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
Our Vandercook Model 4 is featured
on the second half of our print shop hand press video.
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
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
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
Vandercook Model 4 would look like this one from Paul Moxon's
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
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:
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