Is this a Craftsman Superior?

Hi there! I am looking at purchasing my first letterpress. Does anyone know by just this picture if this is a Craftsman Superior? The current owner isn’t sure and it doesn’t say on the machine.

image: craftsman.JPG


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Unless my eyes are deceiving me, that is a C&P Pilot, may be a clone if no name is present.

I suspect it’s a clone — C&P were pretty promiscuous putting their name on their products. But there were a lot of Pilot clones, including at least one Japanese product. It looks in good shape though I don’t see rollers, and it should have a much sturdier table for actual use.


If it is a clone, does that mean the price would be less? He is asking $1500. Compared to Don Black prices that seems like a good deal? It’s supposed to be in good working order. He says it is a 6x10 craftsman using rollers and trucks made to the specs of a chandler and price pilot press.

It’s definitely not a letterpress, but a printing press…

1500 is how much money, to you? A good deal these days is compared to the other folks on the market for a press, the location of the press, the condition, etc…

Have you seen it in person? Had the opportunity to print on it? Is it complete?

In general $1500 I’d say is on the low end for a complete and running press of this design.

The clones are not necessarily any less valuable.

Have you seen the press in person? If not, can you give it a once-over in person before purchasing, it would be worth a day-trip? Otherwise there are always risks.

Is it close enough to pick up, or will it need to be delivered/shipped, as that can affect the cost significantly.


I am able to look at it before committing to purchase. It does seem to be complete and according to the current owner it is in good working order. I haven’t used a press like this before so I’m trying to do my research so I can assess properly in person. If there is anything specific I should watch for please let me know. I would appreciate it.

It is located about 3 hours from me so I will be able to just pick it up.

It’s hard to tell if the chase is in the press or not — if it is not be sure there is at least one. Acquiring a replacement chase, depending on the make of the press, might be challenging. I’m not sure if Pilot chases fit clones properly, but because they are popular presses chases aren’t common on the market.


The current owner just sent me these extra photos. So I guess that answers a few questions …

image: rollers.JPG


image: boxcar.JPG


image: craftsmanMachine.jpg


If, as reported by the present owner, the press is in good working order — and the stuff shown in your additional photos is included; grab it.
The Boxcar base for photopolymer plates will require furniture and quoins to lock up. They should be included. A composing stick is shown which indicates that type may have been used.

If you are truly interested in printing and plan to use the kit for a long time, the price is quite fair. Unless there be a decline in the interest in hobby printing, or a steep decline in the economy, the press will retain its value.
Get some ink on your shirt.

The only things he is mentioning that is wrong with it is that one of the springs on the bottom broke (I assume that is an easy fix) and that the rollers and trucks are made for a C&P and not the Craftsman (which he says is common for this press, and that they work great) …

I’d say including all that, the press is a good deal. Go for it.

Having usable rollers/trucks/cores and a boxcar-base is a lot of extra value. I’d be all over it at that price.

The broken spring the seller is referencing is mounted between the rocker (supporting the platen) and a shaft located just above and behind the shaft upon which the rocker pivots. This secondary shaft cannot be removed without disassembling the press. The shaft is straight with no shoulders but the jam nuts prevent its withdrawal through a side frame. The spring however can be replaced by opening the end of the spring.

The challenge is two fold. First the spring is made of hardened steel and quite resistant to bending. The second is the shaft is 1/2” in diameter. The spring end ID is 5/8”. This extension spring is a common hardware store item.

Most every Superior and Monarch press we have restored, tuned up or repaired required new springs. When the press is open the springs are extended. I have assumed that this constant stress has lead to the failures.

The good news is that the spring isn’t required to use the press. In my opinion Craftsmen added the two springs to provide a bit of aid when closing the press and a softer fall for the platen against its bumper(s).

The other common Pilot clones have no such springs and function just fine.


Thanks everyone. Very helpful!

Looks like a CraftsMEN Superior to me. I got one for a hundred bucks a few years ago. I’m told I stole it. I agree, I am a dirty rotten thief.