I've been meaning to write about my press - how I found it, trying it out, getting it, etc. - for some time now, but it's been a little hectic with Hurricane Sandy coming in to town. (On a side, but related, note - my husband and I, and our two pets faired the super storm well compaired to others in the DC area. Our lights only flickered a couple times, and we only had a couple broken branches from our tree in our yard.) I wish a fast recovery to everyone affected by Sandy!
Let me preface and say that this post is a little longer than my usual posts.
I'll continue on with the story of my press where I last left off, which was with my "midnight idea" (which I had back in late July.) As I mentioned in a previous post, I took a letterpress class in early August. It was so much fun; I was hooked, and officially bitten by the letterpress bug. After that, I wanted and needed to learn more. I found all these great resources that tied my letterpress craving over till my next scheduled class. One of those sites was Briar Press. Oh my goodness, it is a wonderful site for those who love letterpress. I spent most of my time browsing through the classifieds section, searching for any tabletop presses. Pretty much the month of August was devoting to finding a press. From my research, I was on the hunt for a 6.5x10 C&P Pilot tabletop press. I found a couple that interested me, but they were either too far away or had too much needed repairs for this novice to handle. I wasn't having any luck finding a C&P Pilot. But persistance is key!
I came across two 6.5x10 Craftsman Superior tabletop presses! (The Craftsman Superiors were modeled after the C&P Pilot presses.) The first one I came across was located in a small PA town, about 20 minutes from where I went to college - it needed new roller cores, the price was right, and appeared to be in good operating condition. The other press I found was located in Brooklyn - it was out of my preferred price range, but came with a few supplies, and was in good operating condition.
Letterpresses go fast. If they are in good operating condition, they will not be on Briar Press for long. I emailed both sellers, and luckily both presses were still available. The Brooklyn press really interested me for some reason, however the seller said that he only sells his presses to those who get to try them out first. Fate was working its magic though, because my husband and I were taking a weekend trip to Montauk, which is on the opposite end of Brooklyn on Long Island, for a Disabled Sports USA event.
As for the other press, fate was working its magic for that one as well. My husband and I had tickets to the Penn State vs. Navy football game on September 15th. We figured we could go check out the other press then.
The week leading up to our Montauk trip, I was planning on how our weekend would pan out so that I could go see the press in Brooklyn. On the way to the BWI airport, my husband and I were going over the pros and cons for each of the presses. Did I want to deal with new rollers with the PA press? Would that be too complicated? Or did I want to spend close to $3,000 for the ready-to-use press from Brooklyn? Before we even made it to the airport, I had my decision, which is actually quite a feat. I am HORRIBLE when it comes to making decisions. I over analyze nearly everything. I decided against the Brooklyn press. It really came down to the money, I just didn't want to spend that much money on a letterpress.
A couple weeks after our trip to Montauk, and after the Penn State vs. Navy game, my husband and I headed north to Bellefonte, a quaint little town outsite of State College. The couple I bought my press from taught me a lot about my new tabletop press. I got to try out my new press in their basement print shop, and she was exactly what I was looking for. I happily named her "Bellefonte Press."