Equipment in use at the Excelsior Press Museum Print
Pearl # 11
Orlin Van Duyne's
Twice-Rescued Pearl
Orlin Van Duyne's Pearl # 11 in cradle, about to be lowered onto trailer.
Orlin Van Duyne's Pearl Printing PressOrlin Van Duyne was a man of many interests

Although an electrician by vocation, Mr. Van Duyne dabbled in many other fields. As far as we know, he never printed anything. But we all owe him a debt nonetheless.

In 1982, Mr. Van Duyne was at a scrap yard when he spied the old #11 Pearl you see in these photos. It was there to be scrapped. A tag inside the press lists the date - and the amount he paid: .07/pound or $37.00 for the 530 pound press. That would be about $100 in today's 2012 dollars.

ID Tag - Mr. Van Duyne's Pearl Press - 1982But, like the old man on the tv show Pawn Stars, he realized that it was a printing press and that it should be preserved. For what? Who knows? Perhaps Mr. Van Duyne thought he might add printing to his skills set one day.

But he did not. He had many skills, but it's not apparent that printing was among them. But he did appreciate the printing press - and took action to save one. For that, we are all in his debt. One more Pearl survives to be used as a result of Mr. Van Duyne's decision to take this one home. When Mr. Van Duyne died, his son was left to find new homes for all of the items his father had stored in the large shed he built behind his house.

Van Duyne Pearl where found in shedIn that shed were many interesting and unique industrial items. There was even a set of rails - yes, narrow gauge railroad rails - and two wheeled devices that had obviously rolled upon these rails in one of the local mines years ago. There was more uncommon stuff as well, but over in the back right corner, was this old Pearl #11. Dusty and grimy and not much to look at - except for an old platen press hand like me. Some one else had said they'd come by for it, but they never did. I saw it, made a deal and made arrangements to come back and get it.

- and rescue it from the scrap yard a second time - thirty years after its first rescue.

This is one lucky Pearl...

On the way back to the shop, we stopped by a car wash and gave this press on the trailer a good going-over with engine degreaser, high pressure soap, and then a high pressure rinse. It took away years of accumulated grease and grime, but did no harm to the press. When we unloaded it in the shop, oiled all the critical holes, we found to our pleasure that the flywheel rotates easily, and the press moves pretty much silently.

I guess we're lucky, too.

By the way - to move this top-heavy Pearl safely, we built a cradle to support the press from the back before we lowered it carefully onto its back for a save move back to the shop.


last updated 5/24/2012
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