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Restoring A Coisne Stanhope Hand Press

Robert Oldham

A Coisne Stanhope, La Casa del Libro, San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Robert Oldham)

While there are some gaps in our knowledge of the evolution of the hand press, one of the great leaps forward occurred about 1800–1810, when Charles Mahon, third Earl Stanhope, developed his ideas for a printing press, which was produced by the London engineer Robert Walker. And although there is some suspicion about the source of the ideas for the mechanism, Stanhope is credited with “inventing” the first all-iron hand press, and its success ensured its spread throughout Europe. [Read more]

Adam Ramage and his One-pull Common Press

Robert Oldham

The first known one-pull Common press made by Adam Ramage, now at Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. This undated photo was used by Phillip Gaskell in his census of wooden presses published in the Journal of the Printing Historical Society in 1970. (Trinity College Library, Cambridge University)

While I was collecting hand press information for my book, A Field Guide to North American Hand Presses and Their Manufacturers, I encountered a number of Ramage Common presses, among them the two described herein that have larger platens than usual. I became intrigued by this anomaly and began searching for information that might support the idea that Adam Ramage, the first true manufacturer of printing presses in the USA, had tried enlarging the capacity of his wooden presses to make them more competitive with the incipient iron hand presses.  [Read more]

Antique Hand Presses for Modern Printers

Robert Oldham

J. J. Lankes' 1845 Hoe Washington Handpress at <a href=

Robert Oldham with J. J. Lankes’ 1845 Hoe Washington hand press at The Tampa Book Arts Studio. (Richard Mathews)

In North America, there are over 1,150 recorded hand presses of all types, makes, and vintages. They range from the press used by the first recorded English colonial printers, Stephen and Matthew Daye, in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1639 (now in the collection of the Vermont Historical Society), to the eighteen reproduction tabletop Albion presses built by Steve Pratt in Utah, between 2001 until his death in 2012. [Read more]