The Poco / Hacker proofing press No. 2, Serial No. 2P138 (ca. 1915-1918)
As of February 21, 2012, I have agreed to purchase a very nice Poco proof press, probably a No. 2 (18” x 25” bed) but possibly a 13” x 25” (No. 1) — I didn’t measure it when I went to look at it on Sunday, February 19. I thought of the inherent increasing value (up to probably about $1000) of this press, especial in that it includes the original table, and yesterday I offered $450. They accepted (original o.b.o price on Craigslist was $600). I am able to borrow Don V’s pickup truck on Thursday, and will go down myself to get it, and install it in the garage portion of the home shop. I anticipate installing a feed table with two brackets and registration, and will implement an inking roller system for even inking with hand brayer. Consequently, it is exciting to consider doing larger multi-color letterpress posters with this press, up to 18” x 25”.
It feels a bit like an indulgence, but I also fully recognize that these presses are increasing in value. A nice Poco “0” with original table/cabinet sold for $950 (even though it had a broken and welded crank). My new Poco has the original cabinet/table, and has what appears to be an early serial number (2P138). The “2P” I suspect indicates a No. 2 “proof” press. This is in distinction to the “galley” press that was the No. “0” Poco. The distinction may be more of a technicality than anything, since the ATF 1923 Type Specimen catalogue (from which the above picture comes; see also below) stipulates that the larger Nos. 1 and 2 have “correct cylinder impression” but that they come with a bed plate (apparently to bring it to type high). However, height-adjustment plates typically go missing so for all intents and purposes it remains a galley press. Easily fixed. (Not clear on my assessment here. As it turns out, the cylinder of my press is packed to bring it to impression with no galley used).
So, at this point I’m unsure, because of my measuring negligence on Sunday, as to whether I bought a no. 1 or a no. 2. the difference is 13 x 25 versus 18 x 25. I hope it’s the larger no. 2. If not, I’m baffled by the “2P” in the serial number.
Comparative pictures of no. 2s online seem to suggest that it is indeed going to be a no. 2. Here’s my new Poco:
It looks a bit barren, because the ink plate and the crank is not attached. Surprisingly, this thing weighs in at 405 pounds (without the table, which is about 100 pounds). But the cylinder and the flatbed can be removed. The cast-iron base-frame probably still weighs in at 180-200 pounds after that. It’s going to be a challenge to move. Then again, I moved that heavy potbelly stove myself. It can be done. Getting it back up onto the table will be the challenge. Maybe I can slide it from the pickup truck onto the table, then use the pallet lifter to move it into the garage shop. I want to install the old 19” Pearl cutter in the garage-shop too.
February 22, 2012. Pickup is scheduled for tomorrow in Denver, 2-23-2012. I borrowed a hand truck from Don H., will clear the space in the garage shop tonight. Jordan T. agreed to help me go to Denver and move it. There will be three parts: the cylinder (95 – 100 pounds), the bed (100 pounds), the cast-iron frame (200 pounds). Also, the table/stand (100 pounds). I’m borrowing Don V’s pickup truck for the move. (I ended up putting $35 gas in and gratefully gave him $30 for the trouble.) It was very windy today, but it’s supposed to be over by tomorrow morning. Cold front moving in. It will be 38 degrees tomorrow, but I think clear and not so windy. We should be done by 2 pm.
February 23, 2012. And so it was. The three pieces were easily lifted by the two of us. The bed slid off easily. On the way down to Denver we encountered a brief spate of snow, and it was cold, but it cleared up and remained dry for the ride back to Windsor. We were loaded and ready to go by 11:30 am at Thief’s River Press (?), 2401 Stout St, near Five Points. The sun came out as we left. Before we left Denver, however, we stopped on Tennyson to have coffee with Jordan’s friends Devyn Marie and Julia. Ironically, it was two doors down from Lloyd’s old Ken Ticket Shop, where I picked up the 1902 C&P and the other equipment almost 4 years ago. An ironic coming full circle. All of my equipment has been acquired in a four-year period.
So, I assembled the Poco No. 2 (it is a 2!) in the garage shop at home. Beautiful, well used but fully complete press. The original cabinet is metal frame with wooden shelves. The bed is 18” x 25”. The packing is nicely done, very thick with a hard rubber blanket on top. I had to tighten that up a little, and I’ll try to make this permanently work. It brings the impression up to type high, making up for not using a galley. The ink plate has the original instruction underneath, and something else that implies a pre-1919 dating of this press. There are two lines that indicate that tympan and paper can be re-ordered for a certain price, with what appears to be a date: 6-1919. But in pencil this is scratched out, with a new date and price. This seems, to me, to suggest that the date in 1919 came and went, after which new prices were established. As such, the instructions and pricing were likely pasted on prior to 1919 (perhaps years prior). At any rate, I also do believe that the serial number (2P 138 or maybe 2F 138) is a very early production year. So, if I can establish when the no. 2’s started to be made, I’d have a pretty good idea of when my press was born. Probably in the first or second year of production.
The one necessary repair involved finding a placement bolt for one of the pieces that bolts over the two sides of the cylinder axle. Luckily, it was not an odd thread size, so I found one at the hardware store for 27 cents. The press is sweet because it even had the loop wire for adjusting the eccentric bed cams and the packing/tympan sheet. It is now virtually ready to print!
The Poco no. 2 proofing press (ca. 1918) in the home garage shop, February 25, 2012:
2”P” or maybe 2”F”? (#138 is an early production number)
The Chestnut Street Tiny Shop
Update. November 26, 2014. Yesterday, I constructed a ramp out of boards and successfully moved the Kelsey Union "rotary" press and the Poco no. 2 into the front porch. The poco no. 2 has been cleaned and can print an area of 18" x 24". This area now comprises a "Tiny Shop". Although it is a 140 square-foot space (20 x 7), the usable area is only about 95 sq. ft due to doors and passageway way into and out of the house. The space nevertheless comfortably holds the Kelsey Union platen press (10 x 14), the Poco no. 2 proof press (18 x 24), the ornate book press (9 x 13), a cabinet fill of type, the Pearl tabletop paper cutter (19"), two desks for storage, two small type cabinets, an antique floor-model stapler, an electric stapler, a comb binder, and a work table. There is even room for another type cabinet and the Chandler & Price pilot press (6.5 x 10). Here is the Poco no. (ca. 1918 vintage) in place in the Chestnut Street Tiny Shop: