George E. Clymer

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George Clymer (1754?–1834) from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was an American engineer and inventor (he is sometimes called "George E. Clymer", but this middle initial is probably an error based on a misreading of an early census record; no evidence for a middle name, if he had one, has so far been found). Around 1813 he invented the Columbian Printing Press. This was a cast-iron, lever-operated replacement for the wooden screw presses which had been in use in Europe since the fifteenth century and in North America since the seventeenth.

Clymer appears to have begun making wooden presses of the traditional type before 1800, and may have introduced refinements to the design.[1] A rare early press, currently located at Historic Richmond Town, has been tentatively attributed as the only surviving example made by Clymer prior to his 1813 design for the Columbian Press.[2] His Columbian Press was inspired in part by the earlier English Stanhope press. Clymer found a limited market for his press in the United States, so in 1817 he moved to England to compete in the European market with the Stanhope Press, and later with the Albion press.

Clymer made a success of his press-manufacturing business, and spent the rest of his life in England. He died in London in 1834 at the age of eighty. After his death the Columbian Press continued to be sold by the firm he had established, and was also made by other manufacturers in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe.


Surviving examples of the Columbian Press can be found in many museums:


  1. ^ Oldham, Robert, "The Columbian press at 200", p. 51.
  2. ^ "Online Collections Database". Historic Richmond Town. Staten Island Historical Society. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  • Oldham, Robert (2014). "The Columbian press at 200: a preliminary report on a world-wide census". Journal of the Printing Historical Society (N.S. 21): 51–66.