The No.1 “Gem”

No1 the Gem close-up

Okay, so this was my favourite press, unfortunately it is probably circa 1920 so way too late to be in Helen’s shop but I still love it.

No 1 Gem circ 1920

It is petite but by no means the smallest. There were a number of table top presses produced for home use which were fantastic, but this is a full sized floor model. There is so much to love about this press: the combination of  wood and black metal with red lettering,  the smoothness of the disc, the sound the rollers make as they spread the ink,  the clink as the beds meet.

It makes my heart go pitter patter.

The No.1 Gem could print up to an  8″x 5″ size paper. It was hand fed and foot powered.  It would be used to print business cards, calling cards, handbills and fliers.

Fliers were an especially popular form of advertising in the late 20th century  and made up a large portion of the business for a small print shop. Today this press is still used to print fliers, as well as wedding invitations small signs or amusing slogans.

I don’t know what it is about these presses that thrills me. If its the feel of the metal or the way it is so simple and yet so ingenious. I like things that show their workings. I love the way the the parts move in unison and the sound it makes in operation.

I really wish Helen could have this machine, she would call it Jemima; not original but appropriate. Yes, Helen names her presses or rather she named them as a little girl and it stuck. If ships and trains have names why not printing presses?


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