Ferdinand Wesel


Ferdinand Wesel (1846-1912) was the founder of the F. Wesel Manufacturing Company, which among other equipment, made some of the first flatbed cylinder proof presses. Born in Frankfurt A.M., he learned the printing-machinery trade, as The Inland Printer once put it, “in the thorough manner characteristic of his countrymen.” In 1866, he emigrated to New York and worked in several print shops. Two years later he was hired by R. Hoe & Co. as a manufacturing department head where he remained until establishing his eponymous company in 1880. This new new venture’s growth was rapid and necessitated four plant moves in the first twelve years. His Inland Printer obituary said Mr. Wesel was “an indefatigable worker, and had the faculty of vision. These combinations and his trained skill enabled him to secure results which have placed the products of the Wesel Manufacturing Company on a plane which has won for them a world-wide reputation.” Among dozens of products were stereotype and electrotype platemaking equipment, camera, type saws, and proof presses. While on a visit to Germany with his wife, Wesel died suddenly at age 66. That same year, a Wesel Electric Self-inking Proof Press” appears in the 1912 American Type Founders catalog. Only one of these is now known to exist. Later versions look similar to the Vandercook models 22, and 23 and HS27.

See Origin of the modern proof press reconsidered, Part II

* A two page display ad in a 1901 Inland Printer for F. Wesel Mfg. noted that the manager was Henry Lewis Bullen (1857–1938). Bullen became an influential writer on printing and typography who later established a library and museum for the American Type Founders Company.  The collection at one point containing over 16,000 items is now at Columbia University.

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