The Nipping Press & The Copying press.

The Copying Press.

It could be said that Desktop Publishing first began as early as 1780, when the first practical method of reproducing business documents was introduced.

A primary was written with copying ink and laid on a sheet of thin damp unsized paper, the pair were placed in an iron copying press and pressed together, and a copy would then be transferred to the tissue.

small copying pressThe copying press soon became a familiar piece of equipment in every 19th century office. You will find these old copying press's being sold today as book press's, their original purpose forgotten.

However you will find a copying press in most binderies, they are useful for when it comes to pressing one or two books. These presses tend to be quite small, and with a limited daylight, daylight being the maximum distance that the press can be opened to. A common press has a platen size of 12 x 9 and a 2" daylight; a press in reasonable condition, like the one opposite, might cost £100 - £150 ($150 - $230).


medium nipping pressThis type of copying press has a larger platen area, 14” x 10”, and a daylight of 3”. One in good condition might cost £250 ($400)

This is about the largest copying press you will come across, although there are aberrations with a larger daylight.

There are also very small, often highly decorative press’s with platen areas of only 8” x 5” and a daylight of only 1”, but it’s not likely you will see one in a bindery.



nipping press threadsSomething to watch for. In the illustration opposite there are shown three types of steel thread. Fig.1 shows a “V” cut thread, you sometimes find this type of thread on copying press’s, it is not suitable as a book press as the V thread cannot exert enough pressure.

Fig.2 shows a square cut thread, which can exert considerable pressure, but the thread is cut at too steep an angle, and has a higher screw slope, when screwing the press down the platen will rebound slightly from full tightening, thus will not provide maximum pressure.

Fig.3 shows a square cut thread, cut at a shallower angle. This means that when the press is tightened up, the cross bar can be given an extra twist, thus providing additional pressure to the book.

The Nipping Press.

The thing that marks out a bookbinders nipping press from a copying press, is the amount of available daylight, we have seen that copying press’s have a daylight commonly between 2” & 3” and quite a small platen area.

big nipping pressThis is one of the common sizes of nipping press that you will come across; it has a platen size of 18” x 14”, with a daylight of 13”.

The weighted T bar helps you gain momentum when tightening the press, and the extra daylight enables you to put a stack of books in the press at one time.

This type of nipping press has been made since Victorian times and you can commonly find them second hand from between £500 - £800 ($780 - $1200) depending on condition. These press’s are still made today and cost around £1300 ($2000) new.

As you can see they are quite massively constructed and are accordingly heavy items to move, though they can come to pieces for removal. They are often constructed with lugs that can be bolted to the bench.


big copying pressMuch larger nipping press’s are available, useful for pressing larger books or documents; this one has a 30” x 20” platen with a daylight of 24”.

Having large ball weights at each end of the T bar makes this large nipping press quite easy to operate. Once again lugs are included to bolt the press to a bench, and the press can be taken apart for removal.

A press like this in good condition might fetch £1000 - £1200 ($1600 - $1900), new it would cost about £2500 ($4000)

With these solid iron nipping press’s costing so much new, and holding their price so well on the second hand market, it is not surprising that some companies and individuals have turned to using wood in their construction.


So there we have it, the nipping press and the copying press, two pieces of equipment that have different origins but which can now be seen working side by side in most hand binderies.


wooden nipping pressProvided that thought is given to the choice of materials used, construction, and importantly, the type of screw thread, and how the pressure from the thread is transfered to the platen, then a well made wooden nipping press can seem a very attractive alternative to a steel press based on price alone.

This press made by Omnia Libris, the people who make the 7 in 1 press, it's made from hard maple with chrome plated guides and T bar, has an A3 platen 16.5" x 23.5" with a 12” daylight and costs £650.00, contact us for details.









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