Block leveller



The Block leveller was created by Horace W Hacker. His patent filled in 1924. Its use, milling stock to type high .918″. Produced by his firm, Hacker Manufacturing, (Horace Hacker Co) they were bought out in 1937 by Vandercook & Sons. The rebadged Hacker, was named the Vandercook Block leveller and its design was then licensed out to F.A.G for the European market.


The Block Leveller is powered by a two-motor system that operates on three-phase power. One motor spins the bed, while the other drives the planer head. The planer head to follows one spiral path, terminating at the axis of the bed. Another spiral path commences at the edge of the bed, its convolutions intervening between the convolutions of the first spiral path. The planer blades follows the second spiral path, cleaning up the chatter left behind from its first spiral path. This innovative system allowed for a more efficient and precise milling process, which is why the machines became a staple in the printing industry. Hundreds of these machines were made over the years. However, after the commercial decline of letterpress, most of them were discarded, with very few surviving examples known left today.


Database Of Levellers


New in 1962 it cost £2805. The price of the average house in the uk.

At todays rate £48,195. The cost of a typical UK home in 2023 £281,272 

There are currently thirteen known to have survived, ten of them in the United States. Four Polytypes, in Europe. If you know of any hiding please drop a message.

NOBrand/ModelSerial number Studio/Location  
1F.A.G – BL.453207016Tribune Showprint – USA, Muncie, Indiana 
2Vandercook – 1115006Gurzopress – USA, New Jersey  
3TBC (Broken)TBCLetterpress Depot – USA, Colorado 
4TBCTBCThe International Printing Museum – USA, California 
5Vandercook – 1118590Virgin Wood Type – USA, Rochester 
6Hacker (modified)16894Moore Wood Type – USA, Ohio 
7Vandercook – 11TBCThe Red Door Press – USA, Iowa 
8TBCTBC(Private) USA, Cincinnati 
9TBCTBC(Private) USA, NYC 
10Vandercook – 11 (XL)LostTivoli Press – UK, Gloucestershire 
11F.A.GTBCTiporenesansa – Slovenia 
12Vandercook – 109862J Finch (Machinist) – USA, Palmer Lake, Colorado 
13F.A.GTBCImprimerie Nationale 


Polytype Levellers


NOBrand Serial number Studio/Location
1Polytype PF 635021Baby Ink Twice, Switzerland
2Polytype V7211306Museum Der Arbeit, Germany, Hamburg
3Polytype TBCBland Typer & Tryck
4Polytype TBCHacking Gutenberg 

The Polytype PF 63 does not have a powered bed like the Hacker design. It does have a vacuum connected to the planner head.





PDF Manual




Leveller Gallery



Parts List


Replaceable Parts:Item numberDescription
Drive BeltAX63Cogged V Belt


Mill Ends



Preparing Wood Stock (Moore Methood)


Adverts Of Other Levellers (Planner)



Hamilton Patents



Planner Gallery