Cowper’s Parlour Press

While I’m here … I’m trying to track down a specific press for some research I’m writing at the moment.
(I mean, I’d love to own one, but a photo / some info would suffice!).

The press is this, the Cowper-Holtzappfel Parlour Press, from the mid-nineteenth C.

This book features it, so I might pick it up, but I was wondering if anyone here had seen / come across anything similarly British and Mid-Victorian.

Thanks in advance,

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Hi Vicki,

I own an original. There were some duplicates made in the 1970’s. What do you want to know.


Thanks Paul, I am excited that you have one!
Some photos from, different angles would be a massive help, if you could?

I’m writing about the use of these presses by women and amateurs in the mid to late Victorian period.

I suppose I’d like to know how heavy / portable it is, is it decorated? I’m wondering if these really could be used, or, like the tiny Adanas, if they were more ornamental.

Does it have a box / was there an instruction manual?

Thanks in advance,


I have a wooden parlor press that John Bright, one time owner of Sigwalt, made with the assistance of Holtzapffel’s book (I have the book, too). John was a good engineer, if a bit slapdash in his construction of the press. He’d made the toe of the impression lever a bit too short and added a weld bead on the end to make up the difference. That broke off a few dozen impressions into a run of a fairly good size image. It printed well, much better than any Kelsey I’ve owned. I’d imagine the original metal presses printed as well and probably better than my wooden version.

I’ve since seen another beautifully made wooden reproduction in the International Printing Museum in California and an original press in a private collection (not Paul’s…I’ll have to look at that next time I’m in Zion).