Letterpress, print

My New Baby!

When children ask “where do babies come from?” I doubt anyone mentions the gooseberry bush or the stork any more. It’s more likely to be ‘Ebay’ than anything else. That’s where my new baby came from anyway. A super-duper-teeny-weeny Adana High Speed 1 was procured for a silimarly teeny weeny bit of money (my kind of price!) a week or so ago and I went to collect it on Saturday, along with a bunch of type and other sundries that came with it. This is the Ebay photo:

I was one of only two bidders and didn’t think I’d get it for the bid I’d put in, but hey! If you don’t bid, you never know… I probably don’t need this press (but don’t let Mrs. Lestaret know that!) as I hope to be collecting a slightly larger model Adana 5×3 very soon, all in good order with new rollers etc (Thanks again, Christian!) but I couldn’t resist this little green man and didn’t even know if it worked or was complete. I had gauged that even if the press was not serviceable, there would be plenty of bits amongst the extras to make the purchase worthwhile, and I’d have a nifty little press as an ‘objet d’arte’ to sit in the window…

It is pretty mucky, but seems to functioning properly except for a little restriction of movement at the bottom of the pull. I have begun to take it apart for a good clean as I believe that it is just ‘gunked up’  – there is a lot of fine sawdust stuck to the grease – probably from being stored in a workshop over the years. Time will tell. There is a bit of surface rust and tarnishing here and there, which is expected, but this is coming off easily. All the screws, nuts and bolts etc are getting a good soak in WD40 too, whilst all the old, greasy parts are getting a scrub and some fresh lubrication.

There is a good little potted history of the Adana company here  and my web research over the last month or so has informed me that the High Speed 1 is probably the least desirable of the range, with the 5×3 and especially the 8×5 with its larger print area being the most popular. Briar Press, an excellent letterpress community have provided me with quite a lot of information, from copies of original handbooks, to the highly knowledgeable discussion forum.

I’ve started going through all the other stuff too. There are lots of it and it is all tiny. I spent quite a while (more time than I would have liked and and more than I told Mrs. Lestaret!) looking in little round boxes:

As well as little rectangular boxes, and loads of very old matchboxes full of 6pt and 8pt type, in a variety of styles. There are also four small cases of type, largely sorted out but need a good check through. There are a few boxes, tins and trays full of pied type too, some of it old, worn and not cleaned so will have to go. There is much more that is in decent condition or quite new though, and I set to sorting the first tray…

Eventually, five different styles were separated from the first tray, with a lot of 12pt and 8pt spacing, some decorative borders and leader dots. These are all separately bagged up and ready to be reunited with the rest of their clan, if I ever get enough time to sort through everything!

There were a couple of other pieces tucked in amongst the pie. Two hand-made chases with locked up type (6pt), both bearing the name of (I guess) a previous owner. Neither have been cleaned well, and are worn/damaged in places, but make a fascinating bit of history. Both are shown here, with a reversed enlargement of the type beneath:

Well Mr. Spence, I hope to put your little press back to work again soon…


10 thoughts on “My New Baby!

  1. Something to satisfy the design enthusiast as well as the machinery enthusiast :o)

    From the pictures it’s hard to work out quite what happens with these presses. If you find the time it would be great to see a video of it in action!

  2. I thought you’d like this one Stu! When it is all up and running I’ll do a bit of video – from typesetting to printing – and post it up in Vimeo. Meanwhile, if you want to know how it works, look at this.


    It is a later and bigger model than mine, but the mechanics are pretty much the same. This is a real web gem – most of the stuff available for this old technology is scans of old brochures and manuals, all of which are great, but there is nothing like a bit of interactivity to get the juices flowing. Go on, have a look, and come back and tell me that you don’t want one…

  3. Very nice snag indeed! Can’t wait to see what you produce once everything is cleaned and functioning properly.
    Aah . . . Cheltenham, one of my favorites.

  4. I bought an Adana HS2 from eBay a while back – not really had chance to use it yet and it’s ended up in a big box in the cellar, but you’ve kind of inspired me to get it back out!

    I bought some replacement rollers from Elli Evans, but they’re really stiff. The originals were so perished they’re falling apart.

    Oh – and all the type that I have is mixed up – and there’s a lot of it.

    I intend to print my brother’s wedding invitations using it, if I can get my head around it before November!

    Please keep updating your blog with your progress – and if you’ve got any tips for sorting out jumbled type I’d be very grateful!

  5. Hi Charlie – glad that I’ve inspired you! Dig out that press and get inky!

    I have bookmarked Elli Evans for some rollers, but mine seem to be okay for now, so I’ll persevere for now. Also, I should be getting hold of a HS2 at the end of this week (with new rollers!) so will be able to do some comparison prints. Keep watching!

    On the subject of sorting out the pied type, there is no other way than looking at each individual piece. I saw a device for holding type as it was sorted a while ago on the net (can’t find it now) and intend to make one for myself. I think the key issue is how you will keep them once they are sorted…

    Keep me informed!

  6. I’ve just done a bit of conservation on our HS/1 and have a question. On the downward movement do your rollers naturally go to the bottom? The only way I can get them to the bottom is to let go of the leaver and let them spring back.
    Ours has been dropped at some time and the bed is twisted slightly.
    You can lock up directly in the bearer chase instead of using an inner chase but it is very fiddly, see the manual.

    I’ve just got Briar Press to put a link in their press manuals section if you are looking for an HS/1 manual.

    http://www.thepapertrail.org uk

    1. Hello Paul, I have just been and checked – mine is also reluctant to return to the bottom without an early release, but whilst I am printing it hasn’t proved to be a problem. I did consider that the bearer chase was too high, but although the action was a little better (not perfect), I could not get clear enough impression. I’m not sure if mine has original rollers too, and this may be an issue.

      It works though, that’s the point. Let me know if you discover anything….

  7. I have today become the proud owner of an HS/1 (mine is red) I had a fiddle and put it together but think I should now read the instrucutions too. I had such great plans to do chores this weekend, well that is definitely out the window.Enjoyed seeing your blog and got some of your maintenance replies on Briar press

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s