I had a very busy Sunday pulling some woodcut prints down at Swansea Print Workshop. I used the beautiful old Columbian press, an antique dating from the 1850s, when Queen Victoria was on the British throne. How many prints have been pulled off this press? How many hands have pulled the lever?
It’s not only lovely to use, but also lovely to look at, with beautiful cast iron decoration, brass inlays and large, smooth wooden handles. Invented by American George Clymer around 1813, it took over from the Stanhope Press and allowed a whole newspaper page to be printed in one pull. It didn’t sell well in the USA so Clymer moved to Britain a few years later and established a very successful business manufacturing and supplying the Columbians across Britain and Europe. Many of them, like this one, have a bald eagle as a counterweight.
Here’s a video of it in action:
A friend who is an antique furniture expert went into raptures about the patina on the wooden handle and said to never ever clean and polish it. That sort of patina is only acquired with age and enhances the value of the piece.