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Is the Medium the Message?

Misha Beletsky


Interior spread of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, one of the 39 volumes of the Letterpress Shakespeare, published by The Folio Society, London. Source:

In Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, the Great Seal of England was used as a nutcracker by the impostor prince. It sometimes feels like we use the heritage of the past in a similar way. It does solve the problem at hand, yet it could do considerably more. [Read more]

Letter from NYC

Robert McCamant


Two masters: Theodore Low De Vinne and Stan Nelson. Photo by Paul Romaine.

There was plenty of printing history all over town during the first few days of April. The main attraction was the New York Antiquarian Book Fair from the 3rd through the 6th. But there was also a demonstration at the Grolier Club by type historian Stan Nelson, timed to go with the De Vinne exhibit there, curated by Irene Tichenor [APHA president 1998–2002] and Michael Koenig. And then, for current practitioners and collectors of letterpress, there was a Fine Press Book Fair (sponsored by FPBA) at the Altman building on Saturday and Sunday. [Read more]

An Update on RIT’s Newest (and Heaviest) Acquisition

Amelia Hugill-Fontanel

This fragment was discovered after removing the old packing on the tympan of the Kelmscot/Goudy Albion Press.

This fragment was discovered after removing the old packing on the tympan of the Kelmscott/Goudy Albion Press.

The Kelmscott/Goudy Albion press arrived at RIT on January 13, 2014. It had been expertly packed and carefully shipped 300 miles from Manhattan to Rochester, making what would hopefully be its last long-distance journey. The press has received a warm welcome at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection, with classes, friends, and reporters visiting to catch a glimpse of the famous machine, even while still disassembled. [Read more]

Reclaiming S.A. Jacobs: Polytype, Golden Eagle, and Typographic Modernism

Walker Rumble


Samuel A. Jacobs was an American printer and a book designer. His work during the 1920s and 1930s placed Polytype Press and, later, Golden Eagle Press among elite modernist limited-edition printing establishments. Over those years, the American Institute of Graphic Arts selected a dozen of Jacobs’s books among its annual “Fifty Books of the Year.” Glenway Wescott’s Natives of Rock (1925) was one such book, the Covici-Friede edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1930) was another. [Read more]

A Wayzgoose Tale

Rick von Holdt


It was the June of 1993 and the Amalgamated Printers’ Association Wayzgoose was in Keithsburg, Illinois. A very small, rural community on the Mississippi River. So small, in fact, that there were no motels/hotels within a half an hour’s drive. The deal that year was that folks could come and camp, or rooms and cabins in town would be rented out for the weekend to the adventurous. Nearly everyone went that route. [Read more]

The De Vinne Centennial

Irene Tichenor

device color2

Designed by architect George Fletcher Babb, this device was first used it as a motif in the terra-cotta cartouche at the entrance of the De Vinne Press Building. Appearing on De Vinne Press imprints from 1886 on, it depicts a tablet bearing a saying of Prometheus in Greek: “and further I discovered for them [i.e., mankind] numeration, most striking of inventions, and composition, nurse of the arts, producer of the record of all things.” This color version is from the title page of the De Vinne Press 1907 type specimen.

No one has earned a place in the annals of American printing history more solidly than Theodore Low De Vinne (1828–1914). His encyclopedic understanding of the craft, his advancement of its technology and design, his appreciation of its history, his business leadership, and his many writings earned him, among his contemporaries, the designation “Dean of American Printers.” [Read more]

L. Elizabeth Upper Awarded the 2014 Mark Samuels Lasner Fellowship

Jane Rodgers Siegel

2014 Mark Samuels Lasner Fellowship Committee Report

I would like to thank my fellow committee members: Hosea Baskin, antiquarian bookseller of Northampton, Massachusetts; and Richenda Brim, a librarian at the Getty Research Institute and a letterpress printer, for their good work. There was a strong field of proposals, and diverging opinions on the committee, but one proposal strongly appealed to all three of us. The 2014 Mark Samuels Lasner Fellowship is awarded to Elizabeth Upper for her proposal, “The Earliest Artifacts of Color Printing: Early Modern Frisket Sheets, c.1490-c.1620.” [Read more]

Annual Meeting Recap

Paul Romaine


APHA’s Individual Achievement Award is presented to Roger Stoddard (left) and the Institutional Achievement Award is presented to David R. Godine (right) by APHA President Robert McCamant. Photos by Joel Mason.

With the American Printing History Association meeting and reception, Bibliography Week in New York comes at an end. Good fun, good talks, and good fellowship! Congratulations to our new officers Sara T. Sauers Vice-President for Programs, and trustees Jae Rossman, Haven Hawley and Fran Durako; as well as thanks to outgoing officers Kitty Maryatt for Programs and trustees Carl Darrow and Joan Friedman. [Read more]

Penn Connections: Provost William Smith’s Sermon on “the Death of a Beloved Pupil,” Printed by Ben Franklin in 1754

Eric Marshall White


A Sermon Occasioned by the Death of a beloved Pupil by William Smith, Inscribed half-title (left) and title page with mourning border (right). Bridwell Library Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. Posted in honor of Franklin who was born January 17, 1706.

For many people, the most interesting rare books are those whose histories reveal authentic connections to known people, institutions, or events. One such book is Bridwell Library’s copy of a sermon printed in 1754 on the occasion of the death of a student at the Academy of Philadelphia, the first incarnation of what is today the University of Pennsylvania (my alma mater). It was printed by Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), founder of the Academy, and inscribed by its author, Rev. William Smith (1727–1803), who soon became the first Provost of that Academy, for presentation to a fellow educator back in England. The inscription on the half-title page reads: “The Author / To the rev. Dr. Green Master of / Bennet College, Cambri[dge] / Philadelphia / Oct r. 19th. 1754.” A brief review of the circumstances surrounding this inscribed pamphlet reveals both an intriguing personal drama and early connections between academic life and the printing press in colonial America. [Read more]

Call for Proposals 2014

Kitty Maryatt

The American Printing History Association (APHA) with the Friends of Dard Hunter (FDH) announce our new (ad)venture: Joint Annual 2014 Conference in San Francisco, California from Thursday, October 16 to Saturday, October 18, 2014 at San Francisco Center for the Book. Proposals are due by March 15, 2014. PDF
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