Oldest Press
Chandler & Price, 1934
Parks Lithographic Hand Press, circa 1890/1900
Featured Oldest Press Story #9:
Parks Lithographic Hand Press, circa 1890/1900
Submitted by Peg and George Lestina, owners of IPC Graphics, Printing and Design, Manchester, Missouri

"To survive in the printing business, one must be solid, reliable, and capable of doing the hard work required, yet flexible when the situation requires it. One must be able to provide clients with value that reaches beyond the printed page. Our press has survived more than 100 years and demonstrates these characteristics on a daily basis.

Though methods and media change, the desire to convey thoughts from one person to many others in a tangible form is as old as the human species. Our Parks Lithographic Hand Press is not as old as mankind, but we know that it was manufactured in New York by Robert Mayer & Co., some time in the late 1800s or the early 1900s.

Our press made its way to Missouri and was originally used by Saint Louis Law Printing (founded in 1906). As near as our research can determine, this press was probably in use for several years before SLLP was founded. We also have one of the original litho stones used on this press to print diplomas for the Tampa Business College and School of Standard Phonography (Phonography? We looked it up—it is a form of shorthand.)

Later, when SLLP converted to more newfangled "stuff," the press was moved to a back room where it remained, patiently waiting, until 1983 when IPC purchased the company. We brought the press with us to Des Peres, Missouri, and then to Manchester—moving west in the finest Daniel Boone tradition.

Moving the press was NOT an easy task. It is solid cast iron! We can only imagine the colorful language involved when this press was originally shipped from New York. We used some ourselves! But move it we did, because we didn’t want to lose touch with the history of our chosen profession.

Though we do not print with our Parks press, this old veteran still works tirelessly for us and the printing industry. It is the focal point of our lobby. One of our interns used it as the inspiration for a short promotional piece on the invention of lithography. Our salespeople use it to explain how far printing has evolved, yet how it is essentially the same. On a daily basis, it reminds us that printing has always been a demanding profession that requires commitment to craftsmanship in order to produce the quality that defines excellent printing. Our old press is a tangible historical link in an ever-changing process that once required muscle, but has always required brains.

In its youth, our press did manual labor. There are two Parks presses in the Smithsonian, displayed as examples of early hand lithography. Now, in its golden years, this venerable retiree is a teacher. Still working after all these years!"

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