equipment in use at the Excelsior Press

Newspaper Printed outdoors....

What to do with These Old Presses?

September 9. 2018

So, I received this email
the other day... It's a common question that I deal with often, so I decided to save time on the next inquiry and create this page which hopefully answers this all-to-common question...

Quoting **********

> Good Morning,
> We are in the process of liquidating a letterpress shop's equipment 
> and would be interested in your suggestions for finding a home for 
> the equipment.  The shop, which is located in ****** County, NY, was 
> in operation for 50 years and includes  letterpresses (Heidelberg, 
> C&P, Chief),offset presses, guillotine, folder, linotype, Hammond 
> Saw, type and more.
> Thank you in advance  for any assistance you can provide.
> Sincerely,
And here's my reply:
Interesting question - "What to do with this old stuff?"

It depends... on what it is, where it is, how soon it has to move and a number of other factors.

But the good news is that there are limited, but accessible markets for some of the equipment you. Have. The current market value may not be too appealing, but then again, sometimes it is.

For example, do you have a Vandercook Proof Press? They are very much in demand these days - and now, even the simpler galley proof presses. Same with 8x12 Chandler & Price and C&P Pilots.

Heidelbergs are still be used widely, but presses that should sell for $4-5,000 are selling for $1200 - sometimes less... But also sometimes more.

C&Ps are very much in use, but do sell slowly, and a lot depends upon the model, size, location and ease of moving, since most buyers are novice printers. The most desirable C&P right now might be an 8x12 or 10x15 hand-fed with a treadle - or at least with the bent crankshaft that will accept a treadle. Some crankshafts are straight, and that cuts down on their value. Treadles can be fabricated or purchased, but straight shafts are a problem for conversion to treadle operation - which is preferred these days.

The Chief, as fine an offset as it is, would be hard to find a home for right now, but I do suspect that within the next year or so, the letterpress shops that have popped up in many communities and universities nationwide will begin to expand into lithography as the next "lost art", and I would not be surprised to see the value of a Chief 17 skyrocket. Right now, folks consider them to be boat anchors. But I do suspect that will change - and possibly very soon. Hard to say...

Folders are still in use in modern shops an binderies everywhere, so although it is a different market than I move in, some folders can sell..

The Hammond Saw is hot. I just sold one to a cabinetmaker who is thrilled with it. Some printers still use them - I have 3 and use one of them many times a day - for both printing related and parts and tool fabrication projects.

I will eventually sell one or two of the others, but no rush...

Type. Type is another subject altogether. And, yes, type can be sold and should be preserved. But there is a market. The proof of that is just how busy the few foundries who still cast type are right now. One fellow just had to hire a full-time assistant to expand his business and another in SFO has 3 *young* full-time foundry masters casting type for them. And, since they are young, they may stay in the field for a long time, as opposed to as it was ten years ago, when foundries were closing and typecasters were dying off. That has changed.

The big question about type, however is

1) Styles
2) Sizes
3) Condition
4) Completeness
5) Location - in the case or in a form on a galley

Some faces sell for $10/font, some for $100 - or more. It all depends on the above factors...

Wood type, for example sells quite well and at amazingly high prices...

So. I think I have created a new web page! I didn't realize how fast this answer would flow out. I saw your message come in the other day, but have been too busy to get to it until today.

I'm glad I did.

Next step:

1) Inventory - get accurate descriptions of what you have there.
2) Photos - of everything - the entire shop and individual machines
3) Build a web page and post it with all the details - at

This works - may take some time, but it works - especially when combined with a free classified listing at highly-trafficed - and many new Facebook pages that are popping up where you can post a link to the page I will build for you. 

There is no charge for this.

Why do I do this?

Adding your equipment to my "Presses Available" list just increases the value of the content to my web site visitors - and makes the search engine robots very happy.. My pages are updated quickly by Google and Bing and other search engines. Adding new content keeps that happening, so it is a classic win-win for both of us.

And, it works... We can find homes for lots of old equipment and in this way, rescue it from the scrap yard and preserve it for future users. And, sometimes the sellers are pleasantly surprised to find value in that old stuff that's no longer used and in their way - or interfering with the sale of a building or something.

But every case is unique, so let's give it a try. Contact me via our contact page and I will send you my email address so that you can send me photos.

Let's see what we can do to both save that equipment and compensate you for preventing its destruction.

- Alan

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page last updated  September, 2018