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VanderCook proofpres

Started by canus, November 06, 2006, 08:15:48 PM

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Hello all,

This is my first post and I would like too have your opinion. I'm thinking about buying a press. I'm a student (not grafphic design) and my knowledge is rather limited. I did it once and am very exited about the results. My question:

I am thinking ofbuying a VanderCook proofpress no 4  sn: 3216 . I have found some info at , but I would like to know if it is any good? Do you have one? Is it a good start (I think I could be mechanicly hanycaped, so I couldn't repair it easaly if it breakes).

I am going over too look at the press. What should I look or ask for or about this machine?

What kind of maintnence do I have to preform on a regular basis?

Thank you for reading.

Best, Terence

Dave Hughes

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Dan Williams

If I were you, I would simply go out, buy a vandercook and get cooking :)

However, REALISTICALLY, I am not you and you are not me, so I do not recommend going out and buying anything yet. Lacking an apprenticeship of some form, you are going to have a real difficulty grasping basic concepts behind the system. I believe people take so much of his for granted and I also believe that many people think "Heck, its just inked type against paper, right?" hahaha. No.

In other words, if you go out and buy something, you are apt to get frustrated. Rather, get on with a letterpress group, take more classes, get in with someone who uses letterpress first, then you will be in a better and more knowledgeable position to use and buy a press later. Give it six months and then you will say HECK I would rather play golf, chess, raunchy CDs, etc etc etc, and more wisely spend your money.

OR you may be a printer.


I forgot to say I have printed for 3 years on diffrent presses (none electric). These where mainly stone (lithos) and etching presses, where you apply the ink yourself. The model (I was told) is also suitable for printing stone (lithos), wouldcuts and linoleum cuts. I only had one experience printing type (I did print myself, but the pressure of the machine was done by the teacher). You would by one?

Because on other websites they where more or  less posit if about the manufacturer and presses are hard to come by and the teacher who helps you with letterprinting (is going to retire) and I think the price is fair, but I don't know for sure. There are not really much courses in printing where I live, but I am going to look for  as much information as I can be for I go and look Thursday.

Dan Williams

No doubt, having some experience is better than none.
Vandercooks appear to have very good market value. Ebay sales range from $500 to $1500 to my recollection, depending on condition. Shipping is considerable because these are not tabletop presses.
There is resale and investment value also, so I dont think you would be throwing money away. Compared, say, to buying a worn-out Multilith or AB Dick.  :D
There are other questions such as what kind of printing you intend to do? Short runs are alright, but if you want to turn out 1500 in a hurry then golly I am not so sure its a good match. Other presses may offer better registration, but you can get some  precision from the Vandercooks feedboard features. Depends on operator skill, I think.
Condition may be an issue. Check for obvious problems like broken castings. Rust, grime and locked movement can be addressed by penetrants and careful manipulation, but then thats where experience with equipment comes into play. 


Thanks, I am going too look at one in Rotterdam, so shipping and looking on e-bay is out of the question. I have a friend and we both want too print small books? (not in a hurry) and I want to print my woodblocks and linoleum cuts. Maybe yo earn some money small amounts of printing for others (birth cards,or something, in combination with my drawings). It is mostly for myself.

I learned how too bind books in highschool and a teacher at the art academy saw one of my books and said I had talent. In the beginning mostly too learn. So basically only small run (100 max).

Could you possibly  tell me what kind of a substance you would use that could penetrate cracks, pores, and other surface defects on a press?

Dan Williams

Caked grime, rust and rusty pitting are best treated using Elbow Grease. I might try scraping it off with a  sharp plate, hopefully without gouging, especially if its the bed. Kerosene works pretty good to loosen up grime. If its a rusty casting, I might hit it with a light-steel-fiber brush. If a bed is badly rusted, then it may affect uniformity of surface. Which is worse, the rust or brushing or scraping it clean?

Spinning brass or steel brushes, Sandpaper then crocus cloth on block may all be adequate.  This is assuming that we are not dismantling the press.

I have heard of equipment remanufacturers dropping entire machines into vats of degreasing solvents, then rinsing. Hartzell in Pennsylvania, USA would do that with monotypes, evidently with good results. But that is way out of scope, here.


I have looked (it is a bit rusty) but I have bought the press. I can pay for it in April and the press can stay there because the people I bought it from are on an extended holiday till then. Thanks for all the help.

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