2.

Am I crazy or does it look like its in bad shape?

Log in to reply   17 replies so far


image: P1010168.JPG


image: P1010167.JPG


image: P1010165.JPG


image: P1010164.JPG


image: P1010158.JPG


image: P1010157.JPG


image: P1010156.JPG


Sounds like an excellent price. If there is any way to check these out in person to make sure the items aren’t broken then is should be a fairly easy purchase. You would need to recover the roller and do some major cleaning but the photos look okay. If this person can send better photos of the press that would help.


If that press were in my town, I’d buy it in a heartbeat….. BUT I would not recommend it for a true beginner with no experience or training. A press like that, and the cutter too, can take your fingers off in an instant. If you have no experience, you’d be far better off with a non-flywheel operated machine.

I am taking some lessons from someone on a similar press - but it is a motorized C & P.

I can’t see the motor on this one?

I agree with winking cat. It comes up here quite often where someone new wants to buy a floor model platen press because of the price.

My questions would be:

1. Do you feel comfortable working with something that can easily cut off or crush a finger or hand?

2. Can you move it to your shop or are you willing to pay someone to move it?

3. Are you mechanically inclined enough to repair the equipment if it breaks down?

From the pictures posted, I don’t see anything that screams “Don’t Buy Me!”. From the condition in the pictures, you’ll need to get the rollers recovered. Check the blade in the paper cutter, that might run you an additional $250 if you need a new one.

When I started in letterpress my first press was a C&P Craftsman 12x18, but for the past 20 years I’ve worked in machine shops with equipment that is large enough to kill, not just injure.

I certainly would recommend going for it. The press and cutter both look OK and just need a little cleaning. The cutter looks like a 19 inch capacity — a perfect size for a small shop (if I can buy a new blade for a 13” cutter for $75 I’m sure a blade for this one won’t cost more than $100 from Atlantic Knife). Be sure you remove the chase from the platen before trying to turn the flywheel! I like that the treadle is there — you can operate the press with it to get started and maybe for a very long time — I prefer treadle operation to motorized. Get some lessons from a printer who’s familiar with the C&P and do some printing — I doubt if you can get well established in letterpress for less!


No motor in the pictures, but there is a treadle.

You can put a motor on it using a flat belt on the pulley on the right side.

Even though you’re learning on a motorized press, I too would recommend starting with the treadle. The potential “big” expenses will be recovering the rollers and moving the equipment, and you can perhaps use these costs to help get the price even lower. Chances are the cutter just needs cleanup and the blade sharpened, maybe $25. Go for it!

Alright, I’m going to bargain prices, because moving it is going to cost a lot of money. I really wish this was pilot. Ugh. I’ll let you know if I end up getting it - if not, I’m going to tell him to post it on here!

The C&P is a much more capable press than the Pilot. This looks like a 8x12 OS to me. I have an almost identical press in the basement and love it. I prefer a treadle over a motor…much more controllable in real time. Better exercise, too. And you can go really slowly if you want. This is helpful when learning to feed paper into the press.

I teach students on a treadled 10x15. And scare them a bit about getting their hands out of the press as it begins to close. The biggest problem I’ve had so far is teaching them to only push down on the treadle when it is descending. They figure that out in a couple of hours.

The price is okay. BUT! If it was me, I would contact a sheet metal shop to make a cover for the gear that next your right arm. One wrong move and your arm will be in the gears.

And the cutter is great, but I had one of these, and the handle will come back and hit you in the head if NOT locked in place.

Letterpress can be fun, just do not jump into buy equipment because the price is right. The equipment and you have to right for each other.

Thanks Aaron David - i agree, and thats why I’m unsure if I want such a large press for my first press. I wanted a Pilot to start off with, because I think I would be more comfortable with it. I’m learning on a motorized C&P.

I’ve made a lowball offer on it, and we’ll see. I still may hold on for a more print-ready Pilot. I’m in no immediate rush to get a press.

Good call on the low ball offer but that price isn’t too bad, you’ll find out just how bad he wants rid of it.

Moving an 8x12 shouldn’t be a big deal if you have someone that has moved big things before. We just gave our automatic 10x15 C&P away to a group of artists last weekend after trying to sell it for a year and we had it out of the garage and in the back of a truck in about an hour.

I’ve used trailers before but the last two presses have moved with a rental truck with a 5000 pound lift gate on it, two pallet jacks, two 8 foot 4x4s cut up for blocks, a 4 ton manual come-along, lots of ratchet straps and long deck screws, and 3 friends :)

I’d jump at it. I would recover the rollers and get the blade sharpened and start printing. Pedal is easier than motor and safer. Just check for obvious problems. With the platen nearly closed try shaking the platen. I must not have a lot of play. Look for welds or repairs or flat cam followers. Moving is not as bad as a Heidelberg but get good help and be careful Cast iron is very brittle


i got my old-style, 10x15 C&P as a rank beginner this past spring. the guy i got it from delivered it (lovely!) and gave me lessons on it before leaving. it’s been a good starter press for me, though i have worked consciously to develop a habit to keep my hands out any time i have it in gear. i do like the treadle — it still prints with force, but it’s a more manageable speed, plus you get the exercise and really feel like you’ve done something.

mine came ready to print, and i wouldn’t have been able to rehab one that wasn’t, but i love it, and if you’re getting lessons on one already, this seems like a GREAT deal. i only wish mine had come with a paper cutter like that.


yes. unless there are any big issues (rust, cracks, non working etc) buy the press and the cutter. the price is very good and cleaning up the pieces will help you to become more familiar with each of them. in fact i recommend everyone who starts out should restore or clean up their first press.

look around online for recommendations on moving the press or hire someone to do so. you’ll find a lot of useful info out there.

don’t be scared of this press. the “safety” issues that have been posted are WAY on the side of caution. when on press you should be moving with a rhythmic precision and will be absolutely fine. moving it will help you gain instant respect for it and cleaning it will familiarize you with it.

good luck and enjoy yourself.