Sigl’s hand press

Exhibit on display in the Museum of Municipal Engineering in Krakow.

Description written by Rafał Patyk

What we see here is a hand-operated, iron printing press, designed by Georg Sigl in 1878 and manufactured in Germany. Printing presses made of iron were introduced as early as the beginning of the 19th century. Their construction was more solid than the wooden ones, which had been used up to that time.

The machine has two square, moving plates, of which the lower one travels horizontally on a rail and the upper one vertically, along the frame, which has the name of the machine and the year of manufacture embossed on it. The rail-mounted lower plate can be moved horizontally and positioned centrally under the upper plate, which moves vertically within the frame.

To make a copy, the printing form was placed on the lower plate, then covered with printing ink. A sheet of paper was laid on top of it, then the whole lower plate was moved underneath the top one and pressure was applied to it to transfer the ink to the paper. The mechanism for applying pressure that moves the upper plate has been incorporated into the frame, which includes a toggle – a lever that increases the downforce, making the pressman’s job less tiring.

With this type of press, two persons could make 200 to 250 single-sided copies per hour. These presses were mostly used for support tasks in printing houses and for printing proofs of the forms being prepared for full-scale printing.

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