The Cub Rotary Printing Press

In my hunt for Print collectibles I have never stumbled across a better example for children of the printing process. This “Toy” gives a child a first hand attempt at setting type through the letterpress printing process.  I found my first Cub Rotary Printing Press at an antique store, but it was VERY incomplete.  Just an impression cylinder and a shell – nothing more.  This did spark my interest and I took to EBay to find the full thing.  Currently I own three and am trying to combine all to create one complete set.

Meet the Cub Rotary Printing Press

Cub Rotary Press

The Superior Marking Equipment Company (SMECO) was an American manufacturer of rubber type and rotary presses marketed as children’s toys. Kits like this one were sold between the 20’s and 60’s. This particular kit includes the Cub printing press, the smallest of three rotary press models, and prints sheets up to 3.5” x 5.5”. The Star and Ace models print 3.5” x 7” and 5.5” x 7.5”, respectively.

The complete set comes as an entire pressroom in a box.  Individual trays of letters,


as well as an ink roller and all the tools you would need to remove rollers and clean/ink them.


This is truly just the perfect present for that print geek in your life.  Or a great addition to any home print collection.

Certain models even came with idea booklets – to spark the creativity

My collection does not include the booklet above, but it will soon : )

Happy Monday Printheads!  Stay tuned this week – as all week we will be bringing you great “toy” examples of the printing process!

~Source: BGamm & Ebay


3 thoughts on “The Cub Rotary Printing Press

  1. I’ve got three Cubs, a Star and one that’s the size of the Star but not branded as such — I think it’s older. I’ve got the boxes for that one and one of the Cubs, along with some type that’s pretty hardened and some channels. My daughter has an Ace somewhere in her garage, not unpacked yet after they moved two years ago. She said I can have it. My interest started as a child. My grandmother saw a hand-lettered newspaper I’d done and gave me a Star press when I was 9. As things turned out, I wound up working for a daily newspaper as a copy editor, layout editor, writer, picture editor, etc., for 37 years that spanned the last few years of hot-metal printing and the digital revolution. Some years ago I ran across a Cub outfit in an antique store, and it still had type set up on the cylinder. It said, “THIS IS HARD.” Apparently the kid’s first and last print job. Anyway, my “collection” is incomplete and not on display at home, but I just love having the gear again. My wife and I started a Macintosh desktop-publishing business 30 years ago, when the kids were little, and all three learned quickly how to use the Mac and the LaserWriter. I told them at the time, “You’ll never know what it’s like to run out of E’s.”

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