Claybourn Proof Press

This photo was sent to me by Amanda Stevenson, Curator at the Museum of Printing History in Houston, Texas who asked me to identify the press in the background. I recognized it as a Claybourn hand proof press made in Milwaukee, Wisconsin circa 1926. There should be a nameplate on the operator’s side and the name “Claybourn” cast into the base. Coincidentially, I have been working on an update on the Claybourn page of this website. Thanks to Eric Holub for lending me his splendid Claybourn catalog. From these catalog images one can see that the Claybourn resemble Hacker presses and appear to be as solidly constructed, and like other contemporary Vandercook competitors, they have reciprocating beds and stationary carriages.

Note the green rollers. Amanda says their oozing, so they must be made of polyurethane. Does anyone have a effective non-toxic cleanup solution?

Also, can anyone identify the wooden machine in the foreground?

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Fritz Klinke
15 years ago

Lex Claybourn was the moving force behind not only these proof press, but also a line of plate shavers for curved electrotypes, and proof presses for those plates, and the design for a 4 color rotary letterpress unit designed for magazine printing that used a single impression cylinder. He preached precision equipment for fast makereadies and lower costs. His company sold to the Cottrell Company located in Rhode Island in the 1930s, but press manufacture remained in Milwaukee. Cottrell continued to make these presses well into the 1950s. But by 1955, Lex, who was in his 70s, had fallen on hard times and ended up in a hospital paralized and penniless. A fund raising drive was started by his friends and the Inland Printer to help with his medical expenses. I haven’t found out when he died, but Lex was a critical player in letterpress all during the 1920s and 30s.


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