Louis Colavecchio, Master Counterfeiter, Is Dead at 78

For those who bought a press from Louis Colavecchio, and participated in the discussion, his obituary is at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/13/us/louis-colavecchio-dead.html .

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If memory serves correctly, there is a hydroponic marijuana growing operation, drug bust and some amateur printers swindled out of their Pilot press money missing from the tale as it is told here. Maybe the rap sheet was just too long.

RIP, Lou. No doubt it was a wild ride!

Another customer bites the dust. He actually paid me money that was good for buying some press parts when his press swindle was going on. I even talked with him several times before he was uncovered. I remember that the first, and only, press that he built was beautifully done, the only trouble was that as I recall it was mostly made out of plastic.He used a different last name but it escapes me now. A lot of folks were excited about getting a brand new Pilot. Alas, it was all a sham.

We made a deal with Louis years ago for a Kelsey lever. As I recall the price rose twice before it was actually shipped. Yep, he got the better of us. He was slippery. Terri picked up on it immediately. Me not so much as I give folks the benefit of the doubt… most of the time.
RIP Lou,
Tom & Terri

I provided moral support and some guidance for a wonderful gal that took him to court over never delivering on that new press. If I recall correctly, she gave him a $1200 deposit and never saw a thing. He didn’t show for the first court appearance and made excuse after excuse to the judge in subsequent hearings. She eventually won her case, but, she never received any money. John Barrett had a press on display from another distraught “customer of Louis” that Louis restored into a state of completely non function. Pretty, but, not functional. Ink disk sanded into a convex shape, New hardware store bolts with heads too high for the press to even cycle. Many girls (mostly) were taken advantage of by this guy. He may have restored and sold some presses in the beginning that were fine, but, he also created horror story after horror story and was not good for the letterpress community. As a press restorer myself, I dealt with many of his victims. I will not miss him.

I remember when he showed up with the plastic Pilot prototype. People were very excited, but of course, it was too good to be true. We’ll see if his co-conspirator on that venture chimes in, or if he is satisfied with disparaging those that called the bluff from afar.

It sounds as if Lou couldn’t help himself to the very end.

Double post.

I followed Louis’s “career” for many years, and had several discussions with him when he was offering new lever operated presses for sale. I asked him many direct questions, and seldom got a straight answer.

More than once he offered to deliver a new press in six weeks…. and told me that he had many happy customers. Unfortunately he never could produce a photo of a real press he had produced, pics of the press parts in fabrication, or give me the name of any of his customers. All he ever sent was a pic of his plastic non-functional replica, made a bunch of promises, and asked for money. He was pretty slick, but there was no way I’d ever do business with him.

Later, I saw him trying to run a variation of the same scam on eBay.

As Kimaboe mentioned, I wonder if his former partner will jump in to defend him…. but you know, there really is no moral defense for a life wasted scamming folks out of their hard-earned money.

Alan Runfeldt will not talk about his connection with Lou.

I didn’t figure he would discuss it…. but he offers his side of the story on hi website:


If you read it you will find he still claims that one press was produced and sold to a person in Virginia. That’s similar to what Lou also said ten years ago. Unfortunately, Alan doesn’t post any pics of the finished machine, or parts of the machine, or anything that convinces me they ever delivered a press.

Whatever the truth may be, my experiences and the experiences of others, totally soured my opinion of Alan.

AKA Winking Cat Press

Norton security warns me that excelsiorpress.org is a dangerous website

One man was an extremely good engraver, the other a printer who collected letterpress items; and tried to help others with his knowledge. Perhaps things got out of hand or even astray. We will probably never know what really happened.


He reiterates that one was sold, at a loss to Lou, and that he bought the plastic pattern “press” himself because, and I quote, “those idiots” at Briarpress weren’t interested.

I wonder if it would actually be worthwhile for someone to remake Pilots from new castings. They seem to be the sweet spot for size for newer printers, often sell for more than a larger press. eh, probably not.

A few of our members have bad reputations, most have good. Those reputations are earned over time by word and deed. They are not based on a single incident, sale, or conversation. They are earned over time. They are justified. Anyone that takes money from another person, and doesn’t deliver the item purchased or return the money deserves the bad reputation. There are no excuses that justify that behavior. None. If the shoe fits.