The American Printing History Association  reports on the restoring of a Coisne Stanhope hand press in Puerto Rico. (Link via TYPOgrap.her.) “Coisne Mécanicien à Paris” is the French manufacturer of the press.

During 1802 and 1803 the first all-iron hand press was made by London engineer Robert Walker to designs by Charles, the third Earl Stanhope (1753 – 1816). All earlier presses had been constructed from wood just as in Gutenberg’s time although improvements had been made over the years introducing iron to strengthen the frame and replace other parts. These wooden presses derived their power from a single screw which needed the printer to apply enormous pressure.

As tells us “Stanhope retained the conventional screw but separated it from spindle and bar, inserting a system of compound levers between them. Greatest power was obtained at point of contact. The platen was made the full size of the bed enabling impression to be done in one pull compared with 2 pulls on other presses. His first presses had a straight-sided frame and were subject to breaking due to the the added impressional strength. This problem was sorted a few years later when the frames were strengthened with rounded cheeks. Production wound down in the 1840s in England, however many European manufacturers continued manufacturing it into the twentieth century. French manufacturers included the firms Bresson, Misselbach, Thonnelier, Giroudot, Frapié, Gaveaux, Durand, Colliot, Coisne, Rousselet and Tissier. Others were Paravia and Dell’Orio of Italy and Munktell of Sweden.” Only a few Stanhopes were ever imported into the USA, where local iron presses were developed in the 1820s, among them the Smith, Stansbury, Washington, and Wells presses.

The original Stanhope Press design

Charles Stanhope invented a wide range of things, including:

  • A method for preventing counterfeiting of gold currency (1775)
  • A system for fireproofing houses by starving a fire of air (1778)
  • Several mechanical “arithmetical machines” that could add, subtract, multiply and divide. These inventions were early forerunners of computers (1777 and 1780).
  • Experiments in steamboat navigation and ship construction which included the invention of the split pin, later known as the cotter pin (1789).
  • A popular single lens microscope that became known as the Stanhope that was used in medical practice and for examination of transparent materials such as crystals and fluids (1806).
  • A monochord or a single string device, used for tuning musical instruments
  • Improvements in canal locks and inland navigation (1806)