equipment in use at the Excelsior Press

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Restoring an old ATF
City Case Stand

Case Western University The
                  Hamilton City Stand in Ohio was setting up a printing department. They wanted an open "City Stand" type of rack to hold their type cases.

We had 4 old type case stands in the barn - in pieces. This article is about restoring one of them to good usable condition.

The Type Cabinets page shows a variety of wooden racks for type cases. "Wooden Case Stands", "Wooden Case Racks", the "Student Compositor's Stand and Desk" and the "City Case Stands" as shown here and on this page.

City Stands in BarnThese are the Wooden Case Stands and City Case Stands as they have been stored in the barn.

One Single rack and 3 double racks -
  • One double Wooden Case Stand that will hold 8 cases on either side for a total of 16 cases,
  • another Wooden Case Stand that will hold 12 on either side, for a total of 24 in the rack.
  • One "double" City Case Stands that will hold 15 cases on either side for a total of 30 cases in the 6' wide rack.
  • The fourth rack - the one chosen by our client - is a City Case Stand that will hold 15 cases in a single stack. This is the one pictured here.

City Stand in Shop
These are the side pieces of the ATF City Case Stand which we will be restoring.

Note the extra details of the City Stand - the slots and runners.

It is prepared to hold two cases firmly on the top as well as a "type bank" board beneath each of the cases. When there is no case in place - or when the lower case is slid up, forms and other items stored on the type bank can be accessed.

A permanent shelf below the upper case can also be accessed after the case is put away. This is a convenient place to keep leads and slugs, etc...

Note also that at the bottom, there is a cross-piece that does not quite match. This is part of a riser (repair?) that was added to this rack long ago - long ago enough that the soft wood used had many years to be damaged by moisture. We will replace this with risers made of Maple or another hard wood that will hold up well for the next 50-100 years. Hamilton used Elm.

City Stand
City Stand Detail We've removed this side's risers and have begun cleaning up and sanding the remaining wood.

The wood is very dry and will benefit from a good dose of boiled linseed oil...

City Stand
                          RisersThe new risers/base blocks will be made of hard wood so that they last much longer than the soft-wood patch that was attached many years ago.

We measured the Stand and discovered that it is 4" lower than when it was new. That suggests that the bottom 4" were lost to water damage and these 4" risers were added to repair the cabinet - but that was a long, long time ago and the new soft-wood risers have also deteriorated and will be replaced.

Hamilton shipped this stand to the ATF office in New York City - note the address stenciled on the side of the rack. An interesting note in dating this piece is that the General Offices of ATF had already been moved from Williams Street to Jersey City by 1906*.

Unless, they continued to ship product from the Williams Street location, this City Stand may have been made - and shipped to ATF prior to 1906. - Hardly conclusive, but interesting...
ATF Address
                          stenciled on City Stand

Sat 5/11 -

Eureka! A beautiful Poplar plankEureka! "I have found it!" - For weeks, I have been searching for a nice, clean piece of Poplar to use to complete the restoration of the Hamilton City Type Case Rack for Kurt out in Ohio.... I went to Lowes, Home Depot, Opdyke Lumber; I went on line looking for a local source. I called Heacock Lumber - the mill where I got my last lot of rough cut poplar - that I used when we built the new workshop. No luck. I did order more rough cut 2x6's, but they are being custom-cut and will be far too green to use for anything important..

And then.... I walked into our local Hardware store - Frenchtown Home & Hardware - which has served our local community for many years as "the source" to find pretty much anything we might need related to hardware or home devices.... Well, when Mike took over from Gene, he also took over the space next door; the pharmacy moved into town and the hardware store doubled in size... and, over in one corner, Mike began displaying locally milled lumber - nice stuff - maple, walnut, etc.... AND some really, really nice, clean, straight, seasoned POPLAR! It cost me $40, but it is worth it. THIS is THE piece of wood I have been looking for. I could not be happier... and Kurt will also be happy to get his restored circa 1900 Hamilton City Case Stand...

page last updated April, 2019