Origin of the modern proof press reconsidered, Part II

In a 2010 post, I examined Vandercook’s claim to be “the originators of the modern proof press.” In it I discussed presses shown in a 1906 catalog issued by the British manufacturer Harrild & Sons (courtesy of Steven O. Saxe). In the comments, Eric Holub shared images from a 1904 catalog for Soldan’s, another British firm. Here’s another contender thanks again to Steve Saxe, with whom […]

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O.C. Geffken

Otto C. Geffken (1901–71) was an engineer at Vandercook & Sons and is named in at least one patent. The card, set in Kaufmann Bold and Stymie, is ca. 1938. Geffken appears in catalogs and model brochures of the era such as this one at right. (R.L. Pelland, another engineer, is believed to be  second from the left).

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Excello Proof Press

This display ad appeared in most issues of Graphic Arts Monthly, vol. 1, 1929, but does not appear thereafter. Neither was it advertised or mentioned in The Inland Printer or Photo-Engravers Bulletin before, during, or after 1929. (Perhaps, there wasn’t enough interest in this product, and likely Black Tuesday—the infamous crash of the stock market on […]

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Two Early Custom Vandercooks

Here are two very large proof presses specially designed by R.O. Vandercook, and built by Chicago machinists Reichel & Drews, circa 1912–14. While neither press is known to exist today, they demonstrate that Vandercook was able to satisfy specific client requests early in his career as a manufacturer. The illustration at left, accompanying an article in the June […]

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The Lost Vandercook House Organ

Recently, I completed a fellowship at the Newberry Library in support of research for the second edition of my book Vandercook Presses: Maintenance, History and Resources (2011). While there, I spent most of my time perusing various trade journals including The Inland Printer, Photo-engravers Bulletin, Graphic Arts Monthly and British Printer, among others, spanning 1909–1976. As I sort out my findings, I […]

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