Lithographic offset press, Rubel

Lithographic offset press, Rubel

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Description (Brief)
This sheet-fed rotary, offset press was built in 1903 by Ira Rubel of Nutley, New Jersey. Its cylinder measures 36 inches in diameter.
The Rubel offset press was the earliest of several rotary, offset machines produced in the first decade of the twentieth century. It was invented in 1903 by Ira Washington Rubel, the owner of a small paper mill and lithographic shop in Nutley, New Jersey. No businessman himself, Rubel formed a partnership early in 1906 with a Chicago lithographer, Alex Sherwood, setting up the Sherbel Syndicate as a monopoly to distribute the press. Sherbel presses were built for the syndicate by the Potter Printing Press Company of Plainfield, New Jersey. The syndicate failed later that year, and the press was redesigned and sold as the Potter offset press, becoming the chief rival to the Harris offset press. Eventually, in 1926, the Potter and Harris companies were consolidated. Rubel himself went to England to promote his machine in 1907 and died there in 1908, at the age of 48.
This model was operated in Rubel’s plant in New York in 1904. In 1905 it was purchased by the Union Lithographic Company of San Francisco for $5,500 and shipped to California. It waited out the San Francisco earthquake and fire on a wharf in Oakland, and was put to work in 1907. The maximum speed of the press boasted about 2500 sheets per hour; the sheet size was 28 inches by 34 inches.
Donated by H. S. Crocker Co., Inc., 1969.
Citations: Western Printer & Lithographer, August 1952; “With a Chip on my Shoulder,” an unpublished talk by H. A. Porter given to the Detroit Litho Club, 14 December 1950; Elizabeth Harris, "Printing Presses in the Graphic Arts Collection," 1996.
Object Name
Press, printing
Date made
date made
ca 1903
Rubel, Ira W.
place made
United States: New Jersey, Plainfield
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 7 ft x 7 ft x 8 ft; 2.1336 m x 2.1336 m x 2.4384 m
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Graphic Arts
Printing Presses in the Graphic Arts Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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