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Henry Morris

Introductory remarks by Jane Rodgers Siegel

And here we are again. I am Jane Rodgers Siegel, chair of the awards committee. My distinguished colleagues on the committee this year are Cathleen Baker, Michael Russem, and Vic Zoschak.

The criteria for the Individual award read in part: “The Award is for a distinguished contribution to the study, recording, preservation or dissemination of printing history, in any specific area or in general terms.” And the papermaker, printer and publisher Henry Morris has single-handedly contributed to the study, recording, preservation anddissemination of a good bit of printing history.

Sid Berger’s Forty-four Years of Bird & Bull: a Bibliography, 1958-2002, lists 66 items published by Henry Morris, in addition to 45 items printed for others and 37 items of ephemera; to bring us more-or-less up-to-date, I find in Columbia’s catalog eight additional items, including the Bibliography, published since, making 74 items published – so far. Perhaps we’ll hear soon what Henry has up his sleeve now.

Morris started Bird and Bull, one of America’s oldest private presses, in 1958 as an outlet for his new-found interest in hand papermaking – an interest sparked by a piece of fifteenth-century paper. Indeed, his strong interest in the art and history of handmade paper has resulted in a variety of books on Western, Japanese, and Chinese papermaking, and marbled and decorated papers, from Henk Voorn on Old Ream Wrappers (1969) toDard Hunter and Son, by Dard Hunter II (1998), the unforgettably largeNicolas Louis Robert and His Endless Wire Papermaking Machine(2000), and Sid Berger on Karli Frigge’s Life in Marbling (2004). Morris’s 2006 J. Ben Lieberman Memorial lecture describes his belief that “Paper: There wouldn’t be any Printing History without It.”

Bird & Bull has also published on the history of printing and book illustration, including John Feather on English Book Prospectuses (1984) and Gaylord Schanilec on My Colorful Career (1996); works on bookbinding include Bernard Middleton’s Recollections (1995). Henry’s significant collection of typographic numismatics led to several works, including his reprint of William Blades’ Numismata Typographica, the Medallic History of Printing (1992), and to his Trade Tokens of British and American Booksellers and Bookmakers, with Specimens of Eleven Original Tokens Struck Especially for this Book (1989).

Morris’s publishing program has been a boon to the historian of the book. He is correct when he writes “It pleases me to know that without the Bird & Bull, many books on worthwhile, albeit esoteric subjects would probably never have been published.” And all these works have been printed by letterpress from metal type on either Henry’s own handmade or on imported mould-made papers.

Aside from his serious and informative publishing program, Morris has also produced a steady stream of humorous and satirical work. Particularly, his additions to the history of the fictional island nation, the Republic of San Serriffe, have created a parallel and offbeat universe of the book, which many enjoy reading about in its various chronicles, even if we are just as glad we can never actually visit it.

It gives me great pleasure to present the 2007 [sic] American Printing History Association Individual Award for Distinguished Achievement in Printing History to the distinctive – and distinguished – Henry Morris.

The awards were presented during the Annual Meeting of the American Printing History Association, on Saturday, January 28, 2008, New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York City. A reception followed.