Is this c&p worth it to a newbie!

I am new to letterpress, and have actually become quite obsessed. I am a graphic designer that has not actually worked a press before…I am excitedly awaiting my first workshop . In the mean time I have found a press!!!!!!!

I am an avid antiquer and came across a circa 1905 C&P 12X18 that is only 2 miles away from my house!! They are asking $1500 will go to $1050, but to my untrained eye I can tell it needs a ton of work. I know it has been there for @2-3 years, so the owner might be willing to negotiate if I can go to him with a laundry list of things that will have to be bought to put it in working order. (ie $300 worth of rollers)

As far as I can tell, it might be slightly rusty and I know it is very dusty. The rollers have disintegrated. I am thinking it was an automatic, b/c the wiring is shot and there is a counter on it. I don’t know the other things that I should look for to see whether this is worth the money, time, and effort to fix up. Does the locale trump the work and extra $ involved? Should I just wait and get a table top to start off with? Or should I go to him with a lowball “your not going to find anyone else to take this monster off your hands”!

Any information or advice would be much appreciated. I can probably get in to take photos tomorrow and post to give a better idea of what I am looking at.


Log in to reply   10 replies so far

In my opinion you should pass. I know of one right now in Indiana that may be headed to the scrap yard because a buyer cannot be found at $300. Of course moving it would be very expensive, but $1,000 just because it’s close to home is still too much for an old C&P in need of repair.
Just my opinion.

We just gave away a 12x18 Kluge w/automatic feeder for FREE just to pick it up. It worked & only needed rollers & trucks.
Sounds kinda high to me.
If he will move it & furnish new rollers included it might be a good price.

It sounds like the owner took a quick look at Ebay or some online dealer who usually sells hot stamp or die cutting presses and set a price…Maybe you can educate them a bit :)

It’s “worth” whatever he can get for it. I have seen good C & P 8 X 12s sell for $50 and $100, so I think $1,000, at least where I live, is way too high. I think it’s smart to start with something smaller and see if you really need such a large, heavy, hard-to-move press. I have had the same 8 X 12 that I use since 1975. If I want to print something large, I use a proof press.

It sounds as if the antique dealer thinks they have a real antique. Unless the press is in prestine condition, I suggest it will never sell for that. It will cost at least $200-300 to move unless you have some very good friends. If it needs work, then you have that much more to spend. A 12 x 18 is next to the largest size C&P made and very heavy, 1500-1700 lbs? so moving is tough. Like Kevin said, a smaller size is better to start with. I also have an 8 X 12, cost $350. My moving cost was minimal because it was very close. But new rollers, treadle hook, etc added another $300-400. I think you can find a less expensive starter press, hopefully closer to you.

Although I am VERY new to all of this, I would personally pass. I purchased my C&P only a year ago for $300 and it came with a type cabinet, 4 drawers of type, loads of accessories and the press was in great shape!! Only needed new rollers. My C&P is a 10x15 and let me tell you, it is HUGE. It took an entire day to move and a lot of hard work to clean… about 2 weeks worth of good ol’ fashioned elbow grease to get ‘her’ lookin’ semi-clean and shiny. I just cannot fathom having a press larger than mine and at that price - no way. Like the others said, I would wait a bit and keep your eyes open for other smaller presses that won’t rob your wallet.

Good luck!

Thanks everyone for your input…I think I am going to wait a bit. I was just so excited to see and feel the press, that my heart just wanted to save it, but I know it is really not the best thing, unless he decides to give it away!

On that note, does anyone know of anything table top or small floor model that needs a home in the southeast???

Thanks again, this site is such a great resource!

Just one more thought.
keep a close eye on the classifieds here at Briar Press. Even if it doens’t lead directly to the press that your heart desires, it will help you develop a good idea of what different models are selling for. You will also get a sense of how common or rare certain models are, helping you to be a more informed buyer when the time is right.
Good luck

I would recommend running a “wanted” ad in your local newspaper, and posting some “wanted” cards on the bulletin boards at grocery stores and laudromats. There are a lot of small presses sitting in basements, gathering dust. Sometimes it takes a little prodding to get people thinking about them again.

Updated. I got one of these for free right on Briarpress. That being so, it cost me about $300 to move it the 75 miles to my shop. It needed a good bit of repair (the drive wheel had somehow become lodged in the brake, and snapped), but now that I have it running, it’s quite the nice little press. Er, nice BIG press.

It also came with a set of semi-workable rollers (fine for big dirty posters, but probably not for doing a 15-up sheet of business cards).

If it’s close and easy to move, it might be worth a few hundred bucks. The real question is: what kind of return will you get on the investment in this press? The work it lets you bid on could quickly help it earn its keep.