Friday, June 22, 2012

Retro Desktop Printing

Being somewhat of a space-challenged designer, I recently found the perfect press for desktop printing. It actually was an eBay score, but the owner had little information about the history of this little so-called iron handpress. The footprint of my little press with sleek gold pin-striping, is only 4 x 6 inches and it tips the scale at less than 2 lbs, making it quite portable. Seeing that the press bed is only 1.5 x 2.5 inches wide, it will be the perfect press for printing postage stamps. It has four screw holes on the feet so I can safely apply pressure for those long postage stamp press runs. It needs a new self-inking pad, but otherwise looks like it is all in good working order. And no messy rollers to clean or toner to refill! 

Poking around on the internets today I found this red and green 1940s Fulton salesman's toy printing press below which appears to be identical to my own in all but the color. At one time, it had been listed for sale on Amazon. Next I found a link on the Briar Press community site where someone asked for help in identifying a press identical to mine above. Paul Aken of The Platen Press Museum had this to say:
      The 'Fulton' was originally made by the Baumgarten Co. of Baltimore, MD in several styles as the 'Baltimore Printing Press'. Fulton bought their patterns in 1934. My 'Fulton' No. 80' is green like the one on Amazon, but apparently one of the styles of the 'Baltimore' was black.
These presses each have a slot on the "platen" or the top level, which held a piece of wood with a metal insert. Rubber type was placed in this wooden mount or "chase", then pressed on the ink pad in the top level. The paper sat in the base below where it waited to receive the impression.  

This funny little toy press above which resembles a miniature Zamboni, was listed for sale recently as a Pressed Steel Buddy 'L' Toy Printing Press, circa 1937. It sold here recently for $60. It operates on the same principle as all of the other presses shown here, which is merely by applying pressure.
      The Crown Press featured below is the real gem in this group of early desktop printers. Spotted on Martin Howard's site of typewriters and other neato office supplies, this press was patented on February 14th, 1888. To see more adorable miniature and toy presses, stop by The Platen Press Museum and view the slideshow there. Sweet!


  1. fascinating, I had no idea that such a thing existed!

  2. I have a press similar to the first adorable one, and I wonder if these were used to endorse checks?


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