As you perhaps know, I've been wanting to get a bigger press for a while now. Ideally I want a Golding Pearl #11 or similar as it's the only treadle press that has a small enough footprint to fit into the tiny Brooklyn apartment I call home. Of course presses of that size are pretty popular and therefore scarce in the New York Metropolitan area. I haven't yet found one, but I'm going to keep looking.
In the meantime, fortune has paid me a visit from another corner. A friend of mine was over a few weeks ago, saw my press and said that his mother has a press just like mine but bigger. And she wants to get rid of it. I may have pounced on him like a cheetah with visions of 6x10s: pilots, sigwalts and kelseys dancing in my head. Long story short, I got in touch with his mother, the press is a 6x10 Kelsey Excelsior (exactly like mine but bigger, just as my friend said), and she said I could pick it up from her in Saugerties, NY. Now I must admit that I was kind of hoping it would be a Sigwalt, but you know, a bigger press is a bigger press, my Kelsey has served me well despite the undeserved bad rap it gets from printers with big fancy presses, and most importantly free is free (well free plus car rental and rollers).
Basically the current plan is to get the new Kelsey in working order, sell my current little press to recoup the cost of rollers, etc. Save the rest of that money until such time as I can find a Pearl or similar and then sell the larger Kelsey to finance the rest of the Pearl purchase. I think it's a pretty good plan so if you have or hear about a Pearl, give me a call! Or, if you want to buy a lovely 5x8 Kelsey also give me a call.
We (me and the long-suffering boyfriend whose muscle and navigation skills are ruthlessly taken advantage of - is it awful that I'm scared to drive in NYC alone?) went to pick up the press last weekend. Since we were already going to drive North, I decided that we would go from Saugerties to Chicopee, MA and have John Barrett take a look at my new acquisition. We drove up to Saugerties on Friday evening and picked up the press, and while we were there looked at my friend's mother's new acquisition, some sort of crazy old etching type press. I took some pictures of it, which I'll post here and on the Letpress listserv later since she wants more information about it. Then we had a very nice dinner at a little cafe in Saugerties and picked up a bottle of wine to drink later at the hotel. We needed a screw top bottle, and the wine shop had two choices, one of which was called the Excelsior! How auspicious is that? So we got the other bottle. No, that's a lie.
Then, with the snow beginning to fall, we headed up the interstate to Massachusetts so that we could be at Letterpress Things first thing Saturday morning. It's important to note that there had been no forecast of snow in the weather report, but boy did it snow. The snow forecast is something I check before driving anywhere because I grew up mostly in TEXAS and therefore have NO EXPERIENCE driving in SNOW. Now I do. It took us about 3 hours to get to West Springfield instead of 2, and I was briefly concerned that my knuckles would forever remain white and the look of terror might never come off my face, but we got in okay.
The snow drive of terror was well worth it though because we got to Letterpress Things pretty close to the 9am opening time and had John all to ourselves for over an hour before anyone else showed up. John poked and prodded the press while I anxiously looked on but it turns out that the press is in pretty good shape. It needs new rollers, cores and trucks, which I've ordered from NA Graphics. The bed of the press is missing this little tab that John's going to try to get machined, and I left the press with him for that and a good tune-up. The only other problem is that the press came with 2 Kelsey 6x10 roller hooks and springs and 2 Kelsey 5x8 roller hooks and springs. They are not compatible, and I'm having some trouble locating 2 more 6x10 ones. John actually has 2 roller hooks but no springs, so I've tried to buy either 2 sets of both hooks and springs or just 2 springs, but neither NA Graphics nor Dave Churchman have any in stock. I sent an email to Rich's friend at the Excelsior Press and I need to post on Briar Press or the listserv, but it isn't that big a deal. I can always buy the 2 hooks John has and he and Glendon feel that it'll be pretty simple to order the proper spring from a spring manufacturer?!
So we'll head back up to Letterpress Things in about a month to pick up the press and this half height 2/3 type cabinet that I kind of accidentally bought and whatever else I may accidentally buy. That will be the weekend of my birthday however, so it's okay. Honestly, if I'm going to undertake the expense of renting a car and driving up there, it only makes sense to spend some money while I'm there. That's right ladies and gentlemen: buy more to save - the great American way! This time I did pretty well: a free press, a lot of spacing of various sizes, some really cheap paper, two blank type cases, three caps cases, and a couple old cuts. Not too extravagant.