second press - which to buy?

Hi there! Hoping I can get some advice on what press to buy. I currently have a C&P Tabletop (which is incredible!) But I need a larger press to ensure an even print for larger projects (I do wedding invitations and in order to accommodate for larger sizes such as 6x6, 7x7 I have to chop up my plates and rotate my sheets to get the entire design printed - aka. a lot of extra work).

I posted a while back considering a Heidelberg, but opted to wait - it seemed too soon and still does.

So now my options are as follows:

- another table top, Golding Official Model 6, 8.25 x 12.5 in.
- another tabletop, Craftsman Table Top Platen, 9 x 12
- Golding Pearl (the stand-alone one with the wheel?)
- Chandler & Price (the stand-alone one with the wheel?)

…pardon my lack of knowledge on the last two, I know what they look like but don’t know too much about them! All I know is that I think I want one of those more than another tabletop.

My worry with the tabletops is I already have a tabletop and felt I should get the “next step” of letterpress machines…something that is a bit quicker and different since I’ll still be using the tabletop!

My biggest concern is getting a deep impression with the Golding Pearl/C&P. Right now I push my tabletop to her absolute limit and get serious impressions out of her! I want the same with whatever next press I get.

Another thing to note, although odd, is that I’m 5-foot-nothin! (quite petite) and I need to be able to operate this next machine properly. I worry with the Craftsmen that the handle is too high (sigh) haha.

Anyway and all advice is greatly appreciated!

Thanks :)

(examples of current impressions I get out of my tabletop and am hoping to achieve with my next press too).

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Log in to reply   13 replies so far

The more mass, the easier the press will do deep impression without damage to itself. Personally, I would go with the full-size C&P, especially a New Series. They’re built more heavily than the (prettier) Old Series presses. An 8x12 would be adequate but a 10x15 would be better.

The next questions would be how much space do you have, what kind of weight can the floor of that space take, and what kind of power does that space have? A New Series 8x12 weighs in at 1050 Lbs without a motor or motor-mount. A 10x15 weighs 1500 Lbs bare. I would give either press a minimum of 6’x7’ of working space but more would be better. Both can be run on standard 110v US wall current but will run better on 220v.

Both sizes can be treadle operated if they’re configured for it, though your height might make that difficult. I’ve seen very petite women operate full-size presses effectively before but they were powered presses.

Finally, is there any place in your area where you can get some hands-on time with presses like these or better still real training? It’s pretty hard to hurt yourself with a tabletop press. A full-size C&P can crush a hand in the blink of an eye. It’s worth your time to get some training.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

You have done some nice work on your small press.

All good advice from Mephits.

It would be very good for you to kick the tires and try the press you think you wish to buy. Find someone who has one and ask. Most will be happy to receive you. Tell where you are.
Your height should not prevent you from using a floor press.
The delivery board has a second purpose and that is to keep you away from the press at a proper and safe distance. You should come against the delivery board about at your belly button. You will need a large wooden box. One that is broad enough that you cannot accidentally step back and fall off. Keep the box in mind if you go to try a press. Take something like several pieces of 2 x 8 planks or a case of canned soup. These only temporary for testing the press.
If you are serious about a motorized floor model platen press, contact me for my four rules for safe operation.



Buy the biggest* press you have space for to avoid having to buy a 3rd press before too long - power is nice so you can concentrate on printing and not being the engine to make the press go, particularly if you print long runs.

* biggest means largest print area - a 10x15 as Michael suggests

Of course, since all presses are used, it can be a question of what you can find in your part of the country.


Sarah -

I agree with the other posters that you should take some time to find someone in your area with the type of press that you are interested in.

Based on my experience in getting acclimatized with my “new” Golding Pearl #3 (it’s only 122 years old), I would suggest that you take Pearls off your list. They are simply not built to take the kinds of impression that your market seems to demand.

It is a beautiful, small, easy to print on press (easy to start with, a lifetime to master I’m sure), but it is only about 350 lbs. vs. the 1000 lbs. of an 8x12 C&P. That weight difference shows up in the thickness of the castings and the ability of the mechanism to deliver force.

One of the first things that I was repeatedly warned about when I acquired my press is “don’t do deep impression, you’ll break it.”

Fortunately since I’m operating a private press, not a wedding invitation business that wasn’t a big deal.

Good luck with your press hunt.

Thanks for the feedback everyone!

So a few things:

@mephits Space isn’t an issue - I’m fortunate to have a very big space available to me which is part of a larger warehouse (I.E.: room to grow!) 10x15 would be WILDLY incredible…!!! I wish these presses were easier to come by…

@inky Thanks for your kind words re. my work! And thanks for the advice re. the box! Also, I hadn’t thought of the “motorized” vs. manual. I thought these larger presses with the wheels were manual…*blushing* hehe

@letterpressdad - right! It’s so hard to find exactly what you want, so I am trying to decide between what is available to me :) …and I know!! I’m hoping to find something with a much larger printing area compared to what I have so I don’t run into wanting a 3rd, 4th, 5th… hehe

@kurtbcarr >_< lol you’re funny. and thank you - I’m happy you were so straight about my main concern of the impression. That kind of rules it out for me! I really like deep impressions - the deeper, the better!

@everyone I would LOVE to be able to test out a press before purchase…I thought I would be welcomed by a few people I reached out to who have the presses I was interested in looking at (even here in Montreal). Everyone on Briar seems so nice and helpful, but I get the sense that locally people don’t feel the sense of “community” but rather a “threat” of the trade…it’s disappointing ;( I always felt there is enough out there for all of us!

I am going to continue looking and hopefully land on something special soon!

Just so I know because the motorize C&P is new to me… what are the full names / models of the press I should be looking for?

Totally appreciate all of your feedback!

Sarah, if you would like to try a few presses out to see what they are like I would let you come and play at my shop, I have windmills, a 12x18 kluge, a 12x18 golding, a 10x15 c&p and a 8x12 c&p. Only problem i’m about an hours ride south of Boston.


If you are in Canada, check out

I don’t know how far you are away, but you can check. I’ve bought type from them (and they have a lot) and have been pleased with the purchases and the nice people I’ve dealt with.

You might check with as well. A really really nice guy there. He may be able to help.

You might consider posting a want ad on Briarpress to see if something in your neighborhood surfaces. I found a Challenge 15-SP that way at a good price.

good luck and be patient -



If you let us know where you are generally, someone on here can probably help you find someone close by that has a variety of presses you could give a try.

Muncie, IN

personally i believe you are much better of with these type of machines-if findable in Canada-slower hand feed, heavy impression, simpler to operate


probably much better or with a “Victoria” art platens for hand feeding, for small runs, much simpler more straightforward machine to use. H needs extensive training.Also above are parallel platen presses much better for art printing, more rollers too.


Considering you are in Montreal, you’re not too far from either Don and Craig Black’s store Don Black Linecasting in Toronto ( or John Barrett’s Letterpress Things in Chickopee, Massachusetts ( Both are within the realm of both visiting to try and potentially buying and moving to your location. That’s assuming you can’t find anything local to you.

Michael Hurley
Titivilus Press
Memphis, TN

@dickg what a lovely offer!! If I’m ever in the area you can bet that I’ll pop by - sound like you have a fun operation! Maybe this summer :) #roadtrip

@letterpressdad I actually bought my first press from Don last year - am am hoping to find another from him, but before I dig around his shop I wanted to get my info in order (aka which press I should be looking for!) Will also check out and think about putting up a wanted ad too, but again… need to figure out what I want - ah!! This is all very exciting. I hope to find something bigger soon..but I do feel, like with anything, I’m getting mixed review. I think the best thing to do in the end would be to “try” the different presses (if i can of course…) stay tuned!

@rmiller021 I’m in Montreal, Quebec (Canada) … I hope so!!!

@jonathanjeclipse i like the sound of “slower hand feed, heavy impression, simpler to operate”… check, check and check please! Thanks for the input :P

@mephits thanks for the input!! I’m in touch with Don but will also check out John - thanks so much!!!

Everyone on Briar is always so helpful and I can’t thank you enough.

Have a great one ;)

A different view on the “simpler to operate” perception of a Monopol or Victoria, from long experience: they can be perhaps easier to get to a good impression, but cleaning up after is not simple at all. My Victoria, from fountain to riders, has 14 rollers and cylinders in the ink train (four more than my Heidelberg cylinder) and with no sort of washup attachment, cleanup is all hand scrub, as much as 40 minutes for a dark-to-light color change (metallics even worse). And more ink is needed in the train than in simpler systems. The relatively small Kobold or Vicobold would be easier to clean, and faster running.
I’d second the suggestion of a 8x12 or 10x15 C&P. Working out the details of clean consistent inking of photopolymer isn’t easy, but many people here are doing this daily. Washup of three rollers and an ink disk is fast, and if you get a set of rollers for dark ink and another for light ink, it will be even faster.
As for the Windmill, most of the people I know knocking out clean photopolymer work are using this platen. And some are giving instruction and doing workshops, so you wouldn’t be on your own.

Hi Sarah! I love your work. Could you share how you get such a beautiful impression? I’m new and looking to get my first press. Would love any advice you have to offer!