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Cardboard Collins

Walker Rumble

Left: Portrait photo of Alexander Washington Collins from The Inland Printer, May 1918 (courtesy of the Berkeley Updike Collection, Providence Public Library). Right: title page from Alexander Lawson’s Press of the Good Mountain edition of Henry Lewis Bullen’s, Only a Compositor, 1962 (from the author’s collection).

The Pittsburgh compositor Alexander Collins (1870–1918) was an ordinary printshop journeyman, never prominent, and he remains obscure. Collins, however, surfaced briefly in the early twentieth century, an appearance that gives us a glimpse at a tradesman’s world on the edge of change. Collins worked for a big-city commercial printing firm. His thirty shopfloor years overlapped those of nineteenth-century industry titans De Vinne and Hoe as well as an emerging group of differently distinguished printers such as Bruce Rogers, Will Ransom, and Dard Hunter. Exceptional twentieth-century printing was shifting from shopfloor to salon. Printerdom, a workplace culture filled with tradesmen like Collins, would change as well. [Read more]

History of the Arrow

Robert J. Finkel

Arrows are nearly everywhere we look. They designate and control the movement of information, people, and machines. However, the use of the arrow as a symbol is thought to be less than four hundred years old. In early maps and diagrams the arrow is often illustrated as a variation of an archer’s arrow complete with point, shaft, and fletching. Over time the arrow becomes increasingly simplified and abstracted to the degree that the only recognizable feature of the original archer’s arrow is simply a triangular point for the head. This endures as the most elementary characteristic of every arrow regardless of its application and meaning. [Read more]

Materialities Conference Program


Materialities of American Texts and Visual Cultures
Columbia University, April 9-10, 2015

An International Symposium Convened by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography. Co-sponsored by the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University, The Bibliographical Society of America, and The American Printing History Association. All events are free and open to public; please rsvp. [Read more]

A Job Printer’s Film, ca. 1955

Paul Moxon

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 9.19.34 AM

Site visitor Anne Farnsworth sent this note:

My family was in the printing industry in New York state for a century. They started out printing milk tickets and evolved into one of the bigger printers of catholic church envelopes. My grandfather made a short film in the 1950’s detailing an average job from start to finish. I’ve uploaded it to Youtube with some commentary. 

2015 APHA Conference Update

Amelia Hugill-Fontanel

The APHA conference program committee is pleased to announce that writer and journalist Alix Christie will be the keynote speaker at the American Printing History Association’s 40th annual conference: “Printing on the Hand Press & Beyond” to be held at RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester NY, October 23–24.  [Read more]

Materialities Conference Shaping Up


“Materialities of American Texts and Visual Cultures”

On April 9–10, 2015, curators, conservators, and scholars from various disciplines will convene at Columbia University to discuss new approaches to American print and visual cultures generated by the recent humanistic interest in materiality. [Read more]

2015 Annual Meeting Summary

Paul Moxon

APHA’s Annual Meeting on January 24 in New York began as usual with officer reports on membership, programs and finances. President McCamant gave his report, saying that 2014 had not been momentous, but “we’re about as strong as we were a year ago in terms of members, and many of our activities are accomplishing very good things.” He praised the website and its developers, but noted that it garners only moderately better traffic than the old one and asked, “Are we failing to back it up with sufficient social media activity? Is there a fundamental disconnect between the subject matter APHA covers and online communication?” (An online content task force is now addressing these concerns. Membership is invited to comment on this post, or privately via the contact page.[Read more]

ISO: Consult on Paper Company Photo Archive

Paul Moxon

Via the contact form:

As a librarian at Plymouth State University, I am seeking the expertise of someone with an interest in industrial papermaking.

Plymouth State is home to a collection of thousands of photographs of the Brown Paper Company of Berlin, NH. A great many of these photographs were taken in the company mills in the early twentieth century and show their papermaking process and equipment. Currently the photographs do not have enough data attached to them to make them easily searchable. Together with two student employees, I have undertaken a project to add information to the photographs to facilitate folks finding and using them.

[Read more]

A Civil War Press Pass for William Conant Church

Joan Boudreau


Fig. 1. Press pass printed by the Army of the Potomac, ca. April 1862 .(Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Graphic Arts Collection)

William Conant Church (1836–1917) of Rochester, New York was known for his newspaper work before, during, and after the American Civil War. He contributed to newspapers such as The New York ChronicleThe Sun (New York), the New York Evening Post, The New York Times, the Army and Navy Journal, and The Galaxy Magazine. [Read more]

2014 Lieberman Lecture Recap

William T. La Moy


Page spread from The Trained Printer and the Amateur: and the Pleasure of Small Books by Alfred W. Pollard, Lanston Monotype Corp., 1929. Title on cover: “New Series of the Centaur types of Bruce Rogers and the Arrighi Italics of Frederic Warde. Cut by Monotype and here first used to print a paper by Alfred W. Pollard.” (RIT Cary Collection)

At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, 17 November, the 2014 Lieberman Lecture sponsored by the American Printing History Association took place at the Melbert B. Cary Jr. Graphic Arts Collection in the Wallace Center at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Professor Herbert H. Johnson delivered an excellent address entitled “History of a Type Design: Centaur by Bruce Rogers. With a Footnote on Its Erstwhile Companion, Arrighi, by Frederick Warde.” Professor Johnson skillfully demonstrated how Rogers was able to orchestrate the association of his roman type with the complimentary one of Warde’s italic font. [Read more]