Vandercook Factory Press Inspector Chart

Paul Moxon

From 1948 to 1969 (the earliest and latest years reported so far) the names of Vandercook employees who inspected presses at the factory were stamped into the body of the press. An intriguing practice because the stamps were struck during the last gasp of industrialism in the U.S. and suggests pride in craftsmanship. However, it appears that certain models and some individual presses (e.g. Universal and SP series) manufactured during this period do not bear an inspector’s name.

To find out if your press has an inspector’s name, locate the large serial number stamped into the bed bearer (the smooth rail) at the right end of the press on the operator’s side. Then look below this number to the outer surface that supports the carriage, e.g. #4, Universal and SP series. On older presses such as the 219 the serial number and inspector name both appear on the bed bearer (see photos below).

Because company records relating to employee job functions no longer exist, the following data, solicited from individuals, businesses and institutions, is incomplete. To contribute to it, please vist the census page on the blog.

Inspector Circa. SN ranges Models inspected
J. HLAVIN 1947–69 1203628547 #4, 215, 15-21, 25-45, Uni I, SP15, SP20
H.L. KELLER 1948–73 12473–28201 #1, 3, #4, 320G, 219AB, Uni I, Uni III, SP15, SP20
HAROLD NEFF 1964–67 23463–26955 Universal I, SP15
CM 1962 21949 SP20
D.E. PATE 1968 27627–27793 SP15, SP20
J. WALDIER 1967–73 27044 Uni I
A.W. WINARD 1949–68 13511–27074 215, 32-28,#4, 219AB, 42-28, 15-21, Uni I, Uni III, SP15, SP20
S. WOJTOWYCZ 1962–73 22316–25011 SP15
C.G. ZURICK 1948-49 12682–13856 219, 219AB

Michael babcock

Paul Moxon

John Dunlevy



Number of Inspectors
To date the names of nine factory employees have been reported. Some employment dates have been extended beyond serial number year ranges through discovery of other documentation.

First Inspector?
Currently C.G. ZURICK is the earliest recorded inspector's name, it is stamped on a 1948 219 (SN 12682) owned by Lorenzo Pellegrinelli in Milan, Italy.

Last Inspector?
Currently H.L. Keller is the latest recorded inspector's name, it is stamped on a 1969 Universal III (SN 28201) owned by Indiana University.

The names of press inspectors were stamped in capital letters and without spaces after the periods that indicate the initials of a first and middle name. This convention this can be observed in the stamps of C.G.ZURICK, A.W.WINARD, and H.L.KELLER.
Contributors to the first draft of this chart reported the name of one inspector as either J.H.LAVIN or J.HLAVIN. This was due to the single period in this name being faint or worn away on several presses. A search on found both Hlavin (Czech) and Lavin (Irish) with numerous families living in Illinois according to the 1920 US Population Census. However, based on close inspection of the stamps on several additional presses, it is now clear that Hlavin and not Lavin is the correct form of the name, and thus an apparent break with custom. With assistance from Katherine Case, Martha Chiplis, Terry Chouinard, Stacey Stern, Gretchen Winger and David Wolske.
Daniel Morris has provided a scan of a packing list (1-19-65) with a stamp clearily showing the name J. Hlavin.

Alternate Stamps
A 1964 SP15 (SN 23521) is stamped "Inspected by H.N." presumably this is Harold Neff. A 1962 SP20 is stamped C.M., however no corresponding name has been found so far.

Motor Tag
Terrence Chouinard, former Director of the Wells College Book Arts Center, found a tag with the statement “Inspected by Wenderski” on the motor of the college's 1972 Universal I (SN 29621). It is not known whether this practice replaced engraving or merely documents a customer service call.
Gene Wenderski, regarded as an excellent Vandercook mechanic, became General Manager of Vandersons.

The data on this page was originally compiled for Mark Wilden's Vandercook Proof Press website, the precusor to this site. A version posted there was appropriated by Paul Maravelas for his Letterpress Printing: A Manual for Modern Fine Press Printers (Oak Knoll, 2005).

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