Keith Stubley in Sheffield, UK contacted me about locating a manual for his Vandercook and sent me two interesting photos. The first shows a nameplate on the carriage with the model name left blank and a serial number that does not correspond to existing records. At bottom, it states that the press was made in London. The second photo shows that this press has the carriage and inking system and cabinet of a 1950s style No.4, but the feed board of a “215”:https://vandercookpress.info/years35-53.html#215. No serial number is stamped into the bed bearer as was usual for presses built in Chicago.
I suggested that a manual for a No.4 would be useful and shared our email exchange with Fritz who concurred:
I think this is a 215, though it has overtones of a Universal II that utilized the 219 castings evident in the feed table support and paper tables. Being built under license by an English firm knocks it out of the US Vandercook serial number scheme. And Paul may be entirely correct that this is a hybrid and the inking system is that of the #4. Vandercook was doing all sorts of redesign efforts from about 1955 through the early 60s to come up with a new press line that was more economical to build that the one in place since the late 1930s. I can furnish copies of the inking assembly prints that would be of the most use for this press.
No known Vandercook literature or ads show this press, and the licensing manufacturing and export records no longer exist. The article “Story of a Visit to the New Vandercook Plant,” notes only that “that some products are manufactured in England.”
This 1938 British Printer ad shows a 317 and gives the name and address for Price Service & Co. apparently a London sales agent. Soldan was an agent in the 1960s.
I have no information in the Vandercook files about Pre-Press, but there are some references to Soldans and a few pictures of Vandercook displays where Soldans was showing presses at trade fairs. The distributor for the European mainland was Monotype, and they sold in Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland primarily, but with machines imported from the U.S. as determined from the shipping records. There are many filing cabinets of Vandercook material that did not survive the several changes of ownership, much to my personal regret.
Always looking for the pot o gold, eh? And why not. I wonder, too. I don’t know which parts would have made more sense to import and which to make. Were the heavy parts, like the press bed, forged there? The manufacturing capacity was in place in England at the time.
I haven’t pursued information on Pre-Press Ltd. At some point I may do this and also find out more about Soldan. A visit to St. Brides would be in order.
I wonder how much of this was actually made in England and how much was imported as parts. Does anything remain of this company Pre-Press Ltd.? There could possibly be some tooling or a parts stash somewhere…