equipment in use at the Excelsior Press

Hamilton Motorized Letter Board Storage Rack
aka "No. 1601 Hamilton Electric Page Storage System"
Hamilton made all sortsof cabinets, type cases and various devices to make things easier for those of us who deal with - or  those who did deal with - metal type and heavy printing forms. (Of course, Hamilton also made Wood Type as well, but that's another story...)

One of their popular cabinet designs included what was known as a "Letter Board" rack, designed to store heavy-duty Letter Boards which were just a tad large to fit into standard type cabinet, but were ideal for semi-permanent storage of forms that were too large to store in any normal sized galley.
Hamilton Motorized Letter Board Cabinet
Letterboards are very handy, but can also get very heavy. Sliding one in and out of the rack is easy enough, but removing one could well be beyond the physical capacity of any comp or make-up man.

These letter board racks were often found integrated into a make up table and kept relatively low to the ground. They might hold 5-10 boards total.

Enter the Hamilton Motorized Letter Board Storage Cabinert as seen here. It can store twice the normal number of letter boards.

This one is currently in Iowa - in the collection of John Deason and has an electrically-powered elevator in front to give the comp easy access to any letterboard in the cabinet.

Hamilton Motorized Letter Board CabinetNote the power switch for the elevator which moves up and down in front of the cabinet. When the elevator is aligned with the letterboard that holds the form you are looking for, it can be moved out on to the rack and raised or lowered to match the height of a heavy, wheeled table commonly known as a "turtle", named for the company that made the most popular of these heavy tables - which could easily handle a form - or even a large locked up chase that would otherwise be very difficult to move.

This was a clever back-saving device which became somewhat obsolete during the 1960s and 70s as the newspapers and larger letterpress printing plants which could afford such investments no longer had a need for it as they converted their printing process from Linotypes and Letterpresses to photo-typesetters and lithographic offset printing...

But this one is still in use in John's private print shop - although it may be moving on to a new home as he downsizes his  shop.


Floor Space with Elevating Shelf, 43 x 44�";
with letterboard in position on shelf, 43 x 55�"
Overall height, 60"
Cabinet capacity, full-size page forms, 20
Maximum capacity, each Letterboard, 30.375" x 24.875"
Motor, 110 volt, 60 cycle, single phase, AC, � horsepower

Hamilton Catalog Page
Page 75 of the 1957 Hamilton Equipment Catalog
scan courtesy of Dennis Headrick

Hamilton Letterboard Cabinet

And now, installed in our shop and ready to go to work organizing the overwhelming amount of type in galleys -and in packages which we are preparing to offer for sale...

John Deason and Dennis Headrick contributed to the content on this page.

page last updated April, 2019