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ISO: 1940s Printshop

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I am trying to found out what type of printing presses would have been used 75 years ago in a small 2- or 3-person shop. The shop would have printed invitations, flyers and bulletins, and perhaps even a small weekly or bi-monthly newspaper. Also from what companies would this shop have purchased paper, ink, etc. Thank you for any assistance you can provide. —Frank Caso



  1. Perhaps a Vandercock 317? Was advertised in 1938 as good “for every purpose,” and to me, seems the right size for a small shop. There’s some google images of other 1940s print shops, but many are bigger newspaper-sized enterprises I think. As for the supplies, I’m not personally sure, but there’s a list posted on Briar Press of some treasures found in an abandoned 1940s printshop here:, there are big steel tables mentioned in the list (probably composing stones), though it sounds to me like this shop in the BP ad was probably a bit bigger than what you’re thinking of, so I’m not sure if you’d need that many of the composing tables since it’s not so much something like a newsroom in the early part of the century where they’d be used more for Linotype production, etc, is my guess.
    I’m not a printer, just someone who enjoys learning and researching about letterpresses, so I hope this offers you a place to start.

  2. Well, I can tell you what one small print shop, mainly operated by one man, had about 60 years ago when I used to visit it for instruction. It had a Heidelberg windmill, a simple proof press for posters, a modest collection of wood and metal type for headings, and an intertype machine with a font of Ideal (possibly several sizes).
    It printed programs, invitations, and all sorts of job work. It did not print newspapers. A shop which did would have had some kind of a flat bed cylinder press. I know of another small shop which had these.

  3. The work described could be done with a platen such as C&P or Kluge (hand- or machine-fed) along with a job cylinder press like Miehle Vertical or Kelly B. A full news sheet would need a larger flatbed like a Miehle 4. One or more of these machines were common in practically any shop in the ’40s.
    Paper and ink were sold regionally for the most part. Paper mills sold to regional warehousing paper merchants, ink makers did much the same. Some specialty items were sold nationally by mail order, things like wedding cabinets, cut cards etc.

  4. I’m looking for a picture of the Combination Surface and Intaglio Printing Machine patented by Harry Scott and Lynn Case on May 13, 1941. This machine when built was used by the American Bank Note Company (NYC) starting in 1942 or early 1943. The American Bank Note Company combined a Gravure Press as an attachment to the front.

  5. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 21 November, 2022 at 11:54 am

    I trust that you found the patent:

    Also search these trade journals: The Inland Printer and Printing Equipment Engineer.

  6. I apprenticed in the prining industry 68 years ago in the UK. It was a small company the printing presses included Thomson automatic platens, Heidleberg windmill, Wharfdale sheetfed automatic, Miehle vertical, Miehle flatbed hand fed. We had a monotype casting and monotype setting machines. We did four-colour process work using copper etched plates. I worked in Austria, Switzerland as well as England during the ‘fifties and ‘sixties in the printing industry.

  7. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 7 March, 2024 at 11:33 am

    Mr. Lewis, thank you for sharing a bit of your work history. I will email you about developing a feature post on this website.

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