Papa Doug Manchester Donates Historic Washington Hand Press to the San Diego History Center

Washington Hand Press

Washington Hand Press

San Diego, CA — Papa Doug Manchester, developer, philanthropist and former publisher of the San Diego Union Tribune, has donated a historic Washington Hand Press to the San Diego History Center. The press and typesetting were acquired by James Copley for its historical value and was displayed for decades at the headquarters of the Copley Press in Mission Valley.

The Samuel Rust-patented Washington Hand Press was introduced in 1829. R. Hoe and Company gained control of his patents in 1835 and continued to manufacturer these presses into the 1900’s. The press, which weighs approximately 2,500 pounds, is identical to the one brought to San Diego in 1851 by John Judson Ames to print the San Diego Herald, San Diego’s first newspaper. It is also identical to the press brought to Old Town San Diego from San Andreas, California, in 1868 by William Jeff Gatewood and Ed Bushyhead to publish their newspaper, The San Diego Union.

The press required two men (a printer and an inker) to operate. Two pages were printed at a time and a good team could print about 175 sheets per hour. Pages one and four were generally printed on Mondays and contained no current news. Pages two and three were printed on Wednesdays and contained local and current news.

“We’re truly honored to accept this wonderful gift from Papa Doug,” said Bill Lawrence, newly-appointed executive director of the San Diego History Center. “The Washington Hand Press is a treasure and very much a part of our region’s history.”

The Washington Hand Press will become a centerpiece in the launch and expansion of the History Center’s permanent exhibit “San Diego: A Place of Promise” at the San Diego History Center located in the heart of Balboa Park.

Papa Doug Manchester stated, “I am honored to donate the press equipment which will be available for the public to view for eternity. It will not only remind us of the past and our history, but also how news and media has shaped and influenced our lives today and what it will become in the future. My goal is for our community to learn more about newspapers, media and the press and their role in our society. Most importantly, I believe it is important to leave something behind for future generations to learn about and enjoy.”

The Press will become part of the museum’s permanent collection with a special acknowledgement to Papa Doug. The exhibit tells the story of how we became the region we are today and offers opportunities for children to come and learn about the history of San Diego; about 18,000 underserved school children K-12 visit the Center each year to view relics that date back to 10,000 BC. The newly expanded exhibit is tentatively scheduled to open in August 2017.