& Price Pilot platen press with new feed
Cleveland Type Foundry

Pilot Press

Chandler & Price Pilot Platen Press -


Before Chandler & Price began producing the popular Pilot Press, it was called The No. 2 Standard Job Press, and was designed, patented and produced by Henry H. Thorp of the Cleveland Type Foundry in Ohio. This press was later manufactured by Chandler & Price and evolved in the Chandler & Price New Series Pilot which was later re-produced by both Craftsmen Machinery Company of Boston (with clear modifications) and by American Printing Equipment of New York, and sold as their Pilot Press. These Early Series and New Series Pilot presses served many high schools and trade school and has become one of the most sought-after presses in the world today. (2012)

Thorp Pilot Press, from Stephen O. Saxe

"The Thorp press called the Standard, sold by the Cleveland Type Foundry, was the basis for the Pilot Press. It is very similar to, though not identical, to the old style Pilot press.

As I recall, John Horn has one of these in his collection, from Martin Speckter.  "

Picture of the Standard, from a Cleveland Type Foundry specimen book:

- Stephen O. Saxe

ATF Pilot Press, from Stephen O. Saxe

In 1892, American Type Founders acquired the Cleveland Type Foundry as part of their acquisition & consolidation of many independent foundries into ATF. Apparently, they also acquired CTF's rights to the "Standard" Press patented by Mr. Thorp.

According to notes shared by Stephen O. Saxe, ATF offered the C&P Pilot in their catalog of 1897. It also offered an ink fountain, an option which we have not yet seen anywhere else in our research. This Chandler & Price Pilot, sold by ATF, is virtually identical to the press sold as the No. 2 Standard by the Cleveland Type Foundry. We currently have 4 of these presses in our collection; one will remain as a permanent part of the collection, the three duplicates will be restored for others to use and care for and will hopefully remain in service for another 100++ years.

When Chandler & Price announced their "New Series" of free-standing Platen Job Presses (8x12, 10x15, 12x18, 14x22) to the commercial market in 1914, they continued to promote what we know as the "Early Series" Pilot as the only bench-top press offered.

Some time later, they redesigned the Thorp Pilot as The Chandler & Price "New Series" Pilot and sold them to nearly every high school and trade school print shop in the country.

"When I attended high school in the mid-1960's it was a New Series Pilot that was used by first-year printing students. When letterpress was removed from the Graphic Arts curriculum, the Pilot was unceremoneously thrown into the trash dumpster..." - AR

(added 9/10/14)
The Inland Printer, Volume 38 December, 1906

"The H.H. Thorp Manufacturing Company, whose business was the manufacturing of Gordon presses and other printing appliances, incorporated as the Cleveland Type Foundry in 1881."

It went out of existence in 1892 when it was sold to American Type Founders.

H. T. Chandler, a retired banker and one-third investor in CTF, when deprived of returns on his investment in CTF, partnered with William Price and founded a competing printing press manufacturing business. The Chandler & Price Company soon eclipsed nearly all competing manufacturers of hand-fed platen presses and survived, building these same hand-fed presses until 1964.

"In 1905, Chandler & Price purchased the name, good will and plant of George Phineas Gordon, the inventor of the Gordon Presses."

C&P - and other similar - hand presses were generically referred to a "Gordon Presses"

Interesting note found in the IP article:
The Barth Foundry Type Caster, made famous by ATF was actually designed by Henry Barth, the principal owner of the Cincinnati Type Foundry prior to it's acquisition by ATF, (most likely between 1890 and 1900).

and, there's more...

The Missing Link? Cleveland GordonH.H. Thorp also manufactured a larger platen press. Although the company was named H.H. Thorp, this "Cleveland Gordon" raises some interesting questions...

Could this be the press that we know as the 8x12 Chandler & Price?

Who made the Cleveland Gordon platen press - and when?
Update:  Apparently, according to Elizabeth Harris1 who cites Harold Sterne2, Thorp made this press - he owned the Cleveland-Gordon Press Company. There's also more to add about the Thorp-Chandler-Price relationship. Interesting...

Information presented on this work-in-progress web page has been acquired from our own research as well as the invaluable input of the letpress users group - with particularly valuable information and images from the collection of acknowledged printing historian, Stephen O. Saxe.

1 - Elizabeth Harris - Personal Impressions: The Small Printing Press in Nineteenth-century America
2 - Harold Sterne - Catalog of Nineteenth Century Platen Presses