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