A New Old Toy


A friend recently purchased this from a local auction and I was given ‘first refusal!’ Like many things bought at local auctions, this worked but needed a good clean and a bit of TLC. After a settling on a very reasonable price, I am now the owner of an old perforating machine. Yes, a perforating machine. For perforating paper and the like.


It still bears its nameplate too, so I did a little research and found a catalogue and pricelist of theirs from 1902. Apart from that, there doesn’t appear to be much else on Frederick Ullmer Ltd of Farringdon Road, which surprised me as they were manufacturers of Albion presses and were highly regarded.


In the catalogue there is an engraving of a  remarkably similar (and much more decorative) perforating machine, which was strangely satisfying!


If anyone knows anything about these machines or the Ullmer Company in general, please get in touch…

A close inspection showed that it was very rarely taken apart to clean or service it. In fact, many of the screws were properly gummed down with a layer of grease and grime, so it was liberally coated with penetrating oil and left to stand for a day or two.


I began to strip it down and found that the majority of the screws were quite happy to remain where they were, but plenty more ‘loose juice’ and some gently applied brute force eventually got things moving.


I was intending to take lots of detail photos of each stage to help me put it all back together, but only managed a few because it was such a mucky job. This was the top of the perforating guide plate just after removal:


It was only when I turned it over that I realised it was made of brass! This part then got a good de-greasing and a polish with the trusty old ‘Brasso’ and it now it even shines a little!


Underneath, the screws holding the lower perforating guide were proving equally as stubborn and needed plenty of lubricant and even more force. These were really tough to remove…


Eventually I got everything apart and gave it a good cleaning. Although the screws were reluctant to come out, they all did – except one which completely disintegrated! Note the seven small screws at the bottom right! Not bad going I reckon.


I’m not sure whether I am going to give this a fresh coat of paint, but I am going to replace the two boards which were very badly worn and probably not original anyway. Thats my next job…


Oh? The perforating? You’ll have to wait for that.

12 thoughts on “A New Old Toy

  1. What a great purchase! You can make your own postage stamps. I think thats what the government intended people to do when they sold off Royal Mail…. 😉

  2. I am extremely jealous! The last one of these I encountered was in Calgary and it did whole sheets (rows of pins in two directions) and had a single fixed layout. This is far more flexible. There is a tradition of Britain producing postage stamps for other countries -primarily the ones that make money from the philatelic market. Perhaps you really could make postage stamps (and money) legally?!

  3. It certainly is a lovely thing to own. It just makes one row of perforations about 30cm long and I’m currently making some new side boards with a right angle runner so I can get good parallel lines.

    My aim is make ‘Cinderella stamps’ and have a little fun…

  4. Congratulations! If the pins, and the holes underneath, are not worn and it punches cleanly, I’m quite jealous.

    1. The pins and holes are quite decent and I am in the process of cleaning them. One last coat of paint and it can all be put back together again. Let the perforating begin!

    1. I was definately lucky finding this baby! Keep looking – you never know!

      It is now painted and reassembled and working very well – I’ll post the results soon…

      Thanks for dropping by – love your blog – it’s been a couple of years since I sent out some mailart, but this may just get me back into it…

      1. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Mail art has definitely been a great creative outlet for me, of course after looking at some of your posts sitting on my desk currently is a piece of paper that I turned into a blizzard fold…

  5. I love old equipment like this. Was going to have a look into what a perforating press is for, but figured it out from the comments. On the missing screw. Can’t tell in the photo if it is brass or not, but might be worth opening up an old electric plug and checking out the screws inside for size… You might get lucky and find a replacement. Can’t wait to see this in use…

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