Imprint from table top press

Hi guys,

I’m looking to buy a press and want to create the modern typical letterpress imprinted look, (rather than the kiss approach). For the most part, I’ll be creating mostly business card size prints, so if need be, I can print individually that small. Most my print runs will be 500 to 1000 and I can take a few days to print that quantity if needs be.

Would something like a Kelsey be able to achieve this? I’m a big strong chap, but I don’t want to damage the press. Is there a better press I should consider? I’d really prefer a bench top press to begin with, for size and cost reasons.

Many thanks, Richie

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Would something like a Kelsey be able to achieve this?

My response is a weak maybe.

The press was not designed to do this. Many who try break the handle.

If you are unable to go to a floor model press (not practical for many) then I would certainly recommend at least considering a tabletop with a more robust build. Something like a C&P Pilot or similar would have a little more strength than a Kelsey. That being said many of these presses are broken by printers pushing them well beyond their intended limits.


Adana in the UK have just announced that they are making the 8 x 5 model again in a beefed up form to cater for deep impression.

Frank, the parent company of Adana or one of the refurbishers? Sorry, just curious— I don’t see anything about it in the webpage, and sounds interesting!

Richie, while I agree that they are not designed for it and a floor model would be better, I would also say that your materials make a big difference. The high quality fluffy cotton papers available will help with the effect you want. Do consider a heavier machine though, I have a kelsey but I’ve seen beautiful stuff come out of the larger pilots. It may be a bit more expensive but I would say it’s worth it in the long haul and would have tried to talk myself into it if I had a time machine. Just my humble opinion for what it’s worth. Good luck.

Re the above x 2? Apart from the H.S. 2 in CAST IRON**** format, of which there were not too many first time around,!! virtually all models up to but >EXCLUDING< the T.P. 48 and T.P.71 which were/are Floor standing models anyway were cast in comparative *Crap* Diecast Zinc, Alloy, Monkey Metal or what have you.

Perfectly adequate and serviceable for their original purpose, I.E. normal Letterpress *Kiss Impression* BUT always understood that from Diecast Zinc/Alloy etc, in clamshell format, anything above (generally) 60 -70% of the total form area, was above and beyond any original impression strength capabilities.

Hence the above, *Beefed Up* syndrome would appear to be Flogging a Dead Horse, unless the Main-frames (M/c. Bodies) are to be re cast in Cast Iron format, which if it were to be aimed at the Deep Impression brigade the operating Lever/Handle would also have to be uprated and extended.
The author has on sight, examples of every model up to and including, the H.S.3 which is 1/2” bigger in each direction than the 8 x 5.!!
Although the Body (Main Frame) is still Die cast Alloy and consequently heavier than the 8 x 5, with a forme of Type or a Plate with as MUCH as 60% of the total impression area, it still requires a certain amount of physical strength to pull a reasonable impression.
O.K. the border for a Certificate or Similar would be/is a doddle at the full out size, even locked straight into the Bed but that only represents a minute overall impression capability, which probably explains why we see references to Comparable American machines in Cast Iron format with side levers/handles, *Pro Rata* much longer than English equivalents.

On sight at time of post one U.K. (FAILED) alternative to Adana,s 8 x 5 & H.S.3. as above, WAS/IS the >AJAX< =
Table Top, Parallel Approach, in Die cast Alloy with bed size the same as H.S.3.
Acquired with the main frame split in 3 places, professionally Alloy Welded, works and is working perfectly, (being Parallel Approach) but only up to 50/60% of total Impression area.

Some would be very, very, sceptical about ANY Spiel that would accompany such *Beefed Up* …. Phoenix from the ashes…… Especially as most, if not all, of the original,s of Mr Donald Aspinall,s records/archives have gone A.W.O.L

****The author has an H.S.2 on sight in working order AND with Cast Iron body, Would probably cope with Deep Impression up to 70-80% of impression area, but out of respect and a little learning, maybe, would not even attempt such.!!

Thank you for the info! I thought it interesting based more so on the impression that it gave me that a company was taking enough note of increased interest in the subject to attempt to cash in on it.

The paper people know we are here…

(Sidenote: when you say impression area, you mean the printable forme area, right? Which I thought that was always suggested more around 40%)

The above comment to Mick. Apologies.

The announcement of the new adana was in and the machine is being made for Caslon.

Weka press and Frank hemmings, thank you for the information and link!

I would suggest you go for a Model 3 or 4, they have counter weights which help give a bit more clout on impression.
Model were the only family of presses that went from small home printing tabletops to commercial treadle presses (Ignoring Adana Mick, they didn’t have a family of presses just a load of oddments) I met an ex UK printer a few months back who spent part of his apprenticeship on a Model 3 and was debossing on it as well as creasing, perforating and printing.
If you intend to impress into card you want a hard plate and soft packing. Some early table tops came with a rubber packing, I use butyl pond liner.

The small table top presses were never designed to do the kind of production you are talking about. After the first or second job you do at 1000, one or two color printing, you will want to go hang yourself for even considering it.
Try to get a slightly bigger press that will do a great job and you will never be sorry.

Thank you to everyone for their input. The new Adana looks just like what I need right now. As much as I want a windmill, (reeeeeealllllly want), I can’t justify the space and expense until I know the demand is there, so this new benchtop is a perfect compromise.

Im a screen printer, so understand the limitations of a small manual machine versus an auto, but the print speed will be more than enough for me initially as I’m just printing for myself.

Thanks again for all your great advice and ideas

Hi 20vk,
assume you are in the uk. If you are, are you aware of the the British Printing Society?. There might be a group near you who would be glad to give advice. See their website.

20vK, perhaps make haste *Slowly* study the posts by *Inky* …*Haidoni* ..*Platen Printer* *Donald Bixler* and the author,! and up to a point (important point) read between the lines, all fairly diplomatically pointing out that at the proposed (up-rated) price, may not prove to perform that which it is suggested.

Try to access and read up Many Many back posts on B.P. the problems associated with Deep Impression etc. even on “Cast Iron” Kelsey,s Sigwalts and other such from the U.S.A. & SquintaniS,s here U.K.

Make haste slowly, ?? implies that to speculate that proposed figure may be a question of do not *Dip Ones toe in the water* too quickly.

The authors and others, above, resume,s hint at such.

Good Luck. Mick

I’m actually in the Caribbean, but should be visiting the UK once I’ve sold my house. So I still have a good 6 months in which to decide and commit.

Hey Mick - the newly manufactured Adana has been beefed up in design, as I understand it, specifically to be able to create deeper imprints without damage to the press. I’ve seen prints by it and they are certainly as deep and even, (admittedly on small card stock), as I could possibly wish for.

The only issues I have read about with respect to benchtop models are speed, damage to the press from overstraining it whilst trying to achieve deeper impressions and uneven pressure/ink distribution on large prints. Have I missed another shortfall? I’ve got to say that the prints I’ve seen from the latest incarnation of the Adana looked great to me

I’m printing business cards and hangtags. If I have to do them 2 at a time or even one at a time, that will significantly reduce my costs and add flexibility.

Cards & photos on the newest model of Adana by Mapletea

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