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Restoring Iron Handpresses

The parts most likely to be missing from an iron handpress are the forestay, the tympan, and the frisket. The forestay (the outside support for the rails) can be easily made from wood, using an engraving of the press from a printers’ manual or catalogue for reference. This was often done by printers in the nineteenth century. When Old Sturbridge Village made a replacement forestay for their Smith-Hoe Acorn press, they turned a replica of an old one on a lathe, but the material used was aluminum, so it would be obvious to future curators that it was not an original part.

Tympans and friskets are very often missing from hand presses. Although they are needed for production printing, they were often discarded at the end of the nineteenth century when these presses were used almost exclusively for proofing photo-engravings. Once separated from the press, like the treadle, they seldom returned. Here there is no choice but to have a metal worker make new ones.


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