Okay, so we've got increasing demand for proof presses. Seems like half the people in Portland and Brooklyn want to own a Vandercook. It's a simple machine that's mostly heavy because of things we now know how to do with a lot less mass and (permanent) weight. Demand is rising. Use is rising. Supply is tiny and decreasing. And let me take this moment to remind y'all that proof press can also be used to, for example, lay down resist for doing short run circuit boards. Or any number of things beyond making pretty pictures. And because of the bed design you can use all sorts of wild-ass things as "printing plates." I have promo cards here done on a vandercook with dice used as the "printing plate." And rearranged between print runs.
Before you go any further, go to the Briar Press site and look at their ads. Then try to find proof presses on Craig's List and eBay. Then come back here.
I hear that there's one company left somewhere in Europe that's making proof presses but they're sure not helping out here. Nobody I know even knows their name, let alone how to find them.
So why not have five years of annual competitions? $5,000 to be paid for the best Vandercook-style proof press made in the Pacific Northwest from modern, readily available materials? With the winning press to then be sold off to the highest bidder who commits to using it to print. For the first three years entrants are allowed to scavenge parts for the cylinder and related components. Classes in the mechanics of proof press machinery are also subsidized in the first three years for machinists and other likely entrants. All entrants are required to document where they got their parts. Points will be awarded for how easily somebody else can replicate the approach used by that entry.
Guaranteed by year three we'd have a whole community of pressbuilders here in western Oregon.
By year six we'd have people around here making their living here building, modifying, and working with custom built presses.
Seems to me that if ADX could talk to OCAC, PNCA, a few other craft press folks here and there (Oblation?), and the em-space crowd, all the expertise needed would be right there, not just for judging but for validating the demand.
How much would it take to raise that $5,000? How much more would administering the contest cost? Say, another $3,000 per year?
And I really do wonder how much that resulting press would sell for.