Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,385 pages of information and 233,518 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Stanhope Printing Press

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1810. Exhibit at Coventry Museum.
1810. Exhibit at Coventry Museum.
Stanhope press at the Musee des Arts et Metiers. Maker not identified

The Stanhope press was the first all-iron printing press, designed by Charles Stanhope. The altruistic Earl Stanhope allowed others to freely copy the design , and the machines were produced by a variety of makers in a number of countries. Interesting article about preserved Stanhope presses here.

The platen was forced down by a large square-threaded screw rotated by compound levers. The greater strength and higher force capability allowed larger areas to be printed. In some cases the applied force tested the cast iron frame to destruction, and some surviving examples have more or less discrete repairs to the frame.

The earliest surviving example is in Gunnersbury Park Museum. It is marked with "5", the date "1804", together with the designer "Stanhope" and the manufacturer (Robert) "Walker".[1]

The Science Museum have an example numbered 129, made by Thomas Cogger, 3 Wardrobe Terrace, Blackfriars, London.[2]

Maurice Audin [3] notes that the Stanhope press was derived from the press developed by Wilhelm Haas in Switzerland, which was an improvement over the previous wooden presses, having a stone block base and an iron bridge. The carriage and its supporting frame were made of wood. The Stanhope press was all-metal, and a system of levers multiplied the torque applied by the hand lever, taking full advantage of the strength of the frame. The method of applying pressure to the platen made for light operation and very even pressure application on the paper. Audin describes it as a mechanical marvel for its time.

1810 Advert: 'To Smiths, Iron Turners, Engineers, and Others.
By Mr. BRIAND, on the Premises, No. 191, High Holborn, TO-MORROW, the 15th inst. at Eleven,
The valuable Stock of Fixtures, Working Tools, and Utensils in Trade, belonging to that ingenious and highly approved invention the Stanhope Press Machine Manufactory; comprising very capital and powerful turning lathes, engine for cutting screws of great dimensions, forges with patent backs, large bellows, iron troughs, vices, anvils tapes, dies, working benches, sledge and board hammers, a variety of top and bottom and other tools, together with the iron-work and furnace bars of a 50 barrel copper, and other effects. The whole of these articles are in excellent condition, and may viewed two days preceding the sale, when Catalogues may be had on the Premises; and of Mr. Briand Castle-street, Holborn.'[4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] BBC History of the World - Cast-iron printing press
  2. [2]Science Museum - Stanhope lever iron printing press
  3. 'A History of Technology and Invention - Progress through the Ages - The Expansion of Mechanization: 1725-1860' Edited by Maurice Daumas, translated by Eileen B. Hennessy, Crown Publishers Inc. First published in France in 1968 as 'Histoire Générale des Techniques', Chapter on Printing
  4. Morning Advertiser - Monday 14 May 1810