Meet Our New Letterpress

Pike Street Press is growing! Last month, we welcomed a new press to the shop: a Vandercook cylinder letterpress from 1959. We are pumped to add this press to our collection of vintage letterpress printing machines. The Vandercook is an entirely new style of press for us that will enable us to print larger letterpress art prints and letterpress posters. 


How does a Vandercook cylinder work?

Using a large hand-powered or electric-powered cylinder, a print is made by rolling the cylinder with paper over a raised, inked plate or moveable type. The cylinder design allows the press to only print in one area where the cylinder rolls over the letterpress plate. This also allows it to handle large-format prints and create printed areas up to 17”x22” — perfect for posters! By comparison, our Heidelberg Windmill presses can create printed areas up to 10”x15”. Heidelberg’s are designed to make small letterpress prints quickly— great for things like greeting cards, business cards, and wedding invitations. Want to see how your favorite prints are made? Follow us on Instagram for videos of the Vandercook in action.

What’s the history of Vandercook presses?

Back in September 1909, Robert Vandercook founded Vandercook & Sons in Chicago, Illinois. Vandercook & Sons would soon dominate the press industry by developing the first and most widely-used proof presses that did not rely on gravity for the force of their impression— making the printing process much more consistent and precise. Vandercook letterpress machines were manufactured between 1909 and 1976. Today, they are still some of the most sought-after machines in the industry. Our new press came to us from a small commercial print shop in Los Angeles. The shop was picked up by the International Printing Museum in Carson, CA, where they then sold it to us. If you’re ever in the LA area we suggest checking it out.

Why are we so pumped to have one?

Using our new Vandercook press, we will be able to create custom art prints and grow our inventory of unique, handcrafted posters. Thanks to our wonderful and loyal customers, we hope to be Seattle’s finest producer of high-quality prints and posters. 

Stay tuned for more updates on what we’re printing on the new press! We can’t wait to share our new products with you.