Pint-sized printers are by no means a new invention, but they're apparently back in vogue. You may remember Little Printer—the ticker-producing content curator—which we covered when our friends at BERG first introduced it. If we were to go as far as to make broad historical comparisons, as we do, the "Cub"—an early 20th century printing pess kit for kids, made by the Chicago-based Superior Marking Equipment Company (SMEC)—is the analog precursor to the Little Printer.
Tiny rubber characters (clearly intended for child-sized fingers) were included with each kit—more characters and images could be purchased, Gillette-style, of course. To create customized prints, users would carefully align the rubber stamps on the rotary with tweezers. While the outcome would put the printer miles ahead of the competition when it came to personalized babysitting or lawn mowing fliers, this was not a toy for the short of patience.
Left: sample copy from a print press kit; right: 1951 Popular Science ad
If you think the miniature press itself is awww-inducing, check out this throwback commercial from SMEC competitor, Ideal:
Aside from providing the starter kits, SMEC also sponsored competitions for the best (read: neatest) prints and created a subscription-based publication for printing enthusiasts.
Left: print press competition ad; right: a call for subscriptions in the Swiftset Rotary Printers' Journal
To think, all of that anticipation and patience went into a process that today would only take a few minutes on Microsoft Word and a cheap printer. If you're really looking for a throwback, you can snag your own printing press on the cheap on eBay.