Farley Proofing Press

My last few weeks have been pretty hectic to say the least. On the same day I was picking up the Ludlow I got a call from a lovely-sounding lady in Oxfordshire asking if I was interested in a Farley Proofing Press. Was I half! These things are like Unicorn Horns. Anyway, long story short – my friend Duncan and I got a van and set off to Oxfordshire one evening after work. My better half had taken the Sat-nav on a road trip of her own so it was left to Duncan to navigate. He’s renowned in our group of friends as having very little sense of direction, but he came through this time. Beers were being earned.

Farleys are deceivingly heavy beasts, especially if you fail to secure the cylinder before lifting and it hurtles towards your fingers! Luckily, the press separates very easily from the metal stand, and once secured we got both parts loaded and unloaded. What a find, the press came with all three rollers (barely used) and was in great condition. The press had been lovingly used by an artist called Sandra for many years. In fact, she told me that it was named ‘Cleo’ after Cleopatra, strong and gorgeous, apparently…

Anyway, I had to put the press into a storage area for a couple of weeks whilst I cleared space for it elsewhere. This didn’t stop me pulling my first print with it though. No way! There weren’t many lights in the storage space, so I was printing with a head torch using some nice 8-line grotesque that I’ve had for ages but have never had the chance to print more than 5 characters with. With no make-ready and no feed board, it was a bit ropey but I’m SO happy to be able to print larger than A5…



Following the successful darkness-printing, I set out to replace the feedboard. Something that’s massively important in the printing process on the Farley. The gripper bars work when the cylinder is moved completely to the left-hand side of the press, depressing the lever that lifts the fingers. This is when the paper is fed in. as the cylinder is moved towards the forme and printing area, the lever is released and the grippes hold the paper firmly, allowing a print to be easily taken. Without the feedboard it’s a complete pain getting the paper aligned and into the grippers. So I knew I’d have to make one.

With some advice from my printing oracle, Andy Taylor, and a visit to Simon Goode at the LCBA, I got to see what a Farley feedboard looked like. It was a little more complicated than I had imagined as it needed a countersunk metal feeding lip, but it was still achievable. I spent a couple of ideas sketching up prototypes and figuring out what tools/materials I’d need and then headed to B&Q. Living in a small flat in London means that there’s not much need for power tools, so I had to invest in some for this little project, which may have ended up costing more than the press itself.



With a rainy Sunday coming up I spent the afternoon fashioning the feedboard and much to my surprise it worked perfectly first time – so happy, and quite proud of myself. Can’t wait to get Cleo to her place at home so I can get really inky…


Join the discussion One Comment

  • Alex says:

    So happy to see some information on the Farley proofing press. I have just purchased one in Australia and it looks very similar to yours minus a few pieces.
    I would love to have any information on this machine as I would love to get mine up and running properly. It looks like I don’t have the feed board . I do have the rollers and it seems to be missing the handle.
    I would love to know how it works and how I can start using it.Any info would be well received.

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