You are on page 1of 7

Beginnings in Pennsylvania

 Dealing with provincial affairs, but was still a public sphere in which to raise criticisms, etc.
 When people wanted a printing press in America, it had to bought and transported from
England. We’re not building our own presses, experimenting with our own type, etc. Limits the
amount of printing that can happen. Family dynasties. If the men died, the wife would take over
the business until a son could grow up and keep it going.
 Lots of religious materials (Quakers)
 1685: William Bradford
o Born in England. His father was a printer.
o Apprenticed to Andrew Sowle in England.
 Quaker Printer in London
 Printed Friends’ books
 Through Sowle, he met George Fox and William Penn, as well as other
famous Quakers and he converted.
 Elizabeth Sowle married him.
o First book he printed was an almanac: “America’s Messenger”
o Then in the next book he added a preface: “The Printer to the Readers” in which he says
he’s established a printing press, and apologizes for any mistakes, but he’ll be better in
the future. He was forced to use letters in varying sizes, etc., due to
technological/financial limitations. He says at the end that he’d like to branch out to
other types of documents. Whatever you’d like, he’ll give it a shot.
 Pennsylvania Authorities
 Became upset with him because he uses the undemocratic term “Lord
Penn.” Quakers don’t want that aristocratic nonsense.
 Told him to stamp over what he wrote and put next to it “William Penn,
Proprietor and Governor for six years.” He complied.
 Also commanded that he needed to get special permission for certain
o 1686: Publishes his first Quaker publications, which he probably thought were more
 “A General Epistle”
 “An Epistle to Friends”
o 1687/88:
 Leed’s Almanac
 Authorites deemed too fanciful or farcical. Recalled and destroyed them
all. Gave him 4 pounds for his trouble.
 Philadelphia Fair advertisement
 Setting had been chosen by the gov, but people thought it was too far
away. They complained and took an add out. Many people signed it, but
it was the printer, Bradley, who was reprimanded.
 A Large House Bible – A Common Prayer
 It was going to be the first Bible in North America. Another attempt to
do something safe
 “The Frame of Government” – government publication
 Didn’t add his name to it, so as not to get in trouble. Had so many
typographical errors that the Governor got upset. Thought it was
embarrassing. Even though William Penn had given permission to print
it. Bradley writes back that printing is the manufacture of the nation.”
Governor threatened to levy a 500 pound fine on him. B threatens to go
back to England and take his press with him. The Quakers get nervous.
They give him a salary and promise to buy 200 copies of all of his stuff.
o Partnership with William Rittenhouse, who owned a paper mill.
 Bradford would get varying qualities of paper each year.
o George Keith (surveyor general)
 Kicked out from Quaker meetings. Governor tells him to print an appeal and
apologize. Bradford prints it and puts his name on it. Didn’t get a license to print
it and gets arrested. Jailed until his trial. Makes an argument that the press
should be independent of the authorities. John Peter Zenger will use this
argument later in his own trial.
o Goes to New York to become the “royal printer of New York”

 6 years later, Edward Shippen purchased new equipment from England.
o Hired Reinier Jansen
 “God’s Protecting…” 1699. Story of a shipwreck sells like hotcakes, but it’s
printed terribly.
 Caleb Pusey, “Satan’s Harbinger Encountered”
 Also terrible quality. He also adds an apology at the beginning and says
that he doesn’t really know what he’s doing. Neither do his sons, who
take over the business, and they go broke.
 Return of Bradford
o Publishes Philadelphia laws and the first newspaper in PA: “American Weekly Mercury”
o More trouble with the authorities.
o Widow Cornelia Bradford eventually takes over after his death. Son Andrew takes over
when he’s old enough.
 Ben Franklin
o Begins his apprenticeship.
 Samuel Keimer
o Would hire Franklin, who told John Webb that he wants to make a magazine. He makes
one first. Franklin prints his three days later. Competition instead of working together
and sharing work.

The Post Office
 Printers actively shaped the political debate
 Joseph Adelman: “A constitutional conveyance of intelligence public and private; the post
office, the business of printing, and the American Revolution”
o Movement of information through the public sphere: where the conversation happens
 Post office is an essential part of this
o Merchants relied on the printers for advertising, and to reach a political audience.
 The post office was a network for information. Newpapers would come in from England.
Printers would read them and edit them, reset they type and distribute relevant news to their
 William Goddard
o Philadelphia troublemaking printer
o Hired a special post to ride between Baltimore and Philadelphia to distribute the latest
papers. Emphasized the importance of the post office. Wanted to survive in the printing
business. If they couldn’t get the news, they couldn’t distribute the news.
o Consumerism: the sharing of news due to this new system. Franklin and Goddard
imagined bringing the American colonies into this new post office.
o Established the Philadelphia Chronicle
 Anti-Imperialist. Traveled and met with people in Boston, New York, etc.
Ostensibly to talk about printing: “We all want the new post office” but to do so
would mean getting rid of the current system. It was code for revolution.
 1774: presented a new plan for a postal service to a Boston rebel group. To
establish a constitutional postal system. The post office was a revolutionary
institution. Bottom up institution built on subscribers. Radical departure from
the Imperial post office, but run by the same people. Invited Montreal in, but
didn’t reach the west indies. Franklin proposed that anyone can post their stuff
and be involved. It’s all about WEIGHT. Helped, but there was still a lot of
 Most important institution for the government was the post office, if not the most pervasive.
Something that binds everyone together. Binds the nation together and is a hub for political
news, along with the coffee house, the salon, and tavern (where people got the news they were
 Imperial act: to create a post office to extract $ from the colonies. The post office act was
another way of making money for the crown. Letters were taxed but packages were not. Some
put letters inside empty packages and others had traveling relatives deliver their mail if they
would be in a city they were writing to. People began relying on an informal network/delivery
system to avoid the tax. It ended up having a further reach than the imperial system.
 Benjamin Franklin becomes post master. Now he’s in charge of the imperial system. Very
politically savvy. Now he’s in a position of power and can dole it out. Gotta go to Ben if you
wanna be the post master of another city. When he moves up, he fills the next position. Ben
wouldn’t give Bill G. the job. Gave him a lower position, but Bill was happy. Being a post master
meant that you didn’t have to pay for what you sent, and you would get free newspapers.
 After the seven years war, parliament tried to raise more money. More effective arm of imperial
administration to control the colonies. Censorship increases. Reading of personal letters.
Colonists saw it as a breach of personal privacy.
 Imperial post offices were connected through mainly the coastal cities of the colonies.
 After 1773 personal ad hoc system would fill in the gaps.

 “America: Inventing A Nation”
 Lithography
o How do you construct the documents that are required to list the laws, etc. How do you
disseminate the Bill of Rights, Constitution, etc., across the nation?

Beginning of industrialization
In the 19
century an entirely new era of publishing began. In the book trade, these new
technologies raised output and lowered cost. They changed the way we live and the
way we make things, but keep in mind that this is not technological determinism.
Ancillary industries
Paper made by hand fell to little more than 7%. After 1820, cloth book cases became
used instead of leather. Businesses expanded and competition increased. The
population of the U.S. increased fifteen-fold. Improved means of communication led to
wider distribution. Thirst for all kinds of knowledge, from the religious and scholarly, to
porn, recipes, entertainment, juvenilia, etc.
With the rise of railways, demand rose for reading material. “Railway literature.”
Publishing was now well-established.
Europeans were still the innovators but we were catching up. Literary and intellectual
currents flowed and 600 new titles were published per year by1825. Popular series “lit
for the millions” were published cheaply. Mass production. Cheap reprints, too.
Copyright Issues
Lots of thievery going around. Piracy of British works rose rapidly. Publsihers waited at
the dockside for British books. Sir Walter Scott’s “Peveril of the Peak” was quickly
reprinted without him seeing any of the profits.
It went both ways, though. Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold 1.5 million copies in England. Fusion
of culture, but bad for writers. If you’re flooding the market with cheap British
reproductions American writers can’t compete.
Price Control/Regulation
Once booksellers became distinct from publishers, suicidal price-cutting hurt authors
and publishers. Price regulation was actually in the best interests of the industry. The
net price principle: the bookseller had to agree that the book would be sold to the public
AT LEAST for at the amount it took to create it. By the turn of the 20
century, people
began to form unions/societies, for authors, for printers, etc.
Trade Catalogs
In 1804, there was a catalog of all books printed in the U.S. These all became national
 1797 Lithography
 1780 Stereotyping/Stereography
o Stimulated speed and volume. Started in Paris, making a mold of your page from
wax, etc., then pour metal into that mold. Now you can have ten-fifteen presses
that can make the same page at the same time.
o Application after 1848 of a galvano-plastic (?) material. Same process with new
 Mechanical Press
o 1803 in Germany Frederick Koenig, press was handcranked but the rollers were
mechanized. Mechanizing printing is the easy part, how do you mechanize
 1800 – Linotyping
 Mechanical typesetting

 Shift in the materials used to make presses: from wood to metal.
 Clymer’s Colombian press
o Used a series of weights and counterweights, making it easier for the
printer to press the plate down and remove it.
 Mechanized presses
o From 250 to about 1000 copies an hour
o In 1812, Koenig invented the steam driven printing press, could do 400
prints an hour. Richard Hoe made improvements to his design, it had
one cylinder and it could rotate. Then he created a four cylinder model,
then a ten cylinder. All driven by steam engines.
o Bullock press: roll press. Paper is fed through for continuous printing.
 Stereotyping
1844 Telegraph
1863 Civil War
Pulitzer, yellow journalism
 Embodiment of a different age
 Mechanized typesetting
 James Ogilvie Clethane, stenographer who wanted to copy his work more easily.
Used a lithostone: the image was backwards and could be reproduced
o Worked with Charles T. Moore, who had the idea to do strips.
o Othmar Merganthaler: told them they would have to find a way to use
actual type.
 Recessed letters in bands, can get a line of type, but all the letters
have the same width. Words must single units to be typographically
 Came to America in steerage in 1872. Was the creative genius
behind it.
 Literacy jumped after the linotype. Books and magazines increased as well.
 Beginning in 1886, it spread rapidlu. By 1928, it reigned supreme as the best
thing in the market.
o Whitlow Reid: wanted to sell them faster than Merg could create them.
Merg was a perfectionist, while Reid wanted things ASAP.
o Merg died of TB in his forties. American dream, comes to America with
nothing, changes an industry, and yet no one knows who he was.
 What is the culture that these people work in?
 People who are paid to work by piece. How many rows of type/letters you set.
o As industry modernizes, shift from piecemeal work to clocked work.
 Type composition machine tournament
o Walter Rumble. Race was a story about shop culture. IT was a way of life,
drinking, gambling, and community life. IS it a history of labor though?
Ackert thinks so. Can also look at it in terms of gender. Saloon culture is
not female culture. But Rumble had a problem with looking at it that way.
o Printing employers, typographical unions would get involved. But it was
really about entertainment. The idea of expressive work, showmanship.
 Every composition room had a “speed” person who claimed to be the fastest.
 You had 7 years of apprenticeship before you even became a journeyman.
 McCann(?) got the money to go to America and work in New York. In 1881, he
arrives and got a job at the NY Herald. By 1883 he astonished his shopmates
with his speed.
 George Arensberg
o Bet someone they couldn’t set four trays of type in one hour. Affair drew a
colorful lot.
 Workers became municipal assets, prides to their cities.
 Meets became national.
 Typesetters have to be able to read, but are not high class. In between classes,
 Anti-modern culture. The world is changing, things are leaning towards
automation, but this is just at the edge of that. These were old-world people who
still enjoyed making things with their hands. Should we lament the end or not?
It’s like another way of life. When people stopped hand-setting type, that life was
 Path to fame and celebrity.
 Women did their own contest, and they set more type than men. But it never
went anywhere because these machines came out and changes the
conversation. Should women use these machines? The answer unfortunately
was no.