Equipment in use at the Excelsior Press Museum Print

A Washington Hand Press

awaiting reassembly


We are posting these photos - with possibly more to come - to assist these folks in getting the press back together and operational. We are also looking for a Washington Hand Press specialist in the Dallas area who may be able to help them in this goal.
The Washington Hand Press is a style defined by the cam-action impression lever. There were many models made - by many manufacturers- for many years. But most of which have survived were never intended to be used for production work.

The Washington Hand Press - w/ partsThe Washington Hand Press survived into the 20th century mostly as a proofing press used by engravers to check their work. 

This press we have here was made by The Cincinatti Type Foundry, is in pieces and was recently acquired by a museum in Texas. If it was used as a proofing press, it may never have had a registration frisket attached, as would be used for general printing.

The large cylinder to the left of the press on the floor appears to be the cylinder from an old gravity proof press - not part of the Washington Press. The smaller wooden drum, however appears to have been part of the mechanism that would move the bed under the platen. The rails beneath the press would mount on the obvious support rails above it, but would also have a third leg that will mount through the hole seen in the cross piece in the foreground. However, we do not see the bed itself. Perhaps its elsewhere among the parts.

The piece below is the platen. It will be suspended over the bed and will be pressed down as the lever is pulled to make a print.

The Washington Hand Press -  platen

The parts below appear to be mostly from the impression assembly. The crank to the right works with the wooden drum seen above and, using a flat (often leather) belt, drives the bed back and forth beneath the platen to position the form for printing. The rest of the parts should all be related to the lever and impression mechanism.

The Washington Hand Press - parts

The Washington Hand Press - partsThis appears to be part of the paper-handling and impression system.

Note to reader: If you have any experience in re-assembly of a Washingto Hand Press, please contact us below and we'll put you in touch with the folks who need your help.

contact Alan if you can help.

UPDATE 8/20/2013

See Robert Oldham's Detailed Notes on Re-Assembly of this press


For further information about North American Hand Presses, we recommend
Robert Oldham's Field Guide to North American Hand Presses,
available for $15 from or from our Fundraising Page


last updated 8/17/2013
contact Alan with Questions