• Description: This press has a smooth action and can be fitted with a platen for the printing of wood engraving blocks, wood cuts and or mounted lino. It is unrenovated but functionally complete. The price listed is for an unrestored press. If you would like the restoration to be completed by us please double the price and provide a 50% deposit. History The “Imperial” printing press (4) was introduced by Messrs. Cope & Sherwin around 1828-1829. It was one of the many second generation hand press designs; it combined the compound levers of the Stanhope with the toggle-action that replaced the screw in the Albion and other presses, and had a lighter frame replacing the heavy Stanhope frame. It is not clear why the Imperial mechanism found favor with binders while similar iron printing presses did not (5). James Moran suggests that the Imperial was favored for conversion to a hot stamping press because of its power (6); I would suggest that it also has less clutter under the arch than many other hand presses (7), giving better access in manipulating the covers, more room for the thickness-adjusting mechanism, and making management of the heating bars more convenient. In any case, Imperial presses purpose-built for binding had appeared by 1832. The earliest description, in the Mechanics’ Magazinein that year, includes a plate of a single-column press incorporating the Imperial mechanism; the same illustration is used in the first edition of Arnett’s Bibliopegiain 1835, with a detailed but different description. Despite its imposing appearance, the brittle cast iron of the period probably made the single-column frame somewhat fragile (8). Arnett re-used his 1835 text on the arming press in his 1865 sixth edition, but he accompanied it with a new illustration of a conventional double-column press much more like the printing-press version and almost exactly like ours except that the proportions of Arnett’s cut suggest a larger size. Although our example was discovered already restored in France, it was made by Hampson & Bettridge in London, sometime after the partnership succeeded William Hampson in 1860 (9). By this time arming presses were heated by steam or gas, the gas jets firing in the tunnels originally meant for hot iron bars (10). Moran says that Hopkinson & Cope, a major English printers’ pressmaker, offered Imperial arming presses as late as 1871 (11); the 1891 catalogue of Harrild, a major binders’ supplier, included several sizes of arming presses which were to all appearances the old Imperial (12). Even in this first bastion of machine work, hand work still held a place: for another century, into the 1920s, each cover had to be “glaired” with an albumen solution as adhesive, and then covered with loose gold leaf, all meticulous hand work, before the die could be stamped and the excess gold wiped away. This highly skilled but repetitive work was often done by women and children, the lowest-paid workers in the bindery. Source: https://bookbindersmuseum.org/collections/equipment/imperial-press-english-1832/
  • $ 1600
  • Terms and Conditions: Caveat Emptor. All goods are secondhand, some are also relativistically quite old so first hand inspection is necessary and at the discretion of the buyer.  Goods are described to the best of our abilities and so cannot possibly provide anything greater than an evaluation and estimation overview. As such we cannot be held accountable for failures or absences in the descriptions or any other schism between description and consensus reality.  We do endeavour to make people aware of any issues with the goods we are aware of before they are sold and if it really isn't as described we will endeavour to correct the issue with a refund or negotiated remedy.