Kelsey Company History
web site is named after my print shop - The Excelsior Press. When I
began printing in 1962 - when I was 12 years old, I took the name for
my shop from the only press I had at the time - a little 3x5 Kelsey
Excelsior Press. For me, at the time, the Kelsey Company was the source
of printing presses, supplies and information. The famous Kelsey
catalog was my own personal "wish book". I would read the pages and
dream about someday being able to use the items I saw listed in their
The Kelsey Printer's Guide was my first text on printing and got me
started. A lot has transpired since
then, and printing technology has evolved remarkably. Letterpress
printing as a trade has faded from the commercial realm but is back now
as an honored craft - and continues to give many hobby printers great
pleasure - and small business entrepreneurs a new market to
William Kelsey's vision of "a boy and his press" followed by 100 years
of The Kelsey Company history - and all of those old Kelsey presses
being restored and put back into service today - energizes a new
interest in this old craft of letterpress printing.
The Kelsey Company
Excelsior Press for about 100 years (1873 through 1994) with minor
it was the inspiration for my print shop name, I have kept my original
3x5 and have collected a few more over the years. They have come from
garages, basements and print shops. As we encounter duplicates - as
well as broken presses and parts, we will be offering Kelsey Presses
& re-constituted starter kits for sale from this web site as well.
An old photo of some of our Kelsey Presses.
Our Current Collection - 2018
The Press Shed - presses awaiting restoration - 2019
1929-1930 Kelsey Catalog Cover
Paul Aken of
Chicago is the now proud owner of the original Kelsey Company sign,
bought at auction in 2009. The sign visited with us for a while after
the auction, but is now posted in Paul's letterpress musem in Chicago.
Polinski (Front Room
Press), Paul Aken (Letterpress
Museum) and Sara Smith (Smith Letterpress) pose at
The Excelsior Press with this classic sign.
(see blogpost for March 15, 2009)
Pete Wilson worked
at the Kelsey Company from 1972-1979, making presses, casting type and
organizing the production process. He visited our collection in October
of 2009 and gave us some advice on how to fabricate the replacement
parts needed by a new crop of Kelsey press printers.
A Message Received from former Kelsey
Company Employee Eric Batty
Batty was hired by
Glover Snow to work for the
Kelsey Company after serving in the
Navy during WWII.
At about the same time, Gene Mosher joined the
company as Glover Snow's assistant,
but would succeed Mr. Snow as manager and later own the Kelsey Company.
He continues to support our efforts
here at the Excelsior Press Museum Print Shop to this day. (August,
in his own words:
"I was born in 1927 and
when quite young acquired a Kelsey Press. I did
tickets and invitations, etc. I also worked in a print shop in
Massachusetts. After a stint in the Navy during World War II I came
back to Mass. The woolen mills started to move south and there was an
One Monday morning in
1948 I drove to Meriden,
Connecticut and applied for a job at Kelsey. This was the time when Mr.
Glover Snow was the head man and Gene Mosher was his assistant.
By 10:00 a.m. I had a job in the print shop. The only employee in the
shop was a man named Steve.
My reason for writing
this is to
how ethical this company was. When they sent out samples that
were printed on a 3 x 5 press...they were. I know because I printed
them and all the other sizes also.
We had a saw that we used
down leads and slugs for sale in the catalog. One of the most ethical
thing that they did was to have Steve price the items for the catalog.
He would be given the price that they paid for it and just add their
standard mark-up. If they got a good buy, so did the customer.
had two Mehile V36's. These were used to print the catalog and other
items such as letterheads and envelopes. By the way, the catalog was
all hand set. I know that elsewhere in the building they had a Monotype
Caster to make their New England Type.
I don't know who ran it but there were two ladies who packaged the type
and split the American Type Foundry fonts into smaller packages.
all my length of stay at Kelsey taught me to become a very ethical
that launched a thousand
print shops -
from David Rose' Introduction to Letterpress
Watch for notes
from my "Conversations with Gene Mosher - 2010" - coming soon.