'Columbian' printing pres, 1837.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
From about 1820 onwards the traditional wooden printing pres began to give way to iron preses which could increase productivity by printing bigger sheets. Perhaps the best known of these is the 'Columbian', invented by the American George Clymer (1754-1834). The ornate pres, with its heavy lever mechanism, first appeared in 1813. By 1817 Clymer was in London, and in 1830 he went into partnership there with Samuel Dixon. The pres seen here was made by Clymer and Dixon at their Finsbury Street works.