We have all experienced -- first-hand or otherwise -- the recent hike in demand for those Vandercook presses which 15 years ago seemed reasonably priced at 4 or 7 hundred bucks and are now either 6 or 8 K or else simply not available. I just had someone at a printing museum put it to me unequivocally: "You have only yourselves to blame."
He was speaking to me as a letterpress teacher in a academic program. If it weren't for the renaissance in letterpress classes taught here, there, and everywhere, there wouldn't be so many students (taught on Vandercooks, of course) exiting their schooling and snapping up any Vandercook that surfaces. And if those students hadn't bought up all the tidy little SP15s and the like, then when a budding educational studio like ours wanted to accquire another Vandercook, we wouldn't find ourselves out-bid -- or worse, with nothing to bid on.
Of course, it's not just students -- I bought my own SP15 17 years ago. But the guy at the museum has a point: we letterpress teaching shops do generate some of our own competition. Rats! (And, incidentally, too bad lots of the work being done on all those beginner-owned flatbed presses would be more appropriate work for a clamshell of some size.)
All that said, the shop at our school, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, is seeking a Vandercook to complement & augment our press corps. We now have one Challenge reciprocal bed press with crude registration and no inking assembly. (We do all hand-inked type.) We have students enough to make a second flatbed press increasingly necessary. We would love to have a press with the capacity for inking and finer tuning. We have a respectable budget, but not limitless funds.
All Leads Appreciated From the Bottom of Our Collective Hearts!