Adams Cottage press No. 4, patented 1861

Description (Brief)
Hand cylinder press made by the Adams Press Company, New York, about 1862. Marked in casting “Patented March 19 1861.” Bed 11-1/2x13
The Adams Cottage Press was patented by Albert Adams in 1861, and manufactured by Joseph Watson operating as the Adams Press Company, New York. The press was advertised as a portable do-it-yourself press for amateurs and businessmen, but its portability soon appealed to the armies of the Civil War. This particular press arrived at the Museum with a traveling chest of type with the painted words, “HEAD QUARTERS ARMY OF POTOMAC. / NO. 6 / PRINTING DEPARTMENT.”
Purchased in 1982
Every Man His Own Printer! advertised the makers of the Lowe and Adams presses. Easy to use, these presses inspired military and amateur printers during and after the Civil War to make use of the portable presses to print military orders, receipts, billheads, and other documents.
Albert Adams's New York cylinder press was described as useful for the armed forces and merchants. It was patented on March 19, 1861, and manufactured and distributed by entrepreneur Joseph Watson and the Adams Press Company in New York.
The Adams Cottage Press was designed without a frisket. The frisket, a separate inner frame hinged to the cloth-covered tympan, served to hold the paper in place and protect the printed sheet. The press included an automatic tympan which closed with the movement of the cylinder. The Adams Cottage Press and other portable presses did not include a self-inking system. The type was inked by hand, a sheet of paper was placed over the inked type, and the bed of the press was cranked below the cylinder to produce an impression and the printed sheet.
Currently not on view
Object Name
press, printing
Object Type
date made
ca 1861
Adams, Albert
Adams Press Company
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 11 1/2 in x 19 1/2 in x 28 in; 29.21 cm x 49.53 cm x 71.12 cm
Place Made
United States: New York, New York
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Civil War
Industry & Manufacturing
Cultures & Communities
Civil War Field Printing
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Graphic Arts
Civil War Field Printing
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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