Horace W. Hacker

Horace Wardner Hacker (1879–1968) was the founder of the Hacker Manufacturing Co. in Chicago, which made plate gauges, and test presses that featured reciprocating beds with stationary carriages. Hacker held 14 U.S. Patents for various gauges and press mechanisms (and four later patents unrelated to printing). Like R.O. Vandercook, he was a proponent of press room efficiency and developed equipment and methods to reduce makeready.¹

Despite being precision-built, only a handful Hacker presses are known today (see Hacker census.) 1n 1914 The A.F. Wanner Co., which made the smaller, hand-cranked Potter and tabletop Poco proof presses, was renamed the Horace Hacker Co. Challenge-Poco and Challenge-Potter presses appear in the 1935 ATF Equipment catalog.² In 1936 Hacker issued a catalog showing their line of advanced presses, which claimed that 1923 was the year “a few courageous engravers adopted cylinder proofing and set the pace for what has since become new proofing standards for the industry.” Perhaps there is some merit to this. While Vandercook advertising had since 1909 published the names of their customers, including photoengravers, they didn’t produce an equivalent engraver’s test press until 1925 (the 119). In 1937 Hacker Mfg. was bought by Vandercook³ which promptly discontinued the Hacker line of presses, but continued to market the name for plate gauges up to 1950.


1. I intend to issue a reprint of Hacker’s 1934 pamphlet, Cause and Prevention of Makeready, details forthcoming.
2. In Heritage of the Printer, James Eckman writers that the Poco and Potter brands—and incorrectly Hacker—were sold to Challenge Machinery in 1931.
3. Perhaps succumbing to the recession that erased the economic gains ushered in by the New Deal.

Horace W. Hacker

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