Equipment in use at the Excelsior Press Museum Print Shop

Kelsey Company History

1874 Kelsey Excelsior
1874 Excelsior
The Kelsey Company
Manufacturers of the Excelsior Press
1974 Excelsior

The Kelsey Press Company est. 1873 

This web site is named after my print shop - The Excelsior Press. When I began printing in 1962 - when I was 12 years old, I took the name for my shop from the only press I had at the time - a little 3x5 Kelsey Excelsior Press. For me, at the time, the Kelsey Company was the source of printing presses, supplies and information. The famous Kelsey catalog was my own personal "wish book". I would read the pages and dream about someday being able to use the items I saw listed in their catalog.

The Kelsey Printer's Guide was my first text on printing and got me started.
A lot has transpired since then, and printing technology has evolved remarkably. Letterpress printing as a trade has faded from the commercial realm but is back now as an honored craft - and continues to give many hobby printers great pleasure - and small business entrepreneurs a new market to explore.

William Kelsey's vision of "a boy and his press" followed by 100 years of The Kelsey Company history - and all of those old Kelsey presses being restored and put back into service today -  energizes a new interest in this old craft of letterpress printing.

The Kelsey Company manufactured the Excelsior Press for about 100 years (1873 through 1994) with minor changes. Since it was the inspiration for my print shop name, I have kept my original 3x5 and have collected a few more over the years. They have come from garages, basements and print shops. As we encounter duplicates - as well as broken presses and parts, we will be offering Kelsey Presses & re-constituted starter kits for sale from this web site as well.

Collection of Kelsey Table Top Printing Presses

An old photo of some of our Kelsey Presses.

Oru Current Collection of Kelsey Table Top Printing Presses

Our Current Collection - 2018

The Press Shed  Kelsey Table Top Printing Presses

The Press Shed - presses awaiting restoration - 2019

Kelsey Press Company Catalog 1929

1929-1930 Kelsey Catalog Cover

Kelsey Company Sign - Paul Aken, Rich Polinski, Sarah Smith

Paul Aken of Chicago is the now proud owner of the original Kelsey Company sign, bought at auction in 2009. The sign visited with us for a while after the auction, but is now posted in Paul's letterpress musem in Chicago.

here, Rich Polinski (Front Room Press), Paul Aken (Letterpress Museum) and Sara Smith (Smith Letterpress) pose at The Excelsior Press with this classic sign.

(see blogpost for March 15, 2009)

Pete Wilson worked at the Kelsey Company

Pete Wilson worked at the Kelsey Company from 1972-1979, making presses, casting type and organizing the production process. He visited our collection in October of 2009 and gave us some advice on how to fabricate the replacement parts needed by a new crop of Kelsey press printers.

blog entry for October 25, 2009)

A Message Received from former Kelsey Company Employee Eric Batty
December, 2009

Eric Batty was hired by Glover Snow to work for the Kelsey Company after serving in the Navy during WWII.

At about the same time, Gene Mosher joined the company as Glover Snow's assistant, but would succeed Mr. Snow as manager and later own the Kelsey Company.
He continues to support our efforts here at the Excelsior Press Museum Print Shop to this day. (August, 2010)

in his own words:

"I was born in 1927 and when quite young acquired a Kelsey Press. I did tickets and invitations, etc. I also worked in a print shop in Massachusetts. After a stint in the Navy during World War II I came back to Mass. The woolen mills started to move south and there was an employment problem.

One Monday morning in 1948 I drove to Meriden, Connecticut and applied for a job at Kelsey. This was the time when Mr. Glover Snow was the head man and Gene Mosher was his assistant. By 10:00 a.m. I had a job in the print shop. The only employee in the shop was a man named Steve.

My reason for writing this is to tell just how ethical this company was. When they sent out samples that they said were printed on a 3 x 5 press...they were. I know because I printed them and all the other sizes also.

We had a saw that we used to cut down leads and slugs for sale in the catalog. One of the most ethical thing that they did was to have Steve price the items for the catalog. He would be given the price that they paid for it and just add their standard mark-up. If they got a good buy, so did the customer.

We also had two Mehile V36's. These were used to print the catalog and other items such as letterheads and envelopes. By the way, the catalog was all hand set. I know that elsewhere in the building they had a Monotype Caster to make their New England Type. I don't know who ran it but there were two ladies who packaged the type and split the American Type Foundry fonts into smaller packages.

All in all my length of stay at Kelsey taught me to become a very ethical person. "

Eric Batty
Summerfield, FL
December, 2009

Kelsey Company Ad- archived by David Rose

The Ad that launched a thousand print shops -

from David Rose' Introduction to Letterpress Printing

Watch for notes from my "Conversations with Gene Mosher - 2010" - coming soon.