Do you love dried flowers and antiques? Wait until you see what I found at an antique shop. Step into the world of vintage botanical tools with this unique find: a vintage flower press with a rich backstory in academia.

Flower press How Vintage Meets Academia

What is a Flower Press?

A flower press is a simple device used to preserve and flatten flowers and foliage for various purposes, including crafts, artwork, and botanical documentation. It consists of two flat boards, usually made of wood, and a series of cardboard or blotting paper layers.

Here’s how a flower press works:

  • Preparation: Start by choosing fresh flowers or foliage to press. It’s best to select flowers that are fully bloomed but not overly mature or wilted. Remove any excess leaves or stems from the flowers.
  • Layering: Take one of the flat boards and place a layer of cardboard or blotting paper on top of it. Arrange the flowers and foliage on the paper in a desired pattern or layout. Make sure the flowers do not overlap or touch each other, as this can cause them to stick together during pressing.
  • Pressing: Once the flowers are arranged, place another layer of cardboard or blotting paper on top of them. Repeat this layering process until you have used up all your flowers or foliage. Finally, place the second flat board on top of the layers to create a sandwich-like structure.
  • Securing: Use rubber bands, straps, or clamps to secure the two boards together tightly. This will apply pressure evenly across the flowers, ensuring they are pressed flat. Make sure the press is secured tightly to prevent any movement or shifting during the pressing process.
  • Drying: The flower press should be placed in a dry and well-ventilated area. It’s important to allow the flowers to dry completely to prevent mold or discoloration. The drying time can vary depending on the type of flowers and the humidity levels in your environment. It typically takes a couple of weeks for the flowers to dry completely.
  • Removing: Once the flowers are fully dried, carefully remove them from the press. The flowers and foliage will have been flattened and preserved. They can now be used for various purposes, such as making pressed flower artwork, greeting cards, and bookmarks or incorporating them into crafts and decorations.

It’s a wonderful tool for preserving flowers’ beauty and capturing their delicate details. Pressing flowers allows you to create lasting memories and use them in various creative projects.

Vintage Flower Press Large

A vintage flower press is one that is old or from a previous era. It is often sought after by collectors or individuals who appreciate vintage or antique items. Vintage flower presses can have a nostalgic charm and add a unique touch to the process of pressing and preserving flowers.

Flowers in  vintage Flower Press

A vintage flower press can vary in design and materials used. Some may be made of wood, with intricate carvings or engravings on the surface. Others may have metal components or decorative elements. The screws or straps used to secure the wood may also have a vintage design or be made of different materials than modern flower presses. A vintage flower press is also larger in size versus the newer ones available today.

Have you ever seen a vintage flower press? I recently found one while I was Thrifting with the Gals for just $14.00. I had never seen one before, and I was immediately taken by it. See more in the 38 Antique Flower Arrangements post.

Vintage Student Plant Press

You may also be inspired by this Cottage Farmhouse Decor Trending Finds post.

Vintage Flower Press Meets Academia

Well, I thought it was a vintage flower press, but after getting it home and doing some research, I believe it to be a vintage student plant press. What’s the difference? Let me explain.

Flower Press Vs. Plant Press

A vintage plant press is a device used to flatten and preserve plant specimens, including leaves, stems, and flowers. Similar to a flower press, a plant press is typically made of two flat surfaces held together with screws or straps. However, a plant press is designed to accommodate larger and bulkier plant materials.

Overall, a vintage plant press is a unique and charming tool for preserving and studying plant specimens, which is where this vintage plant press meets academia.

Vintage Student Plant Press with fern

Wards Science

This vintage plant press is marked Ward’s Natural Science Establishment, Inc. Rochester, NY.

Today, the company is known as Ward Science, providing high-quality educational learning tools to all grade levels. (I appreciate this world very much, as before retiring, I spent 5 years selling educational textbooks and software to secondary schools and another 12 years selling Apple’s educational technology programs). Therefore, I have a great appreciation for all the tools that help educate students today.

Vintage Student Plant Press with Ward's Science Label.

I haven’t been able to find another plant press like this one anywhere online.

But after researching Ward’s Natural Science Establishment further, it would make sense that this would be a student plant press that Wards Science would have sold into schools, not a consumer flower press.

Wards Student Plant Press

The Wards Science Student Plant Press is a specific plant press designed for student use in botanical studies and plant specimen preservation. It is commonly used in educational settings.

The Wards Science Student Plant Press typically consists of a wooden frame with cardboard or blotting paper inserts. The frame is held together by straps or screws that allow for adjustable pressure to be applied to the plant specimens.

One Vintage Student Plant Press

This type of plant press is specifically designed for students and beginners in botany to learn about plant preservation and study. It is often used in schools and universities as a hands-on tool for collecting and preserving plant specimens for scientific observation and analysis.

The Wards Science Student Plant Press is portable, making it convenient for fieldwork and outdoor excursions. It allows students to flatten and dry plant specimens, which can then be stored and used for later reference or research.

Using a plant press like the Wards Science Student Plant Press enables students to develop skills in plant identification, documentation, and understanding of plant anatomy. It provides a practical and interactive learning experience in the field of botany.

Vintage Student Plant Press straps. Close Up

Vintage Student Plant Press Features

Because this student plant press does not come with actual dates stamped on it, it’s hard to know its age for sure. However, based on a few features, I suspect it is vintage and over 20 years old:

  • The web strapping on the plant press, used to tighten the press itself with flowers and plants inside, is a classic example of an old military bag. It is not made of modern materials, such as nylon, with plastic web strap clips.
  • The web strapping clips are worn and rusted metal.
  • The inside cardboard and paper that retains the plants and flowers for pressing are aged with the moldings of pressed flowers and plants. Appearing to be very old in nature.

I just love the natural wood, finish, and all of the little vintage details that make up this old student plant press.

Vintage Student Plant Press

Best Flower Press

I haven’t pressed a flower since I was a young girl. And I’m not super crafty.

But for me, this is the best flower press ever!

Vintage Flower Wooden Book with Flowers

As I use this as a vintage flower press rather than for plants, it resides in my craft room, and I couldn’t love it more.

See more of our craft room in the Vintage Eclectic Decor Meets Craft Room Design post.

Vintage Student Plant Book with Flower and Leaf

I’ve been dabbling with drying seasonal flower blooms with my new find, but I don’t have anything that I’m quite ready to share with you just yet. Here’s a sneak peek.

Overall, a vintage flower press or student plant press can be a charming and unique tool for drying and preserving flowers. It combines the practicality of flower pressing with the beauty and nostalgia of vintage craftsmanship.

See how my friend, Rachel from The Ponds Farmhouse, created her own flower press in the Easy Flower Press: Upcycle Scrap Wood To Preserve Botanicals post.

You may also like this Vintage Botanical Mantel post.

Wards Student modern day educational tool for Botanist

Wards Science sells its modern-day version of its student plant press here.

I think I like the vintage one I found a little bit better… What do you think?

Gratefully Vintage

If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below. And be sure to share this blog post link with your friends who are also vintage enthusiasts.

Do you have a flair for all things vintage, too? I would love to see and feature you in our Reader’s Showcase Series. A place for you to share and be recognized for your talents and passion for all things thrifting, vintage, and antique decor-related inspired by your time here with Dabbling & Decorating. Email me at annck@dabblinganddecorating.com

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Flower press How Vintage Meets Academia
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13 Comments

  1. Lora Bloomquist says:

    What an awesome find, Ann, and for such a steal! I’d love to find one just like it. Can’t wait to see how your dried flower crafting goes; I think I could get into that. Great vintage history lesson too. Enjoy your treasure!

  2. Cindy@CountyRoad407 says:

    What a wonderfully fantastic find! I would love to get my hands on one of those presses. So glad you shared it because if I actually came across one I wouldn’t know what it was! Thank you for joining us. This is amazing. pinned

    1. Thanks so much Cindy, isn’t it such a neat find? I didn’t know what it was either but the price tag grabbed me at $14 so I leaned in more! Love joining you and thanks for having me along!

  3. Debra@CommonGround says:

    This is such a gorgeous and amazing vintage piece. I used to save flowers into old books then stack them up to press them. You’ve inspired me to get at it again. Happy Spring Week, Ann!!!

    1. Thanks Debra, I’m so glad, I’ve never pressed many flowers, so I’ve been having some fun with this one. Happy day and thanks for dropping by!

  4. What an exciting find, Ann! Your antique press is beautiful. I’ve never tried to press flowers before so I can’t wait to see how they come together. Everything you chose is really pretty! Hope you’re spring is off to a great start, CoCo

  5. Sharon Archer says:

    A great post on the first day of spring. I loved to dry beautiful flowers even before I had children , still have my old press and a large book that I used too. When my daughter got married I found this company across the pond that framed wedding announcements with the bride’s flowers . What a treasure to see her wedding picture along side her invitation .
    I truly love reading your blog plus Rachel’s and all the other women sharing their love.
    Honor the things that make your heart sing..

    1. Thank you so much Sharon, I appreciate that so much. What a wonderful idea, I love that, thanks for sharing and joining us here on the blog. Happy Spring!

  6. I love this, can’t wait to see how you use your dried flowers. Just this weekend I placed some Johnny Jump Ups in the pages of a heavy book. I regret getting rid of my flower press when we moved 7 years ago. Forty years ago was a season of life where I regularly attended wedding showers so I decided to have a signature gift to make my busy life a little easier. I made a set of pillow cases trimmed with Irish lace along with 2 crystal candle sticks and then white tapers that I decorated with dried flowers for each bride to be. The candles were always a really big hit. Over the years I made pressed flower cards and place cards too. My press was small with long screws that you tightened with wing nuts. Thanks for renewing my interest in this lovely craft.

    1. Wow Pamela, your ideas sound just amazing, I’m so glad you feel renewed, that’s what this is all about, inspiring one another. Thanks so much for dropping by and I’m so glad you enjoyed today’s post!

  7. Rachel Harper says:

    Ann
    What a find. I just made a flower press and can’t wait to see how my blooms turn out. Great post.