Several people have written to me about the Vandercook to be auctioned later this month on Bidspotter. This press, Vandercook’s first production model, is a circa 1909 Trip Action High Side Arm Press aka the Rocker. (Vandercook didn’t stamp serial number into their presses until 1914 and it’s not known how long the Rocker was in production).

It appears to be complete and in good condition. According to an undated early sales brochure it was available in five sizes (this may be the mid-sized 11 x 25½” model) and a Low Side Arm version was available in two sizes. Neither version was equipped with grippers or inking mechanism.

It’s an interesting machine that might appeal to hand press printers and relief printmakers. An operator pulls the cylinder toward oneself and experiences it’s momentum more than on any other model. A bit unnerving at first and a bit of a workout, but one gets used to it. I’ve packed the cylinder and pulled proofs on the one at the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA and also on the one at The Museum of Print History in Houston.

This is only the sixth example known to the census. It’s currently owned by the City of Boston’s Graphic Arts Printing Plant, and while it is not listed among the customers in the aforementioned brochure (seven Boston firms are*) it may still be the original owner. NA Graphics has handwritten sale record books from it’s early years in which this press is somehow accounted.

I hesitate to suggest a bid on this press, but do hope that it finds a good home and that the new owner will contact me so that I may update its entry in the census.

*Geo H. Ellis Co., Forbes Litho, Co., John Hancock Life Ins. Co. McGrath & Woodley, Geo H. Morril Ink Co., Poole Ptg. Co. and Geo. C. Scott & Sons. Also listed are firms in Beverly, Holyoke and Wooster, Massachusetts.

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