Handfeed Stand (standalone) - or what?

I also came across this interesting stand, on Saturday. It was part of a procurement I made, and appears to be like the handfeed table attached to some old handfed letterpresses. It’s on it’s own stand, and does not seem to be improvised. Any ideas? Were these produced and marketed for this purpose, or was this improvised by a creative printer …

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Many presses in Europe came with these stands. Some had an adjustable attachment around the pole and four dimples in the feet, that allowed you to take the rollers off for cleaning and put them to rest. In the photo, you see three of them, the ones on either side of the iron hand press are complete was the crown-like attachment on the stand. Picture taken at the MIAT in Ghent, Belgium.

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Outstanding. From what I can see, mine looks a lot like the one one the left.

They were actually used for the large hand-fed platens, like Colt’s Armory or Galley presses which did not come with feed-boards. One would be positioned to the right as a feed table, and one on the left as a delivery.

The tables used for hand-presses well into the 19th century were called Banks and Horses. The two functions were combined into one larger table - one side flat, and the other at an incline to facilitate feeding damp paper, as the job of feeding paper and removing the sheet belonged to one person.

Here is a link to a listing on this site from almost two years ago showing a pair of feed tables that were being sold with a Colt’s Armory press: http://www.briarpress.org/33330

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Using these with a Gally press, the left-hand table could be the feed and the right-hand the delivery if that’s what the form required. The press could be worked to either direction, for example when backing up a form while maintaining guide edges.
Sometimes there is a drawer. None I’ve used had lips like the table above.

I think the one you have would be for sheet delivery, as the boards on two sides would make it much easier to stack the paper coming off of the press.

Outstanding. Thanks for the photos and links to other photos. I cleaned it off a bit, it seemed to have paint (not ink) from an art studio. I’ll keep enough imperfections to keep it’s character …

The terms banks and horses seem to have subtly changed over time.

Moxon (1677) defined a horse as “the form or bench press-men set the heaps of paper on” - Heaps being the unprinted paper - “having wrought off his heap, he [the pressman] takes it off the paper bench and sets it on the floor, covering it with a waste-sheet: and gives notice to the boy, or to the ware-house-keeper, to fetch it away and hang it to dry”. This seems to indicate that horse and paper bench were synonymous terms and that both the unprinted paper and the printed paper were stacked on the same bench, in two separate stacks. Moxon’s text does not use the term bank.

Savage (1841) defined bank as “a deal table on which the pressmen have the paper when printing” and adds “it is useful to have a small drawer in the front of it, in which the pressmen may put their thin paper for overlays, their paste points, and many other articles that would otherwise be lying upon the shelf or platen.” He defined horse as a “form or bench pressman set the heaps of paper on” and distinguished the horse as being “set upon the bank; this horse is made sloping down to the fore edge, and the white [i.e. unprinted] paper is placed on it; the pressman is thus enabled to draw the sheets down with the nail of his thumb, or a piece of wood, bone, or ivory, and it is more convenient to remove to the tympan, as the horse is raised near to it, and inclines in the same direction.” The accompanying engraving shows a sloping surface on top of a table very close in general appearance to the engraving upthread.

Free Presse, I believe that you are comparing apples and oranges. Moxon mentions both horse, and paper bench. The horse being on the near side to the press, and as described in almost every early printer’s manual as being the place unprinted sheets are placed (as you noted). The earliest images of printing shops show the unprinted and printed papers being located on the same table, the unprinted papers to the left, and the printed to the right. That Moxon mentions a horse and paper bench leads me to believe that there was some differentiation even in his day. It is not surprising that a better description shows up 400 years later.

I examined Luckombe’s History and Art of Printing (1771), and he calls the paper table a bank; which is less than 100 years after Moxon, although he does not mention a horse. The purpose of the horse was be able to fan the dampened sheets in such a way as to make them easier to grab.

Whether the earliest printers used a slanted board like the image above we will likely never know. But a good indicator that they have been used from earliest times is evidenced at the Plantin Moretus Museum in Antwerp. The printing shop on display originates between 1580 and 1600, which is nearly a century before Moxon. Images from the museum show clearly both horses and banks.


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