April 20, 2022: Who was GP Gordon?

Having failed to make a living as an actor in the early 19th century, George Phineas Gordon apprenticed as a printer in New York. He must have taken to the work quite handily, for he soon opened his own printing house. Before long, he began to concern himself with how printing presses were designed & used, and started designing presses.

His early designs include the “Yankee Job Press” and the “Firefly,” but his real innovation was the “Franklin” press, introduced in 1858. Gordon claimed that Benjamin Franklin had come to him in a dream and described the design and action of the press. It is only fitting that this style of press became the de facto standard model for job printing in the US.

The “Gordon Jobber” is what we refer to as an “Old Style” press, and thanks to the Chandler & Price Company, it is the most common platen press you will find in the USA, and possibly the world. At the expiration of his original patents, other press manufacturers rushed in to capitalize on the proven design. Starting in 1881, Chandler & Price of Cleveland, Ohio, proved to be the most prolific. It is worth noting that every C&P platen press is an “Old Style” press – their “New Series” of 1912 is a slight departure from the original design but is still an “Old Style” press. 

The “Improved” Gordon Jobber embodies the “New Style” of press which Gordon developed when his original patents were about to expire. It is remarkable for the superior throw-off mechanism, increased dwell time, and relatively small footprint. Still, many printers seemed to prefer what they were used to, and C&P produced their presses for many years, while New Style Gordon presses faded into obscurity, ultimately being absorbed into C&P.

Next: the test assembly, where we determine if it works and what parts are missing.