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 - the Vandercook Model 17.
This one was reconditioned at the Vandercook factory
in 1924 and 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
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. In fact, this
press is indeed a Vandercook
Model 099 proof press made for - and branded
as - the Showcard
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.
And, two Vandercook Model 01 Presses - due for restoration
Paul Moxon's Vanderblog Catalog page on the Model 01.
Vandercook Model 01
(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...
Potter (Hacker) Proof Press
I have been working on a Potter Proof Press at the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead Museum in Lambertville, NJ. Aside from being old and a bit rusty, the grippers did not work as they should and the bed ran all the way out to the end and got free of the main gear, so it has to be re-timed as well. It did move
The First problem we encountered was with the bed running clear off the track. There is a stop at the right side, but not on the left side. The track can - and did - come clear off the track. Re-engaging the bed to the gear at just the right spot was a bit of a challenge and required many attempts to get it just right.
The other problem appears to have been wear on the spring that holds the grippers closed. It was a bit loose, and when replaced with a new spring just a bit shorter, began to function as expected. This was not always the case, however, because the little 1/4" by 1.5" steel pin that is caught by the swinging trip lever is loose and had come out at one time or another and been caught by the side frame of the press, bending the arm that the pin is mounted in and apparently interfering with its operation to open and close the grippers at just the right moment.
Ink form roller diameters & other technical details:
OUR CURRENT INVENTORY:
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 updated April 2007 ~ March 2009 ~ Feb 2012 ~ Sept 2016 ~ Nov 2019
Please contact Alan Runfeldt with any questions.