Where is it Today?
by Floyd D. P. Øydegaard

After looking over many old 1856 Columbia Gazette Newspapers, I noted an image of an "acorn press" in the columns. My assumption was that the "dingbat" was most likely supplied to the printer with his press and type. No records have come to my attention that describe or name the type of "country press" that may have had extensive use in Columbia. Rumors and sketchy paperwork mentioned an old "Acorn" that was in the press museum for years and that it ended up in Sacramento or Placeville for a time. What I eventually learned is the following.

The press was brought around the Horn by Sam Brannan on the ship "Brookly" early in the year 1846. After being set up in an old grist mill, it was first used for printing proclamations, official documents, etc. It was assumed that this Acorn printing press was used by early California newspapers and believed by a former owner of the "Placer Herald", to have been the Sam Brannan press which printed the San Francisco "Star" in 1847. (This weekly paper was actually the California Star started January 9th, 1847 by Sam Brannan. It was the first San Francisco weekly.).

In 1850, it was taken to Marysville, and in 1852 moved to Auburn where it was used for printing the "Placer Herald." (This weekly paper started September 11th, 1852 by R. Rust and T. Mitchell).

The records show that the press was loaned to Sutters Fort possibly as early as the 1930's. The formal records show transfer to Columbia in 1973, maybe earlier if they were back-filing the necessary forms. The press was transfered from Columbia January 26th, 1977. The curator at Auburn Courthouse stated that after leaving Columbia the Press was returned to the family and it was used for a while at a college, the National Park Service had it on loan, as well as the Oakland Museum. Auburn currently has it on a five year loan.

Thanks to the efforts of Columbia archivist Thonni Morikawa and Lisa Smithson, for the above updated information. The so-called Brannan Press is currently located at the Courthouse in Auburn at the Placer County Courthouse. (New information as of Dec. 2006).

It seems that the Acorn in Placerville is no longer highlighted. But do take a look at this site Howard Iron Works in Oakville, ON showing an Adams Acorn c 1832 (Newest information as of Dec. 2018).


The press received its name from the shape of the frame. Like the "Washington Press" (1821 -ca.1910) "nickname" for the Palmer & Rey, it was a generic name for many presses with that same basic frame design. Here are a few "acorn" framed presses:

  • The Stansbury Press 1820-1885
    It operated on a "torsion toggle"
  • The Smith Press 1821-1890
    It operated on a "toggle joint" or as it was called by the inventor: "wedge power"
  • The Tufts Press 1831-1837
    It operated on a "knuckle joint" (These are rare presses)
  • The Adams Press 1831-1859
    It operated on an "equal length toggle"
    More on the Columbia Gazette

    Intent of Building.

    The Historic Press.

    The Palmer & Rey Press.

    The History of the Building.

    Columbia's Editors and Newspapers.

    History of Columbia's Newspapers 2.

    This page is created for the benefit of the public by
    Floyd D.P. Øydegaard

    Email contact:
    fdpoyde3 (at) yahoo (dot) com

    created for the visitors to the Columbia State Historic park.
    © Columbia State Historic Park & Floyd D. P. Øydegaard.