F. Wesel Galley proof Press

I’m trying to find out more information about a press that I just acquired. The only ID I have is the casting says ‘F. Wesel New York’ . I’ve seen info on the Wesel electric proof press but can’t find anything on this model. I’ve included a picture (the press is in the foreground), thanks in advance for any info anyone can provide!

image: pearl3a.jpg


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a lot of different companies made this style press, i used one to proof gallies of linotype at my first job running linotypes, that cylinder sure is heavy, the one we had had a cover on the cylinder that was a felt of some kind.

I believe I read somewhere that some of these were branded with advertising and given to newspapers?

Good to ‘see’ you again Dick! Yes, this one has a felt blanket with some packing, the cylinder is probably 40-50 pounds. It’s a pretty utilitarian press, came as a bonus along with the Pearl in the background when I purchased some wood type and a Kelsey 3x5 from an older gentleman in Northampton. I’ll probably clean her up and put her to work when I have a little more free time this winter, I was just hoping to get a little history on her here on Briar Press. Speaking of history, John Falstrom just informed me that the Pearl in the above photo was part of a batch completed on March 19, 1884 - very cool!

i thought you were downsizing a little, pearls, proof presses, kelseys, what’s next, maybe a ludlow or linotype??? if i were you i’d put a thin rubber blanket on that cylinder, my poco has a blanket on it for a top sheet, i put the thing on it back in 1966, it came from the same shop that had the proof press like yours, i was always afraid that cylinder was going to fall off and crash on the floor. i still have the 3x5 kelsey my grandfather bought me for my 13th birthday back in 1961, also this year i found 2 more 3x5 kelseys that were discarded in i pile of junk, boy they are rusted solid but i’ve almost got them to open and close. there seems to be a lot of letterpress junk around lately. i still have to see a guy here in town that has a large table top press under a tarp in his back yard, and a possible linotype a couple of towns away. good to see you posting, i thought you might have made your fortune and moved on.

I’ve seen felt used on these, but I suspect thick dense canvas may have been the original covering. Must position the seam outside the printing area each time.
The “Miles Nervine” presses were the ones given out in exchange for advertising. They are marked as such at each end of the bed. I think they were made by someone other than Wesel.

You will also commonly find these with “Challenge” stamped on the ends. There were two different Miles presses, depending on what ‘medicine’ was advertised on the end.


Galley proof presses were available from almost every equipment supplier doing business over a century ago. The simple machine was first perfected by Stephen Tucker at R. Hoe in New York in the early 1840s. The most common ones found today were made by the Challenge company in the 1890s and into the last century, by Chandler and Price (which usually was sold as a cabinet model, and of course by the R. Hoe company. From what I have been able to discern the Miles Nervine galley presses were made by Schneidewend & Lee in Chicago in the late 1880s before the split that created the Challenge company. They were given in trade for advertising in country news weeklies or as a premium for considerations by Dr, Franklin Miles of Elkhart, Indiana. They have cast in the ends of of the bed “Miles’ Nervine” on one end, and “Miles’ Heart Cure” or “Miles’ Pain Pills” on the other. I have heard that they continued to be given away in the 1930s. They were originally covered with a dense industrial felt 1/8” thick, and would accomodate type and a galley. The company exists today as Miles Laboratories, and some familiar products produced since are Bayer Aspirin (it is actually owned by Bayer), Alka Seltzer, and Flintstones vitamins. F. Wesel (pronounced ‘weasel’ in the trade) presses are a little more uncommon, but if properly set up will function well as a simple proofing press.


Dick - I was/am trying to downsize, but when someone offers me a Pearl for free how can I turn it down? the proof press is pretty small so I can squeeze it in most anywhere - besides, Karen likes the looks of the Pearl so much it’ll probably end up in our living room after I clean it up! Sounds like you’re not quite busting at the seams - at least until you move in the tabletop and linotype?
Thanks everyone for your info, I guess we’ll never know the age and history of this proof press but it will always have a place in my shop.
By the way Dick - you and I both know that there’s no fortune to be made in letterpress, unless I sell all of my typecases as jewelry holders and put all of my wood type on Ebay one letter at a time!

According to my sources it would be incorrect to say that there is a Miles Nervine press. The press with the Miles • Nervine names on it, is referring to Dr Franklin Miles and the product “Nervine”, hence the ornament between the two names. The press this appears on was manufactured by R. Hoe. As a side note, there are related posts referring to a similar but older proof press (circa 1850) that was also manufactured by R. Hoe and not Challenge or “Miles Nervine”. http://www.printmuseum.org/museum/collection/

The product was sold as Miles’ Nervine. The ‘ornament’ you refer to is an apostrophe. There is no indication on the presses that they were manufactured by R. Hoe & Company, indeed they were probably made by Schneidewend & Lee in Chicago. They were located much closer to Miles Laboratory in Elkhart, Indiana. The cylinder and body style are much closer to the “Challenge” brand that S&L sold during that period than what R. Hoe sold. Where the Hoe reference was picked up is due to a poorly worded sentence in an article which, when read thoroughly only says that Hoe originated that style of press in the 1850s.

I have a lot of respect for Mark and what he does, but he isn’t always right, and what he has been told by older printers can suffer from lack of proper research. This is where the error arises. On page 79 of the book The Heritage of the Printer, by Dr. James Eckman, after a simple description of a galley proofing press reads: “Tucker took this idea back to Hoe, and that firm made many hundreds of simple galley-proof presses built on this arrangement. One of them [note it doesn’t say one made by Hoe], made for the Dr. Miles patent-medicine firm of Elkhart, Indiana, for many years was given by that firm to country publishers in exchange for advertising space for Dr. Miles’ remedies.”

Every company that manufactured presses made their own version of the galley proofing press, it was not a technology that was exclusive to R. Hoe & Company. I used to own a Challenge proofing press, and when I acquired the the Miles’ Nervine press I currently have, I noticed there were a lot of similarities to not only to how the cylinder operated on the machine, but the cylinder rests and the rounded nature of the ears, which you can see in the image you sent me. Plus, they cast the Challenge name into the end in a manner identical to the Miles’ Nervine, with a lettering that is nearly identical. Schneidewend & Lee was in full operation by this time, and located only 112 miles from Elkhart. Why in the world would Dr. Miles purchase a machine to give away for advertising if he had to ship it halfway across across the country, thus adding to the initial cost of each machine? Common sense dictates that a quality product from a known company in the area; a company that could produce them as he needed them would suffice. I don’t know of any instance of Hoe producing a product to which they did not attach their name, that is not how they did business.

There are a lot of historical errors that are caused by not questioning the veracity of the original argument, by not using common sense, and assuming everything you read is correct. This would be one of those instances.


Is there a special chase used for these presses? Where might one find the equipment to lock type in. I have a magnetic poster press but it’s in storage and I’m assuming this isn’t set up to receive that type of type, so to speak.

Is there a special chase used for these presses? Where might one find the equipment to lock type in. I have a magnetic poster press but it’s in storage and I’m assuming this isn’t set up to receive that type of type, so to speak.

These are galley proofing presses. Type on a galley, Bob’s your uncle. (Or any chase over a .050” bed plate.)

I no longer have this press, but when I used it I would have the type on a galley held with magnets.