REVISED. The question keeps coming up: when was the first Vandercook sold? A 1909 sales brochure says the first press was sold in May of 1909. The story of that sale was recounted in a 1940 Editor & Publisher profile of R.O. Vandercook: “Vandercook had not intended to stop at proof presses, but planned to go on to the building of regular production presses, and so built a model machine showing only the parts that had to do with impression, which became the Rocker Series Press.” Vandercook showed this prototype to Chicago printer Fred Cozzens, who asked how much would it cost to build a proof press. In reply Vandercook asked if he would pay $100. Mr. Cozzens said he would.
The first entry on page 1 of the ledger “Serial 1000-1129 | Book A” shows a date stamp of Sept 30, 1909 next to the handwritten entry “A.F. Wanner & Co. for Kenfield-Leach, Chicago.” Beneath the last column headed “Our Order No.” is the number 150. The ledger also shows that Wanner, the original manufacturer of the Potter proof press, alongside American Type Founders, and Typothetae of New York were Vandercook’s first sales agents.
The brochure and the ledger proves that Vandercook’s press was a commercial success from the beginning. Cozzens & Beaton and Kenfield-Leach are among 126 firms listed in the brochure, as are several prominent printing concerns of the day: Curtis Publishing, University of Chicago Press, The Inland Printer and T.A. Munder.
All images courtesy of Fritz Klinke/NA Graphics.