I think I'm going to have to start learning to press books because...217 working days ~10.5 months is too long to wait for books to be pressed with uncertain results
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By teaching you in the manner you suggest, they're losing a customer in place of help they probably don't need (they're not going to buy extra presses to accommodate your help, knowing you're only there until you feel you've learnt the basic technique). Think you're going to have to go it alone, mate. 

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On 1/20/2022 at 2:26 AM, Mecha_Fantastic said:

By teaching you in the manner you suggest, they're losing a customer in place of help they probably don't need (they're not going to buy extra presses to accommodate your help, knowing you're only there until you feel you've learnt the basic technique). Think you're going to have to go it alone, mate. 

Yeah, it's probably a rabbit hole I probably have to go down alone and hope to come out on the other side.  It's a path many on here have had to pursue after coming to the same conclusion I just did.  They probably wouldn't benefit much from my help or even the offer to non-compete.  It seems like there's plenty enough customers to go around anyways.  At this point, paying and waiting to press the books I want isn't worth it for them or for me at their price point.  I'd have to pay a lot more to guarantee a month turnaround time but then it wouldn't really be worth it for me. And realizing what that would take, the barrier to entry to pressing your own books is no longer cost or time prohibitive

@DocHoppus182I've already not pressed these books for over 10 years when they were not worth much so I've already done that but @theCapraAegagrus now many of them have gone up in price enough where there is significant enough value after a press making them worthy.

I've actually come to the epiphany that cleaning and pressing is a skill that any serious collector needs to pick up.  Just like knowledge of proper comic book storage, grading, and handling, serious long term collectors should pursue and add this knowledge to their utility belts.  If we spend all this time and money maintaining our collections meticulously with insurance, storage boxes, mylars, chamber paper, full backs, shelves, online price guide subscriptions, CGC subscriptions, grading fees, comic database subscriptions, and glamorous comic rooms, whats another $1000 in equipment and more countless hours in time and effort.  I'm working from home now so I've now got the time and space to dedicate to learning it.  Who knows, if I get good enough, this could become my retirement gig later on in life.  Guess I'll join a pressing facebook group or something.

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On 1/20/2022 at 11:44 AM, justafan said:

@DocHoppus182I've already not pressed these books for over 10 years when they were not worth much so I've already done that but @theCapraAegagrus now many of them have gone up in price enough where there is significant enough value after a press making them worthy.

If a press will improve their condition with certainty. If they're certain to grade higher, then the wait is worth it.

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On 1/20/2022 at 11:44 AM, justafan said:

I've actually come to the epiphany that cleaning and pressing is a skill that any serious collector needs to pick up.

I don’t know what constitutes a “serious collector”, but I like to think I qualify.  If you want to press your books, have at it.  I don’t care one way or the other honestly.  It’s not my thing.

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I bought a press around 4 years ago and taught myself. Just basic pressing, I rarely deal with humidity and never clean because that's way too much work and my books aren't worth it anyway. I now have 2 presses and every morning I either flip a book over, or put a new one in, turn up the heat, 12 minutes later I turn them off and let them go all day.  Repeat before bed. There are lots of other techniques and things one CAN do...I don't.  Keeping it easy.   I'm happy with my books and grades. 

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On 1/21/2022 at 3:39 PM, Wolverinex said:

It was probably pressed.

My and probably many others' first thought as well!

(note the rare but correct pluralized possessive used above!)

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Bit of an update on this but figured I'd share my progress for anyone planning on taking on this endeavor themselves, what to prepare for.

I've been practicing pressing moderns 2000-present with both glossy and matte interior pages for the last 2 weeks with some encouraging success. I managed to find a few decent cheap candidates with a good mix of light and shallow to deep and difficult defects.  I had to add some of my own to really get some good practice which actually hurt me more than I expected.  It felt like I was like committing a crime to add a defect to an otherwise low grade modern.  Considering the true crime is what my pressing attempts might have done to the book if things went wrong, I got over it quickly.

Major accomplishments:

  1. Acquired 2 types of working clamshell presses and 1 HUGE Seal Jumbo press (for those that have hunted for these, this is a major accomplishment)  This actually took the longest (3 weeks).
  2. Acquired 3 pairs of steel plates this took the 2nd longest trying to locate a place that would cut and sell steel plates at a reasonable price.
  3. Acquired all the basic materials needed to begin "properly" (amature) pressing moderns along with a table and space to set up my apparatus.
  4. Researched hours of pressing videos and online advice and narrowed my initial approach and test plan.
  5. Identified initial test subjects (or possibly victims) and documented the defects for comparison.
    1. Wolverine Old Man Logan #66 3 copies Defects include (pressable and non-pressable spine bends, finger(nail) bends with and w/o color break, light shallow edge bends, moderate corner bend, moderate indents and dimples from being stacked,. Extra credit defects (added on): sharp corner bend, grain of sand press dimple, improperly pressed staple indents )
    2. Unity Time is not Absolute #1 1 copy Defects include: large non-color break spine bends (1"+), edge crease with hint of color break, multiple large raised curvy sharp creases that don't break color, edge bends and finger(nail) bends.  Extra Credit (added on) grain of sand press dimple, interior page bends)
  6. Calibrated the temperature setting on all 3 presses.  A meat contact thermometer is probably best since the different presses use different metals for the heat platen giving you wildly different temperatures with an infrared gun.  Aluminum has a lower emissivity than steel so you need an infrared thermometer gun that allows you to switch the emissivity settings but even then it can be off by several degrees.  However the gun does help you see where colder spots on the platen are and allow you to obtain a better overall average temperature.  Every press is different.  Even the press temp settings can fluctuate so before you put your books in, do several tests to isolate the setting that best matches your desired temp.  Most folks online will suggest starting at 150 degrees.  However, I found for my presses the upper limit is 175 degrees F for moderns before the pages start to stick together and potentially damage inks.  I then dialed it back to 170 to be on the safe side.  Then you also have to take into consideration the room temp.  My basement was about 63 degrees when I did this and drops to 60 over night which causes the press to cool quicker so I may have to adjust my temps in the summer when my basement is closer to 73 degrees.  I may have to dial it back to 160 degrees.  I will have to experiment with different heat times and press durations.
  7. Calibrated the pressure settings on all 3. Also a major accomplishment as the clamshell presses can be uneven on one side or the other. The seal uses a different pressure adjustment calibration method than the clamshells.
  8. Successfully dry pressed both test subject titles to remove the more shallow and superficial defects.  For the deeper defects it eliminated the "feel" tactile sense of the defect but only reduced the visibility of the defect by 30-50%. The deeper defects felt smooth when passing your finger over them but you could still see via glare that the defects were still there. The shallow spine ticks were completely removed.  The larger and deeper ones remained visible but appeared smaller and severity was reduced by 50%.  The non-color break fingernail bends were 90% pressed out requiring sharp glare to see a hint of their previous presence. All raised bends and light creases were smoothed out and eliminated.  The color break defects were completely smoothed out but still leaving behind flat color-break marks such as small curved color breaks from the fingernail bends and some spine ticks. Edge bends and dimples along with very deep sharp creases and corner bends remained having improved them by roughly 30-35%% (based on angle of light until you could detect them again, size comparison from their original visibility, and feel).
  9. Successfully calibrated and achieved desired humidity levels/timing for the humidity chamber (very tough to do during a dry winter where indoor RH is near 30%).  You must heat up that water to a certain degree (I forgot to record it so I will have to reproduce) and seal that plastic tub tight to trap the humidity (roughly 90%RH at ~70-80 degrees F give or take 5 degrees.) I will have to play with this humidity setting to see if I can shorten the duration of the humidity chamber with higher humidity yields or chamber sizing. Helps to have a temp and humidity gauge to put in the humidity chamber.  I'm also going to try using a garment steamer.
  10. Successfully pressed 2 humidified moderns eliminating all but the color breaking defects (as expected) and the sand dimple (also as expected as a tacking iron and steel ball will need to be used for that).  I was most impressed at how well the the sharp creases, corner bends, and improperly pressed staple dimples were completely eliminated.  The large spine bends also vanished. Best of all, no pulled inks, no stuck pages, no fanning or curling of pages.  The comics lie flat and are a vast improvement over their initial condition.

After a month, I've managed to identify the types of moderns defects that can be pressed out with a dry press and those that will require humidity as well as those stubborn ones that will require manual intervention with a tacking iron and ball. I've learned how to use a clean workspace, position the backerboards, SRP paper and other paper inserts to ensure uniformity and integrity of the comic in the press. I've learned the pros and cons of different presses and how to prep them. I've learned what I need to know about humidity chambers and improving those processes. I am going to continue working on moderns and try and perfect my craft at all moderns for now.  That's the era where most of the books I want to press are at anyways.  My pressing apparatus will allow me to press 8 books at a time.  For dry presses it takes 24 hours (mostly cool down pressing) but I'm going to try and see what the shortest time I can achieve per defect that doesn't revert.  For humidity pressing it takes 32 hours but I will experiment with shortening the time in the humidity chamber and the pressing cooldown times.

I didn't do any cleaning of the comics before hand other than simply wiping them with a tissue to clear any dust and particles that may contaminate the pressing.  I will next work on building my dry cleaning skills which will be necessary for some books prior to pressing them.

At this point, I'm getting more comfortable with the process and confident in my abilities.  My goal is to press several hundred (~400) comics to get them to submission worthy if CGC TATs improve or sell them raw otherwise or possibly use Voldy's slabbing if they aren't just as backed up.  I'll post another update when I've reached more significant milestones. I might add some pictures of the victims before an after if I get time. I am terrible with taking and uploading photos..

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About 15 years or so ago, I bought an old, beat up Seal press. Paid about $150. Was going to try my hand at pressing. At that time, there wasn't much info around, because the pros weren't sharing secrets (and I didn't/don't blame them), so, lots of trial and error. Turned many books into shriveled up bricks. Determined that I was doing a lot more harm than good to the hobby overall, and put the press in storage. A few years ago I pulled it out of the garage, dusted it off...and put it out on the curb for junk day. It lasted a few minutes before the Jawas scooped it up. I guess I could have sold it, but it was enormous and heavy as hell, and I didn't feel like dealing with it. Utinni!

People should do what they want with their books. I can certainly understand the short term positives of pressing, as I definitely benefited many times, financially speaking. (Not books I pressed myself. I used Matt, Joey, Mike, and others). But in the long term, for my own books, I just don't care anymore. No offense to anyone else, but I get a sick little kick out of imagining a future where suddenly everyone's slabbed books have turned to ashes in little plastic coffins. "Oh, if only we knew then what we know now about pressing!"  But I kid the pressers, I kid!

We'll all be long dead before that happens, thanks to plague/pestilence/famine/volcanoes/aliens/etc

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An “old timer” dealer that I have a ton of respect for, that many here know, told me something years ago about pressing.  What is the one thing you’re taught early on about your paper collectibles?  Not to get them wet.  I’m assuming he’s referring to humidity.

Discuss……

Edited by DocHoppus182
Grammar
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