Skip to the good stuff!


ISO: Original Purposes of Vintage Presses

Via the Contact form:

I’m planning on starting up a ‘retro printer’s’ business, where I use vintage printing machines to give an authentic classic look to whatever the customer brings in (so far, most interest I’ve received has been from artists and a small local museum). I’m doing research on the different machines of the 19th and 20th century and was wondering whether the same printing machines used to print letters in newspapers and magazines were also used in factories for printing brand names and things such as that. 

Rowan Gillespie



  1. Hi Rowan,

    Do you think you’ll be using the equipment? Pretty much jobbing presses (foot- or motor-driven platen presses) were unchanged from the 1860s till the 1960s, and since many newspaper offices took on job printing work, these platen presses would have been common there as well. If you’re wanting a small press for display or ambiance, a table-top platen will do!

  2. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 28 July, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    There were presses specifically built to serve the different segments of the trade: jobbing platens of various designs for commercial work such as Kseniya noted; large highspeed production cylinder presses for newspapers, magazines and packaging; flatbed cylinder proof presses; and tabletop platen presses made for students and hobbyists.

    If you are new to letterpress, you’ll find a welcoming community of printers, designers, artists, and educators. Many, like Kseniya, do a variety work: stationery and wedding invitations, music and event posters, artist books, literary broadsides and fine press books. There’s wealth of online resources: briarpress, letterpress commons, letpress, vanderblog, and Ladies of letterpress (co-founded by Kseniya) to name just a few. Workshops and conferences abound as well, the Ladies of Letterpress conference (welcoming of men) will be held in St Louis on October 4-7. I recommend Kseniya’s Introduction to Platen Presswork.”

  3. Thank you both for your very helpful advice. I don’t think I would have been able to bet that information from just searching online

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

APHA encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.