Find Your Kelsey

("Excelsior" Tabletop Models)

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1. About this Project

This is a project by Stephen O. Saxe to provide an array of dated images of Kelsey "Excelsior" printing presses for the purpose of assisting Kelsey owners and others in more closely determining the dates of their presses.

The dates given are those of the catalog or other item in which the illustration appeared. Each date provides a point in time by which a press of the design shown was offered by Kelsey for sale. By comparison of your press with these images it may be possible more closely to date it. Steve Saxe also notes that, in particular, a comparison of the words on the castings (which changed from era to era) should be useful for finding a particular press.

The "A" and "B" designations in the chart are not Kelsey model designations. They're just used here to distinguish multiple images from the same year.

This chart covers only the primary thread of development of the Kelsey "Excelsior" front-lever table-top press. There were several other "Excelsior-related" presses which might prove a source of minor confusion. These are covered not here but in the section "When Is an Excelsior Not an Excelsior?" section of the CircuitousRoot Kelsey Press Miscellany.

You may find it useful to widen your browser's window to view this array of images (it is five images wide). Click on any of these images for a slightly larger view.

See the section of notes after the images for credits. In particular please note that while most of these images are in the public domain, some are not. In particular, images marked with the following tags are used here by permission and are not public domain:

If you have images of other Kelsey Excelsior presses that you would wish to share, with solid evidence for a particular date, we would be happy to add them here. The more data points we have, the more useful this table becomes. Please contact David M. MacMillan at:

1. Kelsey "Excelsior" Images

image link-to-godine-kelsey-1874-hand-inked-excelsior-first-toggle-press-sf0.jpg image link-to-godine-kelsey-1874-hand-inked-excelsior-first-toggle-press-second-body-sf0.jpg image link-to-godine-kelsey-1875-excelsior-first-self-inking-sf0.jpg image link-to-kelsey-1878-excelsior-sf0.jpg image link-to-kelsey-1878-hand-inked-excelsior-sf0.jpg
1874 Hand-Inked Excelsior (1) [EH] 1874 Hand-Inked Excelsior (2) [EH] 1875 Excelsior [EH] 1878 Excelsior 1878 Hand-Inked Excelsior

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1882 Excelsior 1882 Hand-Inked Excelsior 1882 Side-Lever Excelsior 1887 Excelsior 1887 Hand-Inked Excelsior

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Circa 1894 Excelsior 1896 Excelsior 1898 Excelsior Circa 1904 Excelsior (A) [DG] Circa 1904 Excelsior (B) [DG]

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1924 Excelsior (A) 1924 Excelsior (B) 1931 Excelsior 1934 Excelsior 1936 Excelsior

image link-to-kelsey-1937-excelsior-sf0.jpg image link-to-kelsey-1938-excelsior-sf0.jpg image link-to-dmm-kelsey-printers-supply-book-1946-05-0600rgb-053-crop-sf0.jpg image link-to-kelsey-1947-excelsior-sf0.jpg image link-to-dmm-kelsey-do-your-own-printing-48p75x-incomplete-sf0.jpg
1937 Excelsior 1938 Excelsior 1946-1949 Excelsior [DMM] 1947 Excelsior 1948 Excelsior N [DMM]

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1950 Excelsior N [DMM] 1965 Excelsior 1974 Excelsior (A) 1974 Excelsior (B) 1975 Excelsior

1. Credits

1.1. Stephen O. Saxe

Unless noted otherwise, the illustrations here were scanned by Stephen O. Saxe from literature in his collection.

Note: The image of an 1898 Excelsior was taken from a circa 1911 desk blotter printed by/for the Marquis Press, Nashua, NH. On it, they describe this 1898 Excelsior as their first press. Here is a more complete scan of the blotter: marquis-press-desk-blotter-with-1898-excelsior.jpg

The images from Stephen O. Saxe presented here are in the public domain.

1.2. [DG] David Greer

The following two images appear through the courtesy of David Greer, owner of the T. J. Lyons type collection. They may not be reproduced further without his permission. Both are marked "[DG]" in their captions.

These images are from a circa 1904 Kelsey catalogue in his collection (1904, the date of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, is the most recent date which appears in it). A complete set of photographs of this catalogue appears on his website at:

1.3. [EH] Elizabeth Harris; David R. Godine Publisher, Inc.

The following three images are from Elizabeth Harris' book Personal Impressions (Boston: David R. Godine Publisher, Inc., 2004.) They are reprinted by permission of David R. Godine Publisher, Inc., and are Copyright 2004 by Elizabeth Harris. They may not be reproduced further without permission from David R. Godine Publisher, Inc. All three are marked "[EH]" in their captions.

Our thanks to David R. Godine Publisher, Inc., for permission to reprint these images. This book is available on the David R. Godine website at:

Stephen O. Saxe notes that this "book is a delight for anyone interested in small presses," and I concur. It should be in the library of every printing enthusiast.

1.4. [DMM] Dr. David M. MacMillan

The following images were scanned by Dr. David M. MacMillan. All are marked "[DMM]" in their captions.

"1946-1949 Excelsior". This is from the Kelsey Printers' Supply Book. The edition from which it was scanned includes sections with various dates ranging from 1946 through 1949. The particular section from which this image was scanned is dated 1947. This book is online in the CircuitousRoot Kelsey Notebook.

"1948 Excelsior N". This is from an incomplete copy of the Kelsey Do Your Own Printing booklet. This particular copy bears the printing code "48 3/4 X"; as will be seen in the note below for "1950 Excelsior N", this strongly suggests 1948 as a date. This book is online in the CircuitousRoot Kelsey Notebook.

"1950 Excelsior N". This is from the Kelsey Do Your Own Printing booklet. This particular booklet is unusually well dated. It bears the printing code "50 1/4 Y". It is still in its original collection of Kelsey literature mailed to a Chicago printer in an envelope received on July 24, 1950. This booklet is online in the CircuitousRoot Kelsey Notebook. Thanks are due to Jenny Addison, Prop. of Lock and Key Press, for making this material available.

The images from Dr. David M. MacMillan presented here are in the public domain.

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