No 49                      Press Gallery          September, 2008

Prouty
Power Press
'Combination Book, News & Job'

Hand or Power Operated

Travelling Cylinder Press

1886

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Manufactured by

W.G. Walker & Co.

Madison, Wisconsin
USA

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A quote from 'The Heritage of the Printer' by Dr. James Eckman states: "Enoch Prouty, a Baptist minister of Boscobel, Wisconsin wanted to print a small temperance paper but could not afford a press. He therefore invented one, which bore his name. It was made by W. G. Walker & Company, of Madison, Wisconsin."  A patent (No. 206,826) was issued in August, 1878.
The action consisted of a reciprocating impression cylinder and inking rollers mounted together in a frame travelling back and forth over a stationary type bed. On the return stroke, or when impression was not required, the bed was lowered a little to allow clearance between it and the impression cylinder. The original press was nicknamed "Grasshopper" due to the unusual action of the long driving arms and radius rods which swung back and forth. Many variations were conceived over the years for perfecting this reciprocating action. The 'improved' 1886 model had 6 inker rollers and incorporated a fly delivery - but still, surprisingly, delivered it's sheets onto a separate wooden table!
It is worth noting that the travelling cylinder concept was not new; Edwin Norris, from Derbyshire, England invented and manufactured his "Belper" press in 1835. The Challenge Machinery Co. of Chicago and a few proof presses manu-factureers marketed similar style presses.
Walker obviously came to some agreement with Enoch Prouty and carried on the manufacture, adding many improvements over the years. Production continued into the early twentieth century. It was very popular with country printers due to it's simplicity, light weight and modest price.

(Another Prouty, George W. of Boston, Massachusetts also manufactured a range of platen presses, but surprisingly he had no business relationship to his namesake in Wisconsin).


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Sources:
* Printing Presses by James Moran   * The American Pressman, November, 1965
* 19th Century Printing Presses by Hal Sterne

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