C & P—Pressman's Favorite
By Fred Williams, Editor-Publisher
Type & Press
Published Summer 1977
If a favorite press poll was ever conducted among pressmen and printshop proprietors, there is no doubt that the C&P would win all the honors, grippers down!
Pressmen loved its easy accessibility for makeready, long impression dwell, pause for feeding plus its heavy precision construction which enabled the C&P to print "run of the hook" from a postage stamp to large four-color register forms or die cutting.
Proprietors loved its ability to run just about any job profitably with practically no "down time" in spite of little maintenance.
Chandler & Price Meet 1881
Harrison T. Chandler, an Illinois banker, while negotiating to buy an interest in the Cleveland Type Foundry, met William H. Price, son of a builder of printing presses. They founded the Chandler & Price Co. of Cleveland to build printing equipment.
In 1884 the partners introduced their famous jobber in two sizes –7xll and 10xl5 and by year's end over 300 presses had been built. Subsequently the press was built in 8xl2, 14x20, 14.5x22 sizes.
The C&P was not of original design, being based on several expired patents granted to George Phineas Gordon about 1850. This famous press had a reciprocating vertical bed mounted on two long legs hinged to a shaft at the rear base of the press. This "long hinge" made it possible for the printing surface to approach the platen nearly parallel. The motion of the platen, controlled by a toggle actuated by a cam wheel, moved the bed forward at the proper sequence in the cycle.
The press building business of the 70s and 80s was a speculative and highly competitive one, over 100 platen press models being built by scores of companies. Many were cheap, light-weight machines for use in small country printing offices. Often of the "clam shell" variety with bolted frame and a stationary bed. The platen, hinged at the bottom, offered no dwell for feeding, simply flapping open and closed, exerting more impression at the bottom of the sheet than the top. Many of these presses and their manufacturers had short lives.
The C&P was able to outlast an its rivals by concentrating on building quality into its presses. It's not unusual to find them still operating profitable after over 50 years of daily use.
The C&P sold well and the company with Chandler as president, was capitalized at $200,000. The company also made paper cutters, proof presses, composing sticks, hand presses, etc. Partner William Price died in 1895.
The business prospered and by 1901 the company added its sixth addition to its factory. This same year Chandler & Price bought out the tottering Gordon Press Works at Rahway, N.J. and the right to use the name Gordon. George Gordon had died in 1878. And so Gordon's name was kept alive but never exploited by Chandler & Price. Several other companies had used this name including: Challenge Gordon (1884-1910), Jones Gordon (1888-1901), Thorpe-Gordon (1886-1890), Straight Line Gordon (1891) and Peerless Gordon (1891-1900).
By 1900 the Rahway operation had become unprofitable and was closed down, all manufacturing being done at Cleveland. In the preceeding 10 years over 10,000 old style jobbers had been sold.
Over 18 different companies had made imitations of the Gordon old style jobber but by 1910 C&P had the field all to themselves. The following year this Cleveland firm introduced their New Series line of platen presses. Still of the old style design, the new press was available in 8x12, 10x15, 12x18 and 14.5x22 sizes.
The earlier C&P presses, now referred to as the Old Series, were characterized by ornate castings, a high base and a large curved-spoke flywheel whereas the New Series, with plain castings, was constructed heavier throughout. With a low silhouette, it had a smaller straight-spoke flywheel; roller frames and side ribs turned to the inside.
The following year President Harrison Chandler died.
In 1921 the Craftsman models were introduced. These presses, still basically of Gordon old style design, had a massive one-piece frame; four form, two vibrator rollers and a brayer fountain, were capable of executing work comparable to a pony cylinder. Widely used for halftone and fine register work, the press came in 10x15, 12x18 and 14.5x22 sizes.
Believing the hand-fed jobber could no longer be operated economically various automatic feeders were developed in the 20s and 30s. Most of these feeding units–the Miller, Kluge, Klymax and B&K were designed to fit C&Ps. Subsequently Miller and Kluge began building their own presses to accommodate their feeders and Chandler & Price faced with loss of sales, introduced their Rice feeder on their 10x15, 12x18 and 14.5x22 Craftsman models.
Subsequently all companies except C&P and Kluge abandoned building automatics, and these two companies sold their presses competitively until the early 60s when the tremendous growth of offset duplicating plus competition from Kluge and the Heidelberg, eventually doomed all models of the C&P with the exception of the 14.5x22, which continues to be made. It is still in demand for die cutting, perforating, scoring, heat foil, embossing, imprinting, etc.
Altho the next few decades may see the C&P fade into history, the press remains as a tribute to a banker and a press builder, who over 90 years ago, joined forces and entered a highly competitive market. Through mass production techniques they improved the press until they were the major producer of the Gordon Old Style press in the United States.
It’s popularity is attested by the fact that over 90% of the platen jobbers in use in the 1930s were C&Ps. It is estimated that 100,000 have been built to date.