Equipment in use at the Excelsior Press Museum Print
Sigwalt Chicago #10
makers of the
Chicago & Ideal Presses

Platen Presses
Baltimore Press
Sigwalt Chicago #10 1910 - 1962
Baltimore Press

~ Craftsmen Machinery Company ~ The Kelsey Company ~ Sigwalt ~ Baltimore ~Victor ~ Pilot ~ Golding ~
Ideal No. 5

Typical Sigwalt Printing Kit Some say that it was the success of Bill Kelsey's Excelsior Presses that inspired Sigwalt Manufacturing Company to make & sell very nearly reproductions of Mr. Dorman's popular Baltimore Press.

In fact, in Kelsey's 1938 catalog, the Kelsey company offered a 4x6" "Watson" press which appears to be virtually identical to Sigwalt's 4x6 "Ideal" model, however with a removable bed - a special and unique feature of Kelsey Excelsior models. Yes, these press makers were very competetive...

In any case, the Sigwalt Chicago Press is often confused with Mr. Dorman's Baltimore Press  (see both presses displayed at the top of this page)  and they did compete with Kelsey for many years.

One of the striking differences in marketing approach, was although Kelsey sold almost exclusively by direct mail and marketed in home work shop magazines, at different times in their history, Sigwalt sold through dealers, type foundries, printers' supply houses and, during one period, even chose to package and market their presses in retail locations - for example in large toy stores. As a result, there was some pretty fancy "Packaging" of some of their kits. They also sold through their own dealers and as late as 1957 were offering "distributor prices" to some even quite small retailers. As late as 1957, Sigwalt kits were being sold by American Type Founders' New York Sales office.

The Chicago Presses - (note: we have encountered some conflicting references regarding the 3 Chicago model presses)  #9 (with one ink roller) and #10 (with two ink rollers) (& historically No. 11)

In any case, the Chicago models have extremely small chases - approx 2 1/2" x 3 3/4", with up to 1/8" variation in either dimension. Sigwalt claimed a 2 1/2 x 3 7/8" (in some literature, a 2 2/2 x 4") form size.  However, since one side of the platen is open, corner copy can be printed on a larger sheet or on envelopes.

The Ideal line of presses included 4 models with sizes ranging from the 3x5" No. 2 to the Ideal No.5 with a very practical form size of 6x9". These days, the #10 seem to be the most common Sigwalt in use.

Sigwalt Ideal No. 5 - 6x9 Platen PressOur new "Sigwalt Ideal No 5" (?) -
(purchased for the collection 12/2/2013)

It has a 6x9 Chase, and looks like the one in the 1957 brochure blurb below.
The earlier 6x9 press made by Sigwalt was the "NonPareil", but it had a round base like the Golding it was copied from. The Ideal appears to have appeared between 1912 and 1920 according to Glover Snow's notes.

"Truly Deluxe Handy Size" Prints large 6x9" area.

Sigwalt No. 5 Advertising Blurb

We'll add more photos and info as we begin restoring this press.

It has a very interesting impression mechanism in the back and a clever gripper actuator as well.

According to some sources, Sigwalt began manufacturing these presses by 1925 or so, and according to Glover Snow's notes, Sigwalt appeared on the scene about 1910. But according to by Ralph Green, who met with Mr. Sigwalt himself in 1943 and reported to Glover Snow in 1944, Sigwalt began making printing (or possibly stamping) presses around 1899. Their smaller presses roughly duplicated  Mr.  Dorman's Baltimore line and larger presses almost directly duplicated some of Golding's Official line. Production continued until about 1960. And, although a 1979 report suggests that the (wooden?) patterns used for casting parts were sold to a Chicago printer who had plans to continue production, we have found no record that they ever did.

The advertising piece shown below was found among documents dated 1957.
Sigwalt Brochure circa 1960
Note that circa 1960, Sigwalt Presses were being sold by New York's American Type Founders Distributor


Sigwalt Brochure circa 1960

Sigwalt Chiicago Printing Kit Sigwalt Chiicago Typesetting Kit
Sigwalt Basic Printing Kit
Sigwalt Typesetting Kit
  • Tympan Paper
  • Ink Knife
  • Basic 4 -color Ink Kit
  • Photo-Polymer Plate Base
  • Flexible Gauge Pins
  • Adhesive Compressible Paper Guides
  • Leads & Slugs cut to 10, 14.5, 20 Picas
  • Furniture & Reglet cut to 10, 14.5, 20 Picas
  • Composing Stick
  • Midget Quoins & Key
  • Register Quoin and Pin
  • Chase Bars
  • 9x13 Steel Makeup Galley
  • (Standard .918" hand type available seperately)

4 Ways of Locking up a form in a small Sigwalt or Baltimore Chase
Plate Base in Sigwalt Chase
Recommended Lockup  in Sigwalt Chase
Plate Base held in place using screws only
(recommended method)
Type form locked up using
Challenge Mini Quoin and screws
(recommended method)
note use of steel chase bars
Sigwalt Chase lockup using Register Quoin Traditional 2 Quoin Lockup  in Sigwalt Chase
Type form locked up
using screws and a register quoin
Traditional lockup using 2 Challenge Mini-Quoins

Further Reading...


last updated 4/1/2013
contact Alan with Questions