TRUE C&P Values?

I have viewed Briar Press off and on a few years and just recently signed up as a member.
I have been learning about letterpress a few years and have recently been in the market for one.
I have missed a few reasonably priced presses within reasonable driving distance from me lately.
I posted a want ad on the nearest large craigslist site to me (Wilmington NC). I received one response from “a dealer” in Georgia. I have pasted our conversation, seen below.
I feel I know the fair price for a C&P, however, I have been wrong about things in the past, so I wanted to ask here what a 2014 price for a C&P 10x15 or 8x12 motorized is. Is he right and I am wrong? Thanks in advance for your advice and input.

Initial reply to my craigslist ad:
1. we sell c&p presses serviced and ready to print
delivery available

2. Yes, I have seen your many ads. I am looking for a fair price only, as ad stated. Thank you for your response.

3. well, our machines are ready to print with new rollers, treadles, etc and they are priced fairly considering the hours and hours of labor hauling, etc …. in short, they are ready to make money!
if you buy some junk machine, i’ll be happy to supply rollers, etc at a fair price as well
by the way, what is a FAIR PRICE to you for an old style 8x12 c&p ready to print?

4. No worries, I won’t buy a junk machine.
See the multitude of Briar Press ads for C&Ps, unfortunately not near me, that are FAIRLY priced. I’ll happily get new rollers - just because a press might have bad rollers, certainly doesn’t make it “junk”. lol
Also any on ebay never bring nearly what you are asking - Again, they all seem to be in the northern states.
I didn’t specifically mention an old style - old or new are one in the same to me. Im not interested in a treadle.
No chandler and price press is worth 3500.
I have been looking for quite some time, I have seen a few within a few hours, but they are always sold quickly. I will probably have to bite the bullet and make the drive up north, where they’re much more plentiful.
No need for a back and forth - that will be all.

5. ACTUALLY they ARE worth near $3500 …. i’ve sold about 40 presses from $2400 to $3300 over the last 3 or 4 years …. prices are going up STILL and there are fewer presses to be bought
i buy most of the c&p presses in the southeast that are cheap enough for me to transport and make $$ on
there are a lot of presses in the NE and upper midwest and it costs a lot to transport them
i advise you NOT to try to ship any machines because that’s a sure recipe for a broken main shaft
we always REMOVE crank and flywheel before any shipping thus we move them intact
i’ll sell you a 10x15 new style that needs rollers and cleanup for $2400 and will load it into your truck for free here in athens, ga
if your time and fuel are all free, i’m sure you can find a bargain press 1000 miles away!
good luck

Log in to reply   27 replies so far

I think that Rick trades fairly. He puts the time and effort into renovating the presses he sells. He’s there for the duration, not fly-by-night. He will still be there after you buy a press from him. I find his position reasonable in your exchange. He is adding value and there is a price associated with that. If you are not willing to pay fair market for that value, then look elsewhere. Caveat emptor.

Yes, if you are patient, you may find something that costs less, maybe around the corner from you, maybe in ready-to-roll condition… maybe.

I’ve never seen prices that high, EVER!! A way to be sure your not getting a junk press. (You can a Heidelberg Windmill for $2500, to $4500.) With, most everyone doing this “deep impressions” thing. That can certainly play heck on old metal and something that wasn’t made to do that. YES! you can get reasonably priced machines in working order. I’ve moved presses and as long as you secure them for travel and use or install 4x4 wood runners to move it with and not bind against the press, I can’t see any risk in bending anything. I’ve moved Windmills, Verticals and offset presses. I wouldn’t pay that, then again, I know what to look for and where.

If you buy a press that is ready to go, and all you have to do is set it up, it worth a lot.

Unless you have spare time and can do repair work yourself, a fixer up press is the cheaper.

As a person that spend more time repairing my equipment and all my extra money, I wish I had equipment ready to work on delivery day.

If you find a press that is ready to print, and the seller stands behind it and will help you set it up or learn more about it, it worth the money.

I have seen multitudes of ready to go presses for <$2,000. I am not too sure what he could do by standing behind a press being 7 hours away. I feel like I am imagining things.

In my experience those prices seem extremely high, I have seen those fair share of ads on craigslist and the back button on my browser gets clicked pretty quickly.

I would never pay more than $500.00 for a C&P (8x12, 10x15 or 12x18) in great condition with a working motor, I might be willing to go up to $700.00 if it had good rollers, but if you send the cores to Ramco Roller in CA it won’t set you back too much to get them recovered.

I paid $600.00 for my 10x15 Heidelberg Windmill red ball and it just needed a good cleaning. These prices are just what I have paid since 2012, so I don’t imagine the prices have gone up too much since then. These have also all been within 4 hours from my house. I guess I may just be “lucky” but I do put a fair amount of time into digging for these presses, gathering leads and so on.

On the flip side I understand he probably wants to make a profit and put a value on his time getting these in running “ready to print” condition but even still it seems a little extreme, but people are willing to pay good money if it’s convenient.

I bought a 8x12 old style with a good motor and good rollers for $500.00 last year in St. Louis and sold it for $1,600.00 and I honestly was shocked someone was willing to pay that.

The equipment is out there and there are still people willing to let it go for next to nothing, often times they are happy to get rid of it because it clears a lot of floor space in their shops. I would say just be patient and a press will find ya. Hope this helps.

‘Whatever the traffic will bear’ seems apt for any sale/buy transaction. Such is the basis for free enterprise. Those willing to pay $1000 plus for a 3x5 Kelsey or $50,000 for a Miehle Pony fall, in my opinion, in that class representing the adage: “A fool and his money….” Still, it is their choice.
I note similarity with the the once-affordable antique auto hobby. Now, even the humble Model T commands price once reserved for Fred and Augie’s master of the roadway.. Such is the way of the world. There is a huge chasm between value and money. Far too many people fail to understand that fact. And there are always the PT Barnums waiting in the boneyards. :o)

For that $3500, you’d be paying paying to have a press right now, that works, with no risk, no surprises, no worn out pieces or hidden cracks, and no missing pieces.

For those that have the money and want to get into Letterpress the quick and easy way, or that have no experience (or no interest) in fixing old machines, then the $3500 press is probably a good option.

dfrank, it costs somewhere near double to pay someone to build a house for you, versus building it yourself. If others are willing to pay to not have the inconvenience, then I don’t see the harm in someone filling the need.

From what I’ve seen, an average price for an 8x12 or 10x15 C&P is around $500 - $1200. I got mine 2 years ago, in working order for $200, it just needed new rollers. You just need to be patient and keep your eyes open…and keep searching craigslist. C&Ps are one of the most common presses out there and not that difficult to find.

On the other hand, I don’t think Rick is unfair asking for that price. A press is worth what a person is willing to pay and what the seller is willing to let it go for.

It’s always a gamble with presses. Remember you are buying a used piece of old machinery and there will be risks. Paying more doesn’t always guarantee there won’t be problems. In fact the presses I’ve paid the most for I’ve had the most problems with.

I sincerely appreciate each reply and opinion. Thank you.

There is a big difference in the asking price for a press between someone who buys and sells presses as a business, wanting to make a profit, and someone who has been running a press for years and one day doesn’t need it anymore and is willing to sell it to get a big heavy chunk of unwanted metal out of the way so they can use the space.
If you can afford the more expensive option there’s nothing wrong with that route. If you would rather, you can keep your eyes open, check auction sites and talk to people until you find the right machine/price for you.
You gotta figure the businessman selling presses for profit cleans the presses, and stores them in a dry place for some time. That does cost something. I have found that asking this type of businessman to negotiate his price downward is not productive.
One real but rare option is to be there the last day a big printer goes up for auction and haul away the C&P that no one bid on and the building owner wants “out of here now” for free.

I am about 4 hours from the coast. I have been lucky enough to acquire a few C&P’s in the last year, all of which I have sold here on BP. If the seller has a professional carpenter who can construct a wooden crate, as well as secure the press, shipping is typically safe. I do not recommend shipping on an open pallet, for reasons the gentleman responding to your craigslist ad mentioned.
I sell all my presses for $1500 or less, including chases and “printable” rollers. I am competent in the operation of C&P’s and typically get follow up calls from customers, most of which I can answer, or get an answer to. I expect to have more in the near future - they will be posted here on BP when available. If you are still in the market when I have my next press up for sale, do not hesitate to contact me.

What is going to kill letterpress printing? Could it possibly be the skyrocketing cost of presses?????? I am simply amazed, at what has happened to the cost of presses in the past several years. The price of crappy Kelsey Presses (that’s right, I said it) seems to me to border on the criminal!

How do we possibly expect younger people to take up the torch and continue with this craft if we price things out of their reach?????? I can’t imagine anyone trying to start from scratch at this point. How disheartening.

New handset type is reasonably available (from Skyline Type and others) and photopolymer is very cost-effective, but $1,000+ for a little counter-top platen press???? Oh the insanity.

Just my opinion.


Rick, I bought a ready-to-print press last week for $100, last year I bought a Poco 0 for $350 (along with a second small platen, a dozen cases of almost unused foundry type, a large box full of unopened fonts, a slug cutter and a decent set of metal furniture suitable for the Poco).

Anyone who spends those insane amounts for a Kelsey 3x5 or some other such toy are either ignorant of the press’ value, impatient or both.

When it comes to paying high prices for a floor model C&P, that is perfectly fair if you don’t have the time/experience to restore one. You can make back the difference in a handful of print jobs, in much less time than it would take to get that $300 press out of the basement and get it running. I don’t do a ton of printing due to finishing university and working full time, but in the last two weeks I’ve run three small jobs and made enough to cover the buying price of my last four press-purchases.



The good news is that all of the infatuation with tiny countertop presses and antique jobber presses means that that the real workhorses can be had for very reasonable prices.

I’m buying an 8x12 C&P right now for $1650. It’s not ready to print and hasn’t run in some time. I didn’t want to spend that much on a C&P that isn’t ready-to-print, but as Foolproof said, prices have been skyrocketing and I need a press. It really is disheartening. I don’t even know if this thing will run and only god knows the last time it was oiled.

I would never pay $3500 for a ready-to-print C&P, but my husband is very mechanically inclined and would love to fix up another press for me. (Thankfully). I think that if you want to get printing right away, it could be worth it. Does the cost include delivery? If so, I would definitely say it’s worth it.

Illustrating perfectly the needless rise in all things letterpress. :o)

Might be a simple question of supply and demand…

I think it is supply and demand. Until someone makes a new press for letterpress printing, or letterpress printing stops gaining popularity, the existing presses will only get more expensive. I probably could’ve gotten the same/a comparable press for half the price a year ago.

As stated in an earlier comment, it is indeed supply and demand. However, what (too) many people fail to grasp is the buyer has as much flex as the seller in any exchange. Unfortunately, inadequate understanding of what will meet the skill/knowledge level of the purchaser coupled with heedless observance of need/want balance, favours the seller. If one cannot control the inking of a Kelsey, how then to master the Windmill?
I’m thinking the patron Saint of the Black Art in this age is truly P.T. Barnum. :o)

KristyB, is letterpress still gaining in popularity?

Bill Hannegan, from recent eBay prices, it seems some tabletop press owners are graduating to larger presses while others are bailing out. Small press prices have been dropping (and many of the ones for sale are clean and come with hobby-setups, rather than being barn-finds), while floor models are rising.

The upside is that some of the hobbyists are taking things to the next level (and hopefully seeking instruction before running automatic presses). The downside I suppose is that ready-to-print presses are more expensive.

Good deals on any equipment are still to be found, but you might have to be patient and stay alert.


Bill, I think so. There are new printers all the time and brides looking for letterpress invitations everyday. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been wrong.

Kristy and Kim, thanks. I am not looking for any new presses. I have a Miehle V50, a Kluge 10x15, a Vandercook Universal 1 and a Monarch 9x13 that I bought over 20 years ago and haven’t done much with. Hoping to get back into letterpress. I mostly love to see these glorious old beauties saved from being scapped.

That’s amazing, Bill. I hope you’re able to get back into it. My press wish list includes a Kluge and Vandercook. Unfortunately, they’re not in the budget just yet. :)

Sounds like an awesome collection, Bill. I hope you find the inspiration and get printing again, soon you’ll be rescuiong more presses from the heap ;)


my advise is to buy EVERY kluge/ C&P you can get your hands on/ afford…. these machines are so dangerous to uninformed operators that insurance companies won’t let a “hired” employee to run one…. These machines will never be built again…you are buying history/ danger/ adventure….. enjoy…..

My opinion? Don’t pay the high cost of a ready-to-go C&P. I picked one up last year up here in the Northwest where they are far less plentiful. The C&P 8x12 OS had great newish rollers and a boxcar base, with a variable speed motor (no treadle) for $1,200. Replacing the feedboards and fixing a few minor things here and there allowed me to really get to know my machine before I was neck deep in an important project with a tight deadline. I think it’s invaluable to learn how to do a little work on your machine and paying a little less for one that hasn’t been “restored” is a great way to go.