News | February 1, 2023

Centenary of Adana Printing Press Celebrated in New Exhibition

St Bride Library

Early advertisments for Adana

The Adana printing press is 100 years old and to mark the centenary of the company St Bride Library in London has launched a new exhibition, Print Pound Notes! Celebrating 100 years of Adana. The display will bring together for the first time a unique collection of material, including early drawings for the company’s first flatbed press, working examples of some popular 1920s models and photographs and documents from the Aspinall family archives.

Donald Affleck Aspinall was born in April 1899, served in the Essex Regiment in the Great War and established Adana at the youthful age of just 23. By 1927 he was exporting his presses to the United States and had a worldwide distribution network for his products.

The first Adana advertisement appeared on November 25 1922 in The Bazaar, Exchange & Mart, offering readers a “massively constructed” press capable of printing everything “from a chemist’s label to an illustrated magazine”. In truth it was a simple wooden box with a hinged lid, based upon the Victorian Parlour Press.

Adana’s early success was followed by crushing failure as export markets collapsed in the Great Depression of the 1930s. A financial lifeline from type supplier Stephenson Blake was conditional upon the scrapping of Adana’s Monotype machines and as WW2 dawned the company faced ruin.

The St Bride exhibition tells the story of Adana’s post-war re-birth, acquisition by printing press engineer Frederick Ayers and later the Caslon Group. Adana is still trading today.

Print Pound Notes! Celebrating 100 years of Adana runs until April 24 2023