Age and History of My Press

I was very fortunate to have been gifted a Challenge-Gordon 8 x 12 curved spoke treadle press. I would like to find the date of manufacture and the original owner of this very nice press. Latest date on the main gear are Oct. 15, 1907 and the serial number is 8855. The brass plate behind the platen reads: Manuf’d by the Challenge Machinery Co. Grandhaven Mich. and Chicago Ill. USA for the WesternNewspaperUnion. The person that gifted the press to my benefactor claimed that the press was at Ft. Meyers. Was this the property of the US gov’t? How can I get information on this press? My thanks to you, Briar Press and Mr. William “Bill” Nail of Printer’s Equipment for his fine gift to me and my family.

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somewhere on line is lists of serial numbers for different presses. Check out the Excelsior Press website, Alan has lots of info on his site.

Hi Warren,

Determining the exact year of manufacture of a Challenge Gordon by serial number is not that easy. Apparently there is no documentation, and I’ve searched for years.
Conversely, Chandler and Price does have documentation necessary to determine exact year of manufacture.
The Challenge Gordon style presses were built from 1884 to 1910.

My 8 x 12 Challenge Gordon is a Chicago built machine with the last patent date on the gear Aug 17, ‘97…and serial # 3903.
Here is a photo of my nameplate:
I typically say concerning it’s year…c.1900 or ‘turn of the century’…not being absolutely sure, but it could not have been built after 1903.

The Challenge Machinery Co. moved across Lake Michigan to Grand Haven, MI in 1903 and built these presses until 1910.
The company was founded in Chicago under the name of Shniedewend & Lee.
They are still in business building paper cutters, drills and other things. Here is a link to their history timeline from their website:

Here is more info on the Gordon style press in general which includes the reference to the date I quoted concerning the last known date of the manufacture of the Challenge press:

I would guess that your press was probably built in either 1908, 1909 or 1910. It is a later build. I have no idea how many are in existence, but there are others who have posted here, that I know own and use them. Judging by your serial #, I would guess that there were around 10,000 made.
They also built a 10x15, (and other larger sizes) and my guess is they had a different serial # series.

They are similar to a C&P, but there are distinct differences, the main difference offhand is the impression lever is the reverse of a C&P. On the Challenge, “on impression” is forward, away from the operator, and the C&P is the reverse.

You can use rollers that are intended for use with a Chandler and Price 8 x 12.

Also, the press is mentioned in James Moran’s “Printing Presses: History and Development from the Fifteenth Century to Modern Times”…and there is an illustration of the Challenge there. (the impression lever is of a different design than mine, and I suspect it is a 10x15).
If you can get a hard copy of this book, you will have a pretty nice reproducible image.

I have used the word “guess” a lot and it’s the best one can do.
You can also use the search function on this forum for additional info and photos.
Hope this helps.


[edit] Corrected typos erroneously referring to an “8 x 10”. Duh.

My 8x12 is #8757 and has the last patent year as 1907 - so, like mine, yours is probably made between 1907 and 1910 when they went out of production. Of note, the throw off is just like the CP 8x12 I have - toward you to print, away from you to throw off!


Interesting to know that your throw off lever is the same as a C&P. Mine is absolutely, positively the opposite.


Dave and Duffmo, thank you so much for your responce. I have noticed that the impression is; pull toward you to print and push away to disengage. It seems to be similar to the two C&Ps my family had in out basement print shop. (we also had a Kelly “B”, a multi and a Chief 20). By the way Dave, that name plate really looks great! Later this week comming up, I will be taking posession of a Challenge hand cutter with a manufacture date of 1911. When I get things set up I will post some pictures.

Forgot to thank Dick as well; thanks guys for the links!

The press shown in the pic of the following thread is a Challenge having the same throw off lever mechanism that mine has. The position shown would be “off impression”.

It may be a different mechanism than others, if they operate like a C&P.

I used the search and apologize to Warren, as there is not as much info as I thought. You have to kind of sift through a lot of threads…with bits and pieces of info here and there.

It would be interesting to see a pic of a throw off lever on a Challenge that operates like a C&P.

[edit] This is a pic of mine that better shows how the lever is attached. It is “on impression” in this view.


image: P5310160.JPG


Dave, you can see the long arm here as well as the elbow linkage on the throw-off (set on impression). The treadle is a from a CP old-style, but it doesn’t fit. The rod it would hang from is 1 3/16 in diameter, but the CP is drilled out only 3/4”. I am going to order the treadle for the 10x15 NS and that should do the trick!

image: securedownload[2].jpg


Yes, I see the difference. When the change was made is a matter of speculation. After the 1903 move? Perhaps.

Warren, I’ll be looking forward to an update and pics in the future. Sounds like you’ve got a neat old press there.


Hey Dave and Duffmo, I have uploaded three photos of the working mechanism for the impression trip. The first one shows how the lever is attached to the press. The second shows the linkage that pull the bed closer to the platen and the last shows the linkage to the bed assembly. From the photograph that Duffmo posted, it seems that my press is identical to his. Thanks guys.

I’ve tried to attach an image but, I’m not sure if it took.

It may be that your image is too large or it has unacceptable characters in the title. It can’t have characters like %, &, *…etc.
I typically reduce my image size to 450 x 600 pixels with a photo imaging program…and re-save.
Try that. Good luck!


Thanks Dave, I think I’ve got it now.

image: Challenge Gordon.JPG

Challenge Gordon.JPG

As promissed, a picture of the Challenge cutter to match that great old Challenge-Gordon press. Serial #18899. I do wonder how old this heavy chunk of steel is!!

image: Challenge cutter 001 - Copy.JPG

Challenge cutter 001 - Copy.JPG

Looking good there Warren.
Wish I had a treadle machine, but alas, mine has a straight shaft so I have to run it with a belt on the flywheel.
Nice old cutter, presumably a 19”?

I don’t know when the cutter was manufactured. the patent registered date is July 23, 1889. the patent date is July 7, 1903. On the same line as the serial number, is the number “19” with a space for more numbers but, it is blank. I could not have wished for a more “matched set” than these two beauties. Made by the Challenge company and within the same time frame. Really cool.

Ditto on the Really Cool! Have fun.


Curious to know if the 10x15 C&P NS treadle worked out for you?

I’m surprised you mentioned the NS treadle… I did a little photo research (which may be completely wrong), but the C&P OldStyle treadle looks so much more like the original Challenge-Gordon treadle. Is it really a matter of fit over finish with the NS treadle?

I’m in a situation where there’s an opportunity to acquire a Challenge-Gordon, but the likelihood of finding parts is so scarce that I’m questioning holding out for a C&P. A C&P treadle working on a C-G would go a long way to help me make a decision. So, very curious how it went!


image: treadlecomparison.png


@ jtwoodru

So - it is indeed the 10x15 NS that I got because it fits! The rod from which the treadle hangs on the Challenge Gordon is the same diameter. Unfortunately, even if I used an OS 8x12, it would require enlarging the holes and a partial disassemble to slide the rod through the treadle holes. As much as I would love to have an original or copy, I haven’t been able to find one, so it is a matter of function over form. All I had to do with the 10x15 NS treadle was hang it from the rod, drop in two retaining bolts to keep it on and file down the “J” hook a bit. Hern Iron works sent 2 hooks with the treadle. They were very nice to deal with.

Thanks duffmo!

That clears things up for me! I just wanted to be certain that I understood correctly.

So how are you liking the NS treadle? Work pretty well?

You had mentioned Ft. Myers, do mean Ft. Myers Fla.?
I have a Jones Press and I’m not too far from Ft. Myers.