What to do when you find an old printing press
in your garage or basement...
Subject: old printing press and paper cutter
Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2002 08:59:44 EDT

We have an old chandler and price printing press that was my fathers. My father died in 1985 and my mother is very sick. There is also an old paper cutter down the basement. I was just wondering if you could tell me if it is worth anything to anyone. If you could tell me anything I would really appreciate it. 


Gus - 

Yes, your press and cutter are worth something to someone. The only trick is to find that someone near enough to you so that the cost of moving the cutter & Press (& I assume some type cabinets and miscellaneous tools) makes the purchase practical.

Since the internet has opened up communication between printers and printing enthusiasts around the country, homes are more easily found for the equipment from small print shops such as your fathers. There is a market out there among a growing number of letterpress afficianados, and museums and universities are also offering courses and putting together working museums using just the sort of stuff you have there. 


Alan Runfeldt

Here are some questions that should get you started:
  1. What sort of printing did your father do in the basement? 
  2. Was his print shop:
    1. a full-time business, 
    2. a part-time source of extra income, 
    3. a hobby or 
    4. a private publishing house?
  3. What size is the press? 
    measured by the dimensions of the type chase (frame) 
    standard sizes are 8x12 10x15, 12x18.
  4. Does the press have a foot treadle?
  5. When was it last used?
  6. What is the width of the paper cutter blade
  7. How many cases of type (if any) are there?



    And, possibly the most important of all: 

  9. Where is the shop located?


I recently purchased a house with a printing press in it. I have not closed on the house yet and do not have any names or numbers off of it. I will have access to it in a couple weeks and can get info. I will be looking for potential buyers, collectors or any museums that may be interested as I will sell to highest bidder. All I know right now, is that in description, it is about waist high, non - electric, black wrought iron, with a big wheel to spin.( about 3ft across).
Could you help with my search for potential buyers?

                                                                      THANK YOU


Paul - 

Sure. Be glad to help. 

The important thing to do is identify the machine specifically and also find out where it's at. 

Although many people want to preserve and use these presses, they are heavy and the cost and effort of moving them is a major consideration. 

Many of us have been fortunate to have been nearby someone like yourself who wishes to find a new home for a press they found in their basement or garage, or which needs to be moved prior to a sale. 

In fact, just today, a friend made arrangements with a rigger to move 2 presses and a linotype machine into storage for a few months to give him time to arrange to bring them to his shop. Joe paid $600 for this. The owner had tried selling the equipment for $500-$1000 and two deals had fallen through. Finally, she just asked Joe to take it all away at no cost.

This happens. Time pressure, distance and cost of storage are real factors in relocating equipment like this. 

But you may have something of value and may find a buyer close enough to pick it up from you. 

My first guess is that what you have there is an 8x12 Chandler & Price platen press. You can see photos of one of mine below, or more photos of more of our equipment at

See the photo labeled: "8x12 C&P from P and D Printing, Dunellen, NJ"

If your press is indeed a C&P, you will find the serial number on the top left corner of the 'bed' - a large vertical iron plate, which likely has a steel frame mounted in it. If the frame (called a 'chase') is in the press, it can be easily removed by releasing the lever at the top of it, just below the round rotating ink table.

You may want to use a scotch brite pad or solvent-soaked rag to rub over the numbers. They are about 1/2" high and there will be most likely be 4 or 5 digits, possibly preceded by a capital letter. 

If you do find - and can read - the numbers, I can look them up on a document I have from C&P dated 1958 - It's a list of all serial numbers issued from 1874-1927. 

But, your press may not be a C&P - that's just an educated guess. If it's not, I'll need to see a clear photo - best one from each side - to identify what you have. 

Full-sized upright platen presses vary widely in their selling price, but the range to expect would be from $200-$1000, possibly more if it's something special, possibly less if no one who can use it is near enough to you to cover the additional cost of moving it.

The press probably weighs between 800-1200 pounds, but can be disassembled in about 1/2 hour, into two main parts. I will be adding some photos of an 8x12 I have apart right now as part of a page I am preparing which will cover situations just like yours. They are becoming more and more frequent as old printers die and homes are sold.

The good news is that there a thriving community of hobby printers throughout the world and thanks to eBay, there is a brisk trade in presses, type, engravings and other tools of the trade, so the value can be established - within the distance and rarity parameters I mentioned above. 

Get some good photos, see if you can find serial numbers and let's see what you've got. 

Alan Runfeldt

8x12 C&P from P and D Printing, Dunellen, NJ


LAST UPDATED 11/12/202