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Linotype Invented and Built in Baltimore

Steve Cole


The lost Mergenthaler factory, ca. 1890, Locust Point, Baltimore. Image courtesy of RIT Press.

Baltimore, Maryland, is well known as the birthplace of the typesetting machine that revolutionized publishing: the Linotype, invented by German immigrant Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1886. However, it has not been widely recognized that Baltimore also played a pivotal role as the original manufacturing center for the machine that replaced Gutenberg’s handset typesetting method, a mechanical marvel that Thomas Edison called “the eighth wonder of the world.” [Read more]

Conference Registration is Open

Sara T. Sauers

APHA’s 40th Annual Conference, Printing on the Handpress & Beyond, hosted by the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection is now open for registration. Workshops, tours, demonstrations, lectures, famous printing presses, excursions in Rochester and Upstate New York, a vendor fair, and great camaraderie all await you! Printing on the Handpress & Beyond will examine and show you the creative ways these earliest printing machines are employed today by printers, artists, scholars, and educators. Program information and registration are now available.

ISO: Registration of Bank Notes

Alan M. Levitt

Fig. 1. Continental Congress 1779 $55

Fig. 1. Continental Congress 1779 $55

Perhaps some member, or other reader, might be able to provide some elusive information that I have yet been able to uncover. I am preparing a paper, “How technology, engineering, innovation and ingenuity have been used to deter counterfeiting, imitation or alteration of American paper money (1690–2015)” for publication in the International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology. The focus of the paper is on printing technologies. [Read more]

ISO: Colonial Printing Practice

Site Visitor

Via the contact form:

Hello — I am working on a short biography/history book for children that describes the night John Dunlap printed the broadside announcing independence, looking closely at each detail: the Caslon types he used, the paper, the ink. I have read everything available, or tried to. Is there someone I could speak to who might be able to suggest other titles about printing history and the conditions of the day, or someone who could direct me to a press similar to Dunlap’s so that I might try setting type and pulling a proof for myself? Thanks, Jenny Green


2015 Conference Speakers Announced

Amelia Hugill-Fontanel


The speaker roster for “Printing on the Hand Press & Beyond,” is now confirmed. APHA’s Fortieth Annual Conference will be held at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York from October 22 to 24, 2015. Pre-conference workshops will take place on Thursday, October 22. A vendor fair and the keynote address will kick off the full conference on Friday, October 23. Saturday will bring several tracks of presentations which draw from the expertise of an international group of printers, educators, designers, and historians. Registration information will be forthcoming soon!

An Amazing, Wonderful, Forgotten Tool

Sidney E. Berger


The Monotype Space Maker (Sidney E. Berger).

I know what it means to be out of sorts. As a young printer in the 1970s I was setting up my own press. I ordered Bembo in two sizes and the spacing material and got started. One of my first projects was a wonderful poem by Thom Gunn, Lament, that I turned into a small book. It was about 150 lines, and I ran out of word spaces—3-to-ems. I tried 4-to-ems, but that set the words too tightly, and I didn’t want to have to use thins (like a brass or two coppers) to make up the added space. The only solution was to call the foundry from whom I had bought the type and get some more spaces. It took time for my check to get to them, and time for the spacing matter to get to me, and in the meantime I walked past my press a dozen times wishing I could get to work. [Read more]

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

Site Visitor

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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.