Thursday, August 23, 2007

Brown Birds...

I recently posted the above notecards in my Etsy store, and they sold within hours. I'm learning that birds are a very popular motif. At the craft fair I showed at last month, the bird cards were the first to go. Hmmm... I have some more notecard sets (non bird-related) to post on Etsy tonight so we'll see how they do.

Things have been very busy around the studio this week, and it's been fun trying keep everything in order. Wedding invitations, business cards, a provincial newsletter, and a national magazine that I do the design and layout for just went off to the printers. In terms of my design work, I can smell Fall in the air as my regular clients and new ones get prepared for September and the "back to work" rush.

The cleaning of the C&P is almost complete, and I managed to find an online "parts manual" for putting everything back together. It seems the manual was last printed in the 1950s, so it will be fun to use. We've recruited our friend Harold (a firefighter) to help us put the platen section (see below left) of the press back on the base. It weighs about 200 lbs, so my husband and I need an extra set of hands.

If everything goes as planned, I could possibly be printing within a week or two (crossing fingers). I then need to get my rump in gear and get working on the new stationery for the holidays and upcoming craft/art sales I plan to attend. I will also likely participate in Portobello West sometime this Fall.

In other news, I recently received this email from Jane asking for advice:

Hello, I have a few questions regarding the C & P letterpress that you recently acquired. I also recently bought the same size C & P letterpress from a listing on When I got to the person's place to see it was in good condition, everything seemed to be fine except that it wouldn't turn on. The seller is willing to knock the price down, but do you know how and where I would start so that I could find out what is wrong? I don't want to take a broken machine if it's unfixable. Also, I have to take the machine apart to bring it home. Which parts should I leave on the press and which parts are the easiest to take off and put back together? I do have to clean it once I bring it home so I would like the best possible recommendation, if any.


Jane - I'm guessing by "turn on" you mean that the motor wouldn't run? I have to assume that's what you meant, because the press itself doesn't turn on, it only works by rotation of the flywheel or pumping of the foot treadle. The motor the person might have the C&P on could just be worn out or dead, and really doesn't affect the overall functioning of press itself (the motor just does the physical work for you).

In my humble opinion, I would be more worried about whether the C&P works without motor power. Did you see it function at all? Did the seller show you the press in action, maybe by printing a sample to show you? Does the press have any cracks, welds, or obvious damage? The motor can always be replaced, but a press in bad shape is not a good thing.

As far as the price goes, again in my opinion, the value of the press totally depends on what the buyer is willing to pay. I really see the sale of letterpress equipment as a buyers market in the sense that the cost (physical and financial) to move equipment is so high, that it strongly affects what a buyer is willing to pay for the press itself. I have heard of many people who have gotten their floor model presses for free or for a few hundred dollars, because the people selling wanted to get rid of them, and the people buying knew what a pain it would be to extract the press from the seller's place and get it home. In my case, I paid more to move my C&P than I did to buy it.

As for removing parts, many can be removed - flywheel, platen, treadle, etc., but this isn't to say that everyone should undertake this task. I had the parts of my press removed because if I hadn't, it wouldn't have fit in my house. And, the seller knew what he was doing and had taken the press apart before - so he did it for me. For advice on removing parts, I would post in the forum or search the archives for instructions.

As for cleaning your press - it depends on the condition. Some people buy presses from sellers that loved them and babied them. Some presses are bought after they've been sitting in a garage for decades. Unless your press needs the cleaning, why bother? I'm doing a light cleaning on my C&P just to get rid of some of the dust and surface grease on non-moving parts. It doesn't even really need that - it's just my preference.

Best of luck to you Jane, and happy letterpressing!


  1. Where do you get your envelopes? I am loving that brown one!

  2. Hi,

    I recently got a C&P OS 12x18. Can you tell me where you found the parts manual? Also, where do you get your paper and envelopes?



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