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Antique Cast Iron Kelsey Excelsior 5x8 Printing Press
Antique Cast Iron Kelsey Excelsior 5x8 Letterpress Printing Press. It is marked on the side as Model - O. Also marked: Send For Catalog of Supplies Meriden Conn. Size 5x8. It measures about 21" long in total and the front handle is about 12 3/4" high as shown. The actual printing plates measure 6 1/2" x 9 1/2". I see no cracks or damage - all appears fine. The cast iron has a wonderful aged patina; it obviously will need to be cleaned up and oiled if you intend on using it but I see no reason it would not be fully fine functional. This is the larger size of the 2 common models, the other model being 3x5 size. It weighs 57 pounds as shown before packing for shipping; the shipping price will be based on 70 pounds which is still quite reasonable with UPS. I plan on having it professionally packed and shipped which takes a bit longer than my usual schedule but my packing store friend does a great job with difficult hard to pack items so your patience would be greatly appreciated.
From Google andexcelsiorpress.org (thanks):
The Kelsey Company manufactured the Excelsior Press for about 100 years (1875-1975) with minor changes.Popular sizes of the Excelsior Press were 3x5, 5x8 & 6x10. The dimensions roughly relate to the print area of the press - and the size of paper it could handle practically. The early series 3x5 & 5x8 presses can be identified as Kelsey's "old style" presses by their square and molded handles. The 6x10 has the later style square handle.The history of the Kelsey Companyand their small Excelsior Press begins in 1872, but the development of the Kelsey and similar presses was influenced by events - and an interest in private printing and publishing that began as far back as the 1830's. This article by "The Fossils" of theAmerican Private Press Association- aka "The Historians of Amateur Journalism" gives a rather good background on the events affecting Kelsey and other small press manufacturers towards the end of the 19th century:
The Advent of the Low-Cost Press
IN 1867 OCCURRED an event as significant in the history of amateur journalism as was Gutenberg’s invention of printing in the field of literature. This was the placing upon the market an inexpensive, yet easily workable, amateur printing press. Up to this time three methods of publication were open to the youthful publisher. He could write or print the contents of his paper with pen or pencil, as did Stevenson and Hawthorne. But by this method the edition was limited to a single copy, and its circulation was attained only by passing this one copy from hand to hand. Or the amateur publisher could take his manuscript to a professional printer and pay him to do the mechanical work on his paper. But this was expensive and beyond the means of the average American boy of the time. Or, if he was possessed of sufficient mechanical ingenuity, he could build a press for himself, as did Rogers and Kemble. The advent of the amateur printing press changed all this and gave to amateur journalism the greatest impulse it has ever received.
It is true that, some years before, several attempts to manufacture a boy’s press had been made. But these were either so expensive or so cumbersome or ineffective in operation that they met with limited success. The Ruggles Diamond press, patented in 1851, was designed for printing cards and small work. It was followed in 1857 by the Lowe press, which had a flat bed, was inked by hand, and its impression was made by a roller, in the shape of a cone, running over a cloth-covered tympan. As far as can be ascertained, the Lowe was the first of its class in this country, but twenty years before, there were inventors in England experimenting with a press for youthful hands. Holtzapffel & Co., lathe and tool manufacturers, before 1839, advertised “Mr. Cowper’s Parlour Printing Press for young persons.” This was operated roughly on the principle of a waffle-iron, with a toggle-joint clamp worked by a lever to give the impression.
In 1860 Joseph Watson, of Boston, later of New York, brought out the Adams Cottage Press, the impression being made by the beds running under a cylinder turned by hand. But the era of amateur printing presses may fairly be said to have begun with the first hand-inking treadle press invented by Benjamin O. Woods of Boston, who named it the Novelty. Woods conducted a drug store on the corner of Kneeland and Federal streets, and felt the need of something with which to print his labels and recipes. After considerable study he constructed a press with a perpendicular bed-plate, the impression being given by means of a toggle-joint. Its very simplicity enabled it to be sold for a few dollars. Among the periodicals carrying Mr. Woods’ advertisement wereSaint NicholasandYouths’ Companion,both of which vied withOliver Optic’s Magazinein printing news about amateur printers and editors. Many of the boys who read these publications became amateur craftsmen in these lines. The low cost of the new printing press attracted their interest and started them on the way towards journalistic careers.
Among the notable names of the Novelty Press owners was Edward A. Oldham, of Wilmington, N. C., who in the early Seventies gradually earned sufficient funds to purchase the first Novelty Press sold in North Carolina. He picked up typographical knowledge enough to enable him to successfully operate a small job printing shop, where he competed with the local printers in the turning out of letter heads, envelopes and other small jobs. One of the local job printers complained to the boy’s father that, as his son had no overhead to consider, he was quoting prices that under-offer the regular shops. The ten-year-old job printer met this situation by proposing an arrangement to turn over to the older printer jobs too large for the scope of a 6 X 10 capacity. This worked out successfully and to the profit of both the complaining adult and the younger printer, until the latter reached the age of 14 and was packed off to a distant military school, much against his wishes.
A few years later Oldham boxed up his beloved Novelty and its appurtenances of type, etc., and made a present of the entire outfit to his friend Josephus Daniels, of Wilson, who later published theCornucopia,and became active in amateur journalistic circles. Mr. Daniels has stated on more than one occasion that this gift of Oldham’s printing outfit was his first introduction to journalism. Ultimately he became publisher of the leading daily newspaper in the North Carolina capital, the RaleighNews and Observer.It will be remembered that this resulted in his becoming active in politics, and later becoming a member of President Woodrow Wilson’s Cabinet, as Secretary of the Navy, during the first World War, and subsequently serving for eight years under President Franklin D. Roosevelt as United States Ambassador to Mexico.
With the success of the Novelty printing press other rival manufacturers quickly awoke to the opportunity. The Woods press at first was actuated by a hand lever, but later a treadle was added. It was mounted upon a box or stand, open in front to give free leg room. There was an iron back shelf at the top for the hand ink roller. The platen was forced up against the type by a strong downward pressure upon the treadle, which pulled down a heavy rod that by a toggle-squeeze made the impression. There was no wheel to augment the foot power.
Mr. Woods sensed the wide use which might be made of such a press, advertised it extensively, and achieved a large sale. Rival manufacturers came on the scene and made improvements. Simultaneously a regular business of furnishing supplies to amateur printers was built up. Mr. Woods had no use for a self-inking machine and predicted that they would never amount to anything, for, he said, “A good self-inker can not be made for a price within the reach of the average purchaser.” Others thought differently, however, and in the early Seventies, Golding & Co., of Boston, brought out the Pearl, the first self-inking amateur press on the market. They later made it into a rotary.
In 1872 William A. Kelsey, of Meriden, Conn., began the manufacture of an amateur printing press. His first advertisement appeared in theYouth’s Companionfor December 19, 1872. His press, known as the Excelsior, was at first inked by hand, but was made self-inking in 1875. Later a wheel-and-treadle press was introduced. His presses met with great favor, and the company he organized, the Kelsey Press Co., is still successfully carrying on [at the time of writing, 1940; it has, sadly, closed its doors], although all the other manufacturers of the time have long since gone out of existence. The Kelsey Company is now headed by Glover A. Snow, son of William G. Snow, one of the prominent amateur editors of Connecticut in the decade of the Seventies.
Before Kelsey bought his own shop in 1876, he occupied rented quarters, and his landlord was so impressed with the business that he entered into it as a competitor. He organized the firm of J. Cook & Co., and made the Enterprise, continuing until 1883, when he sold out to Kelsey. A number of other Meriden persons began making presses, but none of their ventures amounted to much. Among them was Frederick C. Penfield, who later became a professional journalist, entered the diplomatic service, and was United States Ambassador to Austria-Hungary from 1915 to 1917, when this country entered the first World War. He was 20 years old when he began making the Waverly press. He advertised freely, but his career in this field was short.
J. M. Jones, of Palmyra, N. Y., brought out the Star press in 1869. It used a foot-power treadle or “stamper.” There was no wheel. Later Kelsey secured the trade mark “Star” for one of his presses still made. In 1873 J. W. Daughaday, publisher of juvenile books and magazines in Philadelphia, began selling presses, and soon brought out one of his own, the Model “J.” F. W. Dorman, of Baltimore, placed a press upon the market known as the Baltimorean, which was well liked. This was the press owned by Henry L. Mencken in his boyhood. Joseph Watson, already referred to, was an early delver in amateur printing presses and brought out the Young America in 1872, a hand inking press, and later the United States Jobber, a self-inking rotary. He also sold out to Kelsey. Curtiss & Mitchell, of Boston, introduced the Columbian in 1876, and later the Caxton. Both were very popular.
In 1876 there were a number of machines on the market, the leaders — Kelsey, Woods, Watson and Golding — all having a display at the Centennial Exposition. These exhibits gave a marked impetus to the use of amateur presses. Many other manufacturers entered the field, and competition was brisk. When a printing outfit could be procured for a few dollars, boys and girls in all parts of the country caught the printing fever, papers multiplied by the score, and a new era in amateur journalism began.
Letterpress printingisrelief printingof text and image using a press with a "type-high bed"printing pressandmovable type, in which a reversed, raised surface isinkedand then pressed into a sheet of paper to obtain a positive right-reading image. It was the normal form of printing text from its invention byJohannes Gutenbergin the mid-15th century until the 19th century andremained in wide use for books and other usesuntil the second half of the 20th century. In addition to the direct impression ofinkedmovable type onto paper or another receptive surface, letterpress is also the direct impression of inkedprintmakingblocks such as photo-etched zinc "cuts" (plates), linoleum blocks, wood engravings, etc., using such a press.
In the 21st century, commercial letterpress has been revived by the use of that are adhered to a near-type-high base to produce a relief printing surface typically from digitally-rendered art andtypography.In about 1440,Johannes Gutenbergis credited with the invention of modern movable type printing from individually cast, reusable letters set together in a form (frame). He also invented a wooden printing press, based on the extantwine press, where the type surface was inked with leather covered ink balls and paper laid carefully on top by hand, then slid under a padded surface and pressure applied from above by a large threaded screw. Later metal presses used a knuckle and lever arrangement instead of thescrew, but the principle was the same. Ink rollers made ofcompositionmade inking faster and paved the way for further automation.
With the advent ofindustrial mechanisation, the inking was carried out by rollers which would pass over the face of the type and move out of the way onto a separate ink plate where they would pick up a fresh film of ink for the following sheet. Meanwhile, a sheet of paper was slid against a hinged platen (see image) which was then rapidly pressed onto the type and swung back again to have the sheet removed and the next sheet inserted (during which operation the now freshly inked rollers would run over the type again). Fully automated, 20th-century presses, such as the Kluge and "Original" Heidelberg Platen (the "Windmill"), incorporated pneumatic feed and delivery of the sheet.A small amount of high-quality art and hobby letterpress printing remains—fine Letterpress work is crisper than offset litho because of its impression into the paper, giving greater visual definition to the type and artwork. Today, many of these small Letterpress shops survive by printing fine editions of books or by printing upscale invitations andstationery, often using presses that require the press operator to feed paper one sheet at a time by hand. They are just as likely to use new printing methods as old, for instance by printing photopolymer plates (used in modern rotary Letterpress) on restored 19th century presses.
The process requires a high degree of craftsmanship, but in the right hands, Letterpress excels at fine typography. It is used by many small presses that produce fine, handmade, limited-edition books,artists' books, and high-endephemerasuch as greeting cards andbroadsides. Setting type by hand has become less common with the invention of thephotopolymerplate.
To bring out the best attributes of Letterpress, printers must understand the capabilities and advantages of what can be a very unforgiving medium. For instance, since most Letterpress equipment prints only one color at a time (unlike presses foroffset printingwhich often usefour-color processprinting), printing multiple colors can be challenging. The inking system on Letterpress equipment is less precise than on offset presses, which can pose problems with some graphics: detailed, white (or "knocked out") areas, such as small,seriftype, or very finehalftone, surrounded by fields of color, can fill in with ink and lose definition. However, a skilled printer can overcome most of these problems. Working with a Letterpress also gives the printer the option of using a wider range of paper, including handmade, organic, and tree-free. Letterpress printing allows for a large variety of choices. The classic feel and finish of letterpress papers takes printing back to an era of quality and craftsmanship that is not often found in other printing methods today.
While less common in contemporary letterpress printing, it is possible to print halftoned photographs, via photopolymer plates, on letterpress equipment. However, letterpress printing's strengths are crisp lines, patterns, and typography.
On Aug-02-11 at 12:46:26 PDT, seller added the following information:
I AM BEING TOLD IT IS MISSING THE INK PLATE, PLEASE TAKE NOTE AND offer ACCORDINGLY. I WILL LET THE WINNER KNOW BEFORE IT IS PAID FOR AND PACKED. thank you