equipment in use at the Excelsior Press
Chandler & Price Hand Fed platen press
Vandercook images courtesy of http://vandercookpress.info/
Proof Presses

we have collected and use at the Excelsior Press Museum Print Shop

Challenge GP-F-37 Parts and Instruction Manual
Challenge Model F-38 Manual (pdf)

Vandercook_Model_4_Proof_Press_1946

Vandercook Model 4 ~ Vandercook Model 17 ~ Vandercook "Showcard" Press ~ Vandercook Model 99
 Vandercook Model 01
~ Chandler & Price Gravity Galley Proof Press ~ Miles Nervine Proof Press
~ Acknowledgements ~ Ink Roller diameters ~
Composing
 Stick Proof Press
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Paul Moxon's .pdf file from Vandercook.info showing all details of the 99, 01, & Model 1 presses we have here




One of the major steps in the growth of the Excelsior Press was the acquisition of our first proof press, a Vandercook Model 4T, built in 1946 and initially sold to Newark Trade Typographers in 1946 and acquired at auction, in NYC, in 1977.

The Vandercook made possible things that simply were not practical on the 8x12  or the 12x18 "Big Ben" Hand-fed platen presses we used for most of our work. At the time, we were a full-time commercial print shop and one of two local printers in our community. We used it to print proofs of hand-set type for our own use as well as for other printers. We used it to print posters up to 14x20 inches. We played with it; we printed engravings, made up funny little signs and simply enjoyed having it in our shop.  It became the most popular machine.

Our Vandercook Model 4 is featured on the second half of our print shop hand press video.

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Our Proof Presses today

proof press collageThis ignomineous stack of machines are three of our proof presses, piled one upon the other as we prepare permanent work spaces for them. The lower one is an old Vandercook Composing Room Cylinder - Model 17(?) reconditioned at the Vandercook factory in 1924. This one was donated by our friends from Watchung Laminating Company.

Across the rails of it is an old Miles Nervine Proof Press, which is likely even older.  Miles Laboratories had these presses made so that they could be traded to local printers for advertising. The main drum of this little galley press is empty, but has holes which can be plugged up with corks after the drum was filled with sand to give it weight. One printer we know had his filled with concrete, however which has made shipping it prohibitively expensive...


At the end of the press is a little Show Card Sign Press, which is really relatively new. This was actually made to print small signs in department stores, but it has all the characteristics and capabilities of a small proof press and it works quite well!



A few notes about the Showcard Vandercook Proof Press

This "Mini-Vandercook" Showcard press is actually a standard proof press in every way. In fact, the way we discovered that it was made by Vandercook is that while restoring it, I recognized that it was identical in design to my larger Vandercook Model 99 proof press - same design, same bearings, etc. - just quite a bit smaller. That discovery piqued my interest and I asked around and Fritz Klinke at NA Graphics - current owner of the Vanderook/Vandersons name and records - confirmed that he has a list of serial numbers assigned by Vandercook to these "Showcard" presses.

This press can be used to print from any sort of standard type, linotype, ludlow, engravings, photo-polymer plates - any standard type -height (.918") relief plate or type.

The special Showcard type, in fact, is nothing more than regular foundry or wood type that has had a slot cut into it from the bottom. The slot allows the type to fit over the square rods that formed a removeable, adjustable grid in the bed of the press The Showcard company expected that this press would be used to print small point-of-sale signs in department stores and such - using untrained labor - sales people, stock boys and such - not printers. To make their system appealing to their unschooled users, they developed an easy  system of composition wherein the 'printer' would simply lay the top on top of an adjustable grid system which held it in place. It's rather clever, actually, but only needed if one has no idea how to set type or lock up a form.

One additional feature of the Showcard press, not found on its Model 99 and 01 " big brothers" is a gripper at one end which holds the sheet - or card in place - allowing for a rudimentary form of register which would make this little press pratical for short runs of loose-register two-color work.




The 1946 Model 4T and the 1936 Model 099 are in the other room, amidst the type cases. The photo below shows them both, sort of... You can see the board we place across the rails of the Model 4 when it's not in use. There's a large type form on Vandercook Model 4 and Model 099 Proof Pressesthe bed underneath that cover and we want it to stay clean. Besides, that little piece of plywood, cut to fit just right and sanded and stained to look nice, makes a great place to lay my reading glass case... ;)
Helpful hint when designing a job to print on the Vandercook Model 4: The Gripper Margin is 36 points. Make sure you allow at least 1/2" for the gripper to hold the sheet. Also: proof presses tend to "slap" the sheet at the far end. It helps to have some image - even just a point dot at the far end to control smearing of the text at the tail end of the sheet.




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Vandercook_Model_4_Proof_Press_1946

Our Vandercook Model 4 would look like this one from Paul Moxon's Vandercook website if we ever get it fully restored to like new condition. Currently, that work is in process - although it's in perfect working order and is used regularly, it's still waiting for that complete sanding down and fresh coats of paint that it deserves. We've got another one in the barn, but it went through a flood and still needs a lot of work before it will go back into operation.



In addition, as of 3/10/09, we have just collected a Vandercook Model 01 which we will be restoring as soon as we can get to it.


And, for Paul's review, here are the serial number plates for the three Vandercooks currently in operation in our shop:

Composing Room Cylinder - No 17 serial number 992086
According to Paul Moxon, the 99 is a prefix that indicates that the press was reconditioned at the factory. So the original serial number would have been 2086. Ours was reconditioned in 1924, so it appears to have originally been built prior to then.


Composing Room Cylinder serial number  

and the Vandercook Model 99 - serial number 03625 made in 1936.



Well, that's all for now. This is just a quick page I threw up tonight to show Paul the photos I took the other day. I'll flesh it out and make it worth reading another evening....

I'll also get the sn of the other Vandercook and the Challenge presses out in the barn.

Please contact Alan Runfeldt with other questions.


Ink form roller diameters & other technical details:

Press form roller diameterGripper Margin
Vandercook Model 4 Proof Press
2 7/16" 36 points - 1/2"
Vandercook Model 17 Proof Press 2 1/4"
Challenge GP Proof Press - form rollers 3"


 

Acknowledgements

We wish to acknowledge the information and support we have had from Fritz Klinke of NA Graphics and Vandercook expert Paul Moxon, http://vandercookpress.info/, keepers of the flame, so to speak, without whose help this page would be much less informative. NA Graphics is current owner of the Vandercook name, supplier of Vandercook parts and supplies and achivist of Vandercook production records. Paul Moxon maintains a very comprehensive Vandercook website - which includes a registry of owners and the current location of Vandercook and other proof presses.


Challenge GP-F-37 Parts and Instruction Manual       ~       Challenge Model F-38 Manual (pdf)
Paul Moxon's VandercookPress.info - THE Proof Press web site and forum
David Rose' Vandercook Page - with helpful links & press specifications
page last updated April 10, 2007 March 22, 2009 February, 2012


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