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.
This 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
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
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!
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 the 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... ;)
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.
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
and the Vandercook Model 99 - serial number 03625 made in 1936.
(9/5/16) We have just moved Roberta's SP15 into our shop to install a new set of rollers and prepare it for resale. The SP15 was Vandercook's "Simple Precision" style, intended to replace the older - and far more beefy -& complex - Model 4. This press will soon be for sale, but first we're going to give it a serious once-over, install a new set of rollers and spiff it up for the next owner...
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:
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
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
page last updated