Common Press Project

Heavenly heavenly Gary’s turning 70!

Gary Walton, the Cincinnati Type & Print Museum's Founder & Director turned 70 on January 23rd, 2023. To celebrate, the museum's staff and volunteers would like to give Gary his greatest birthday gift ever, a wooden common press!

Our goal is to raise $35,000 to build a full-scale replica of a mid-1700s English Common Press. This press will be as close as possible to the one that William Maxwell, the first printer in what is now Cincinnati, brought with him across the Ohio River in the 1790s. This has been a dream of Gary's since the museum started, and we would like to make that dream a reality!

The Project

William Maxwell is recognized as the first person to publish a newspaper in what is now Cincinnati. With his press, Maxwell helped shape the history of the Ohio Valley. He brought information to the Northwest Territory by printing the first weekly newspaper, The Centinel of the Northwest Territory in 1793. In the summer of 1795 (territorial) Governor Arthur St. Clair and two judges, John Cleves Symmes and George Turner, met in Cincinnati and voted to adopt a legal code for the Northwest Territory, and charged Maxwell with its printing. In 1796 Maxwell, with the help of his wife and an apprentice, set the type, printed, bound, and distributed 1,000 copies of the resulting 225-page book, Laws of the Territory of the United States Northwest Territory of the Ohio, that became known as the “Maxwell Code”.

While we will never know exactly what Maxwell's press looked like, it was likely a used model, imported from England. Our project will use the few known original presses from the mid-18th Century, as well as the 1978 schematics of the Smithsonian's "Benjamin Franklin Press," as references. Our hope is to create a replica press as close to the one Maxwell used as possible.

The Goal

  1. Develop a working design for a replica mid-18th Century English "Common" Printing Press, based on surviving examples and leading scholarship.

  2. Work with local craftspeople to build a full size press that will become the center piece of the Museum.

  3. Compile and maintain an archive of materials related to the history of William Maxwell, and his early efforts at printing in what is now Cincinnati.


Your financial contributions will help make our Common Press Project a reality!

Thank you to our donors!

Jason Burgher

Sidney & Laura Juliani

Adam & Tara Walton

Andrew Schall

James & Kelly Knapmeyer

Kristina Arwood

Meet our Project Team

Gary Walton, CT&PM Founder

Jacob Simpson, CT&PM Curator

Marshall Ivey, Project Lead

Clay Babcock, CAD Engineer