Frisket for Columbian

Hello Everyone,

I recently purchased 1853 Columbian press and have to say I rather enjoy printing on it. However, I would like to print books - ok, maybe booklets for starters - and for that friskret will make life easier. But there is no attachment for one. Searching the web, I found only one illustration of Columbian with frisket, seemingly from old book/advert. On all pictures I found, there is no frisket. Should it have Albion style lugs on on the tympan frame? If not, how was it attached?

The pictures of the press can be found on facebook/

Thank you, Martin

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Hi Martin,
Yes the frisket was attached with lugs, to form a hinge to the top of the tympan. They are often missing or removed. Low ceiling heights in print shops meant that a frisket could not be used.
Many print shops were also just laying on or using press points on the tympan, negating the use of the frisket.
There are several ways of making a frisket, most simply a second frame which hinges downwards to the tympan. You may need a welder or friendly blacksmith to do this. There should be two parts with a hole through which house a lug/bar that acts as a hinge for the frisket. There may well be a hole in the tympan (sometimes square) where this fits in. You need to make sure that when the tympan/frisket is made that it sits down flat into the press bed, some measuring and marking will be needed otherwise you are re-welding!
Another method I have seen by clever printmakers is to use register pins on the bed and a hinged card frisket mounted at the top of the bed. This was used very successfully by a printmaker we worked for. She did multi-colour register work on her press to a very high standard.
Im sure others will chime in on this but there is more than one way to crack an egg. You may be able to be inventive without spending money on welding and making the frisket.
But just to slightly contradict myself it shouldnt cost too much to have one fabricated. Take the tympan assembly to any reputable engineers shop to explain what is needed rather than just getting the frisket made separately.

if you search Amberley Printing Press on flickr 2 pics will come up of the museums Columbian, which has a frisket-although pics don’t show that as tympan is closed-from what I remember, fittings for it are just like those of an Albion’s.

Bob Oldham at adlib press will probably have more knowledge since for a while he worked on the Columbian world wide census.

Thank you Jeremy, Jonathan and indeed Bob. The argument of low height of the shop is interesting one: on the tympan frame, close to its hinge are two holes, one round one square. Could it be than the frisket frame was hinged on the same end as tympan? That would obstruct inking for sure, but will reduce total height needed for the press.
I think this will work, without making permanent changes to the original bits of the press. Will send pictures of progress.
Thanks again!

A note about the low ceiling height problem. At the Book Arts Studio of the University of Tampa they have an L-shaped “hook” hanging from the ceiling where the “outer” edge of the frisket would be, and when the tympan is opened and the frisket lfted up, its end rests on that hook in a horizontal position (parallel to the bed) but out of the way. As the hook is slightly forward of the frisket edge, when it is lifted slightly preparatory to closing it, the hook swings out of the way, making closing the frisket an easy single move. This system could be implemented in a space that has only just the ceiling height clearance for the tympan to swing open.