Adana H/S1
Adana H/S1

The ‘Adana Agency’ was founded in 1922 in Twickenham by Donald Affleck Aspinall. Adana was distinguished by catering for the hobby letterpress printer, at a time when some suppliers did not approve of the hobby printer. The type founder Caslon stated that ‘We are not among those who are alarmed at the increase in amateur printing in this country, though we will not encourage it.’

The first official Adana machines were advertised in November 1922 in the Exchange and Mart. The machine was a development on the Parlour Presses of the late Victorian period, and retailed for 45/- (£2.25).

Over its life, Adana made different types of machines – the unique flatbed machines (like the Adana QH or Adana HQ); treadle and powered presses; and their famous lever presses. Adana also supplied specialist show card presses (for display boards); and sundries for the amateur printer.

Adana cast its own type from 1925 and used four Monotype Casters and two Supertype casters. Aspinall, who had no formal engineering or business training, has a number of patents, including one for Adana’s wire gauge pins

As well as being used for hobby printers, Adana presses found their way into other spheres — education, occupational health and light industry. A fleet of Adanas was used by the Leeds Permanent Building Society to over-print pass books. Their most well-known machine is probably the Adana Eight-Five.

At its height, the firm had agents across the globe; and branch offices in London and Manchester.

In 1996, after changing hands many times, Adana was absorbed into Caslon. That firm still sells some Adana supplies, but the last new machine was sold in 1999 by their agent in Japan.

Outline Timeline

Nov 1922 Donald Aspinall places first adverts in the Exchange and Mart for printing machines
Mid 1920s Adana moved to Church Street, Twickenham
Jul 1925 Reports of type being cast by three Monotype machines at Church Street with 50 tons of type in stock
1927 Popular Printing launched as a periodical by Adana. 36-division cases launched by Adana: discontinued in 1994
Summer 1928 Adana’s wire guage pin invented. A request is made for customers to make suggestions for Adana blocks with the promise that they would be re-drawn professionally
Summer 1939 The firm (run as a sole proprietor by Aspinall) hits financial difficulties: creditors meet
1940 Adana Agency acquired by Frederick Ayers
Apr 1946 Adana (Printing Machines) Limited formed
1948 Printcraft magazine lists 16 distributors around the globe
1950 New shop opens at Greys Inn Road, London
Mar 1959 One of Ayers subsidiaries – Ayers Jardine – launches the ‘Showcard’ machine for small businesses to print display cards for shops
1961 Beginners Guide to Design in Printing published by Adana
Early 1970s Plaspoint – a plastic replacement for leads is introduced, but leads to some complaints because it had a tendency to slip from the forme
1980 Type no longer cast by Adana, and supplied by Yendall (Riscatype) until they were wound up in 1984. Type then supplied by Startype of Birstall
1987 Greys Inn Road shop closes
10 Aug 1990 Adana (Printing Machines) Limited wound up goodwill sold to Caslon
Apr 1993 Adana Limited goes into voluntary liquidation
1999 Last new Adana machine (8 x 5) sold by Adana’s agent in Japan

More Information

Bob Richardson has written an excellent book The Adana connection detailing both the firm and her machines. It was published by the British Printing Society, and may still be available from them.