Donated to The Workshop last summer by Jack Welsch of Roaring Brook Township, this over 100-year-old Damon & Peets 9 x 13 press is up and running again. A team of friends and letterpress enthusiasts help dismantle, move, clean and assemble the 1200+ lb. press at its new home on 334 Adams Ave. Scranton.
This little bit of history I have on the press comes from Jack and some online letterpress archive research. His father had a printing business and this was purchased near Thompson, Pa as a second press. Jack started printing on it 50 years ago and printed part-time on it to support his family early on. The press and four cabinets of metal and wood type along with lots of accessories were in his basement for at least 25 years untouched—except by a few nesting mice. Jack generously donated the entire basement print shop to The Workshop as he has retired and moved out to Arizona. After looking through lockups and image cuts, most of the “recent” work, as in 25 years ago, looked to be for a Moscow church.
As for the press itself, I had not heard of a Damon & Peets press so after some online research, I found out they came out of New York and in business from the late 1800s to 1911, when they were then bought out by Golding. Damon & Peets and a Golding presses are of the same design. The press was missing a treadle but I was able to locate one down by Lancaster from Bindery Tools. They came up and installed it in 15 minutes. The rollers that came with the press are at least 50 years old and still work! Must have had the right storage conditions as they didn’t dry out.
Enjoy the photo gallery from Jack’s basement to the Workshop and to the first test print made on our “new” old press.
(A big thanks to all my helpers, Cole Hastings, Frank Kulas Jr., Paul Van Atta, Melissa Wollmering, Gary Irwin, Chris Stine, Mitch Frear and Eric Lansberry. And of course the biggest thanks to Jack Welsch for his generosity.)