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The Kelsey Excelsior Press design circa 1873
William Kelsey had had a few failures before producing this press and making The Kelsey Company a success. But make it a success, he did. By 1873, the Excelsior design had progressed to this stage. There were more improvements to make, and at least two major design changes before they ceased production in 1994.
But this is the press that really got them started.
The Ink Disk on this old press looks quite a bit different than on later models and shows ratchet steps on the extreme outside of the disk, apparently to give more leverage to rotate the disk as it is pressed by the striker. The disk is 33 picas, 6 points or about 5 1/2 inches in diameter and has a 1/2 x 7/8" stem in the center.
The Chase is not an open frame, as on most platen press, but is permanently mounted to a flat base, which, when kept perfectly clean can serve as a good base to lock up type.
As with all Kelsey chases, quoins are not needed to lock up a form. Sufficient pressure to hold type forms in place can be applied using a set of thumb screws on the top and the left sides of the mounted chase. Locking up from the top and left suggests that the press would be used with gauge pins set to the right and bottom - opposite the more common trade-school technique of setting gauge pins on the bottom and left sides of the platen, with quoins set on the top and right sides of the chase.
The chase mounts in a unique way as well. It is held in place by two spring-loaded moveable bolts on either side and rests on a ledge at the bottom. This requires a small tab be built onto the sides of the chase bed as shown in the photo above.
The chase itself is permanently mounted to a 1/4" bed. Note the side protrusion - this is to allow the spring-loaded bolts to hold it in place.
Complete chase - angle view - showing all critical parts. (click on image for close-up view)
This particular press was discovered near Salem, NY during the spring of 2011. Kevin G. googled "Excelsior Press", contacted us and by May15, 2011, we had acquired this press for our collection.
It's been a busy year, so we've only recently unpacked this press and have not cast rollers nor made trucks for it. Once we do, we will continue this description of the original Kelsey Excelsior Press.
- Alan Runfeldt, Dec 7. 2012.
MORE OLD KELSEY PRESSES
Our Friend Carl Smith of Fieldston Press at the Fieldston School in The Bronx, NY sent us these photos of his two 1873 Kelsey presses:
Further Reading: Kelsey Company
Please contact Alan Runfeldt with questions or comments using our
page last updated December 21, 2012 | Feb 10, 2018