Saturday, July 26, 2008

Repainting the Pearl Name Plate

Just a small touch, not something you might think of as a major bit of restoration, but what would a Pearl be without her shiney brass Name Plate?

Not that it was awfully bad off, but the brass was a bit dull, the background paint a bit lacking in lustre. And with a shiny new coat of glossy paint, she needed some nice bling.

So here we go. I worked on this for three mornings, about one hour each morning. First I painted the whole thing with the same black Rustoleum I used for the Press and Table. I let it dry for about three days.

Next I used a steel dremel brush and with great care, began to brush off the paint only on the surface of the letters and border. The wire brush also polished off some of the discolour that was on the exposed brass. It was very slow going because one slip and the black background paint would be damaged.

Next I spent an hour with the eraser of a pencil and polished the newly exposed brass letters. This is an old trick I learnt restoring 1930s wireless communication equipment. An eraser is a fairly decent ersatz dry polish. The next step would be to rouge the brass up to a gloss, but I have to get some Brasso for that. Maybe today. But meanwhile it looks good enough to share, so here it is. The screws are new 6-32 brass slotted machine screws from the hardware store.

Nice thing about this Pearl: all the nuts and bolts seem to be standard sizes. I am not sure at all if this holds true across all Pearl models, but so far it's been true with the Old Style Model 3.

Oh, one more note, a bit of info I'll pass on to Pearl users for what it's worth. Yesterday on the LETPRESS List, Steve Saxe, probably the best authority on these presses that I know of, noted that before 1885, the Model 3 table sported three drawers. After 1885, all we find are two drawer tables. We make a quick and dirty poll on the list, and it seems to bear out there. If anyone reading this has a Pearl Model 3 Old Style, made after 1885 containing three drawers, let me know. Mine is a 1909, two drawers. Two LETPRESS members have 1886 models, two drawers.

Well, there ya go.



  1. Hi Gary,

    I came across your blog while trying to find anything out there about letterpress in Florida. It seems really dry down here.
    Anyhow, I am looking for my first press, and it seems as though you really know your stuff. I'm in St. Pete, so DeLand is a bit of a drive, but worth taking some time to check out the Print Shop.
    Do you happen to have any presses that are for sale, or know anyone around who does? Or would consider helping me out. I'd rather not take my chances with ebay/shipping/inexperience.

    Thanks a bunch!

  2. Certainly, Brooke. From time to time presses come available in the most surprising of places. Let me suggest that you get in contact with Prof. Matthews at Tampa U., who runs their Book Arts Dept. He is connected with the American Amateur Press Association, and there are a few members there in the Bay area. (I am not a member yet, but I plan to be soon)

    While I do not have any presses for sale, I do get a head's up on some that go on sale around the country, and I know a couple folks that will haul. The first thing that you need to do is take stock of your space and determine what size you could accommodate. For instance my Pearl takes up only about 3 feet square of space. My C&P 8x12 takes up about 4 x 6 feet, effectively, when you consider the room you need to walk around and oil, the motor, etc. You may do well with a Kelsey Hand Press or a C&P Pilot, both of which are fine table-top presses with a great track record.

    Join the LETPRESS List. There are folks in every catagory you can think of, from newbies, wannabees, folks that have been around the block a few times, and printers, pro and hobby, who have made this a life's endeavour.

    It is my hope one day to see a "Chappel" of Central Florida Letterpress Printers from the Atlantic to the Gulf. Perhaps the "Cypress Chappel" ? As an encouragement, you actually live in Florida's prime Letterpress area, believe it or not!

    Stay in touch, and I'll keep my ear to the ground.

    ***The last time I sent an e-mail to Prof. Matthews, the mail bounced, which is why I am not posting his e-mail address, but I am certain you can contact him through the University.


  3. Hi Gary, thanks for getting back to me. I replied via email a couple of days ago and just realized that the addy was noreplycomment@blogger... so I take it that didn't work!
    My email is brookesterweb (at) yahoo, can you shoot me a short email just so I have your addy, I have some questions.


  4. Hi Gary, I am also on a search for a letterpress machine. I took a letterpress class in NYC at the Center for Book Arts in August. We learned on both a platen treadle press and a Vandercook. My teacher was saying the Pearl was an awesome press...I'm jealous! Like Brooke I'm just looking for any help/contacts. Would be GREATLY appreciated. I am checking Briarpress and Ebay daily. Thanks! Maggie oh I'm in Tampa.

  5. Maggie, I am not sure if you got my direct e-Mail, I did not get a response, so I'll post to you here: Firstly, join the Florida Letterpress List, the link is on the main page of this blog. It is new, and while there are of yet just a few folks on it, we will grow, and as we do, more parts and equipment can be located and circulated.

    On eBay there is a C&P being offered in South Ga, which may be a good catch. Go to:

    I made the posting on the Fla. Letterpress list just a few minutes ago. I am waiting for the seller to post the size of that press. It's a motorised Old Style.


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