The press behind the gen­er­ic title ‘Crop­per’

“Crop­per” became a gen­er­ic term for all job­bing platen presses in the UK. The man who gave his name to these presses was Henry Smith Crop­per, born in Rad­ford, Not­ting­ham­shire in 1839. He was a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man and also a pil­lar of the loc­al com­munity. He was elec­ted to a School Board, which built loc­al schools, was Sher­iff of Not­ting­ham from 1880–1881, and he was also a magistrate.

His com­pany, H.S. Crop­per and Co. Ltd. made two well known presses,

The Minerva

This was based on the Gor­don Frank­lin press and H.S. Crop­per and Co. began its man­u­fac­ture in 1867. Adverts said it was bet­ter known as “The Crop­per”. In 1879 an advert­ise­ment claimed that 9,000 were in use, and by 1891, 14,000. The same adverts include a testi­mo­ni­al that one own­er employed a boy who could pro­duce 2,000 impres­sions per hour. How­ever, James Mor­an thinks that even the more mod­est claim of 1,000 — 1,250iph was an exaggeration.

It was avail­able in the fol­low­ing sizes; 7″ x 11″, 9″ x 14″, 10″ x 15″, 11″ x 17″, 13″ x 19″.

The Min­erva was fam­ously used by Vir­gin­ia and Leonard Woolf, to pro­duce Hog­ar­th Press books. There is a draw­ing of Leonard at the press with Vir­gin­ia in the back­ground com­pos­ing here. The Woolfs gave the press to Vita Sack­ville-West and it is still at Sissinghurst.

The Cropperette

This was based on the Pearl platen.

Cropper, Charlton and Co.

Henry Crop­per died in 1893, and the com­pany then became The Crop­per Machines Co. trad­ing from Par­kin­son Street Mills, Not­ting­ham. Shortly after­wards, Henry’s son Sydney went into part­ner­ship with Charles Charlton and the name of the com­pany changed to Crop­per, Charlton and Co. trad­ing from Frank­lin Works, New Bas­ford, Not­ting­ham. Sadly Sydney Crop­per died aged only 36 in 1901, just two years after his mar­riage. Charlton con­tin­ued to run the com­pany with his two sons, Regin­ald and Charles Cedric, not sur­pris­ingly they kept the Crop­per name in their com­pany title. The last pat­ent that they applied for was in 1939.

Crop­per, Charlton and Co. man­u­fac­tured and impor­ted a num­ber of presses, these included –

The Peerless

Clam­shell Platen in 8″ x 5″, 7″ x 11″, 10″ x 15″. The Peer­less No.2 (7″ x 11″) weighs approx 550lb. The 8″ x 5″ mod­el was sold through H.W. Caslon and an early advert claimed its unique selling points were that it ” runs as easy as a sew­ing machine” and that the Peer­less was oper­ated by “.. a nov­el meth­od, the dwell on the press is long.”

Although bear­ing the same name as an Amer­ic­an press, the design seemed closer to the Cropper­ette than the Peer­less Platen man­u­fac­tured in the States by the Globe Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co., which was anoth­er Gor­don copy.

More inform­a­tion on Bill Elli­gett’s site.

The Acme

Cropper Acme
Crop­per Acme

As the Peer­less appears to be a devel­op­ment of the Cropper­ette, so the Acme seems to have evolved from the Minerva.

The Kovo (aka Adast) Grafopress


This was a 10″ x 15″. auto­mat­ic platen impor­ted from Czechoslov­akia cap­able of 5,000 iph. It was pre­sum­ably meant to com­pete with the Heidel­berg and Thompson platens.

In addi­tion to this they cast type, as shown in this list­ing from a book sale –

Print­ing Types. Crop­per, Charlton & Co., Not­ting­ham, [c1938] Pp.78;
Includes: Chat­ton, Gret­na, Ilford, Tynedale, Main­land, Carter, &c.;
vari­ous bor­ders & orna­ments and Logo­types for Jock­eys & Foot­ball Clubs.

They also made large nip­ping presses, includ­ing one 14″ x 22″. with an open­ing of 13″.


  • Jac­obi, C. T. (1904) Print­ing. George Bell and Sons.
  • Mor­an, J. (1973) Print­ing Presses. Faber and Faber
  • Place, J.A. and Clunes, E. (1932) — The Art & Prac­tice of Print­ing, Vol. 2, Atkins, W. (Ed.) Pitman
  • Census Records 1871,1881,1891, 1901. (see Fordred, D.(2006), Crop­per, Charlton and Co. Small Print­er Vol 42, No.2)
  • Online Pat­ent Records. (see Richard­son, R (2006)., Pat­ent Bleth­er Small Print­er Vol 42, No.10)
  • Snein­ton School Board
  • List of Sheriffs
  • The Gra­fo­press — Print’s Past, The Gra­fo­press, Print Week. Septem­ber 2002.

This art­icle writ­ten by Jonath­an Cooper of the River Sev­en Press