Having obsolete industrial machinery on display, or primitive scientific apparatus preserved under glass commemorates decades of experience and symbolizes expertise wrought from empiric success. Such is the case at Lorpon Labels custom label printing in Toronto, Ontario where I found a Baltimore #9 Printer on display in their front office. This is a relic from the 1880s and its still hard at work today, but not as a printing press.
Lorpon Labels Displays a Museum Quality Printing Press that was a Custom Printing Solution in the Late 1800s
At the tail end of the American Industrial Revolution these items were being sold new for one or two dollars each. The printer was always sold as part of a home printers' package that consisted of the press, an ink roller and a couple cans of ink. There was also a pair of tweezers and at least two boxes of type—all in miniature. Blank cards were available everywhere stationary was sold.
The Baltimore #9 Printer on display at Lorpon Labels was made by Baumgarten & Co who copied the design by J. F. W. Dorman, as per Briar Press Museum website. J. F. W. Dorman started in business in 1866 as a stencil cutter, becoming a supplier of rubber stamps and stationery materials. The company turned to making presses in the 1870’s.
The Baltimore #9 Printer on display in the office foyer of Lorpon Labels was acquired by the Bob Pontarollo, CEO of the company in an antiques market in the USA for a couple hundred bucks, six years ago. That price was considered a bargain at the time. But what was the original catalog price? There doesn’t seem to be an online reference for the contemporary price of press that I can find today. If you know anything about it, please leave your knowledge in the comment section below.
The machine was operated by hand lever. This item measures 10 1/2" by 5" by 8" tall is composed primarily of iron but is mounted on a slab of wood.
With this device, merchants could create their own printed cards and stock labels. A wealthy practitioner could own a Baltimore #9 Printer outright, while a less prosperous business owner may posses only a half or quarter share of such a press. In well connected neighbourhoods such a press may have been jointly owned by a dozen or more businesses and serve the printing needs of a small community. There's an ink roller too or whatever this is also on display on the pedestal tray. The antique is 99% complete I believe; its only missing ink and paper. The name set in type in the chase is that of a woman and her address. Mrs Mary Johnson -- Sycamore Road. The rig could be easily refurbished and come to life again ...
Meanwhile Fortunes Were Being Made In The Newspaper BusinessFriedrich Koenig’s cylinder press debuted in London England in 1812 and was famously employed by The Times of London in 1814. Printing newspapers was where history was happening in the 1800s. American flatbed cylinder machines, following European models, made their appearance in the 1820s and became the workhorses of big city newspaper and large job offices. Type was still supported on a flat bed which had to move back and forth, but the impression cylinder could turn continuously, speeding up the paper feeding operation. Typically, flatbed cylinder presses delivered a thousand sheets per hour, printed on one side only. Koenig’s press was a huge breakthrough, and its impact on society is hard to calculate. From its first appearance in the Napoleonic era, the cylinder press has played a dramatic role in the march of civilization... And in another product category altogether, the little Baltimore #9 Printer was decidedly, a step in the other direction.
Lorpon's Baltimore #9 Printer probably dates from the 1890's, but it could have been made as late as 1910. We know it wasn't made before 1885 because its not a 'Baltimorean #9 Printer'. As noted earlier, the original Baltimoreans were made by J. F. W. Dorman Co., but later Baltimores were produced by Baumgarten & Co., Inc. The castings, decorations and nomenclature were so similar that nowadays, two hundred and thirty years later, only veteran collectors can tell them apart.
Without the accompanying text, could you spot the Baltimorean?
This picture below is from a catalog in the 1890s - sadly, no prices
Below is pg 736 of The Monumental, which outlines the life of John F Wesley Dorman. https://books.google.ca/books?id=8JUZTP4azZUC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=true
J.F.W. Dorman was survived by Baumgarten & Co. Inc. The latter's descendants still run the original printing and rubber stamp making business. The photo below is the masthead of their website, Baumgarten.com
By making these hand operated presses for everyday people, both businessmen helped clear a path for the march of humanity. Today we can reflect back on how far we've come from inside the age of digital printing. Today we have full colour presses which are so good our paper currency has to be concocted from synthetic polymers and interspersed with translucent patches encasing magnetic stripes to deter counterfeiters.