Some books about printing and the printers what printed them

Pioneer Printer- Samuel Bangs in Mexico and Texas by Lota M. Spell, university of Texas Press, 1963

Former library book with dust jacket and owner/donor’s bookplate. Stamped withdrawn from Wellesley Free Library in Mass. I guess they don’t care about Texas printers in Massachusetts anymore. An “insight into the life of Samuel Bangs, the man who printed or help to print the first document known to have issued in that form in Texas”. I think he deserves to be remembered just for dragging a printing press to Texas in 1819. I have been hoping to come across the biography of a successful and wealthy early printer, but this is not that book. This is a detailed historical narrative and just as interesting to fans of Texas is it is to fans of early pioneer printers.

The Story of The McGuffeys, by Alice Ruggles, 1950. Tan cloth, red/yellow endbands, nice clean binding with bonus material in the back! Remember Emmett Horine from the last post? Glued in the back is the original invoice from the American Book Company with Emmett’s name spelled every which way wrong, along with a letter, which is a folded flyer? advert? order form mailed to him postmarked Cambridge, Mass with a two cent stamp, on which is handwritten “From Mrs. Ruggles”.

This is a memoir written by a granddaughter of the author of the great McGuffey readers. I love these old readers, with their big words and real stories – so much better than the Dick and Jane books of my old school.   As the author says, “tastes were nearly pampered nor stinted. Madness, torture, and death were considered suitable subjects for older children, if expressed with force or beauty. So they had “The Maniac,” “The Crazy Engineer,” “Conflagration of an Amphitheatre,” and the horrific scene between Hubert and Little Prince Arthur in “King John.” But they were luckier than the modern child. The reading of the horrors stimulated the imagination but left it free to work. The child who sits before a moving picture has all his imagining done for him.” Yeah, that seems about right.

Printing In The Americas, Oswald, 1937. Cloth hardcover. Inside is written “Store Copy” in pencil with a small purple sticker or bookbinder’s ticket from Bertrand Smith’s Acres Of Books in Cincinnati. A nice copy of a most exact history of printing in the Americas with illustrations. Just like in the USA Today, you can look up the first known printers in your own state! For myself, I wish there were still an Acres Of Books to visit, except that I would probably wind up buying more books and you see what kind of trouble that gets me into.

Printing in Delaware 1761 – 1800, by Eval Rink,  1969. Nice blue cloth hardcover with blue and yellow endbands and small tear to dust jacket. Not so much a narrative but a list of various printers in Delaware for the years mentioned. Let’s pick something at random. “127. Wade, Francis. Advertisement. To the inhabitants of the Delaware State [concerning horse thieves, deserters, and George Evans’ illegal sale of public flour. ..]” ah, The good men do goes with them to their graves, the illegal sale of public flour is remembered forever.

Early American Books and Printing, by Winterich, 1935. Good red cloth hardcover, damaged dust jacket. Name and date inscribed on fly leaf, otherwise clean. The author states that the work should be considered not so much as a definitive reference as a guide to sources. Would really distinguishes this work is the wonderful writing style of the author, such as this description of a group of books including five copies do the Bay Psalm book: “Prince willed his collection to Old South, and it remained in the steeple for a century, accumulating dust, prestige, and value. ”

William Caxton & His Work by Winship, Book Arts Club, University of California Berkeley 1937.  Pretty turquoise cloth hardcover with dust jacket, one of the 525 copies printed on Wayside Text paper. It contains a preface by the author, a preface to a letter from the author about his Caxton paper, the 1937 letter itself, addressed to the Book Arts Club, followed by the 1908 Caxton paper itself. Again, let’s enjoy a quotation. “La Tour Landry composed his book ‘for the enseygnement and techyng of his doughters’…’which boke is comen to my hands by the request and desire of a noble lady which hath brought forth many noble and fair doughters which ben vertuoysly nourished and lerned.’ ”

Dr. Johnson’s Printer – The Life of William Strahan by J.A. Cochrane, 1964. Nice pink cloth hardcover with dust jacket, very clean. I’ll just quote the blurb: ” William Strahan was one of the leading figures in the booktrade of the 18th century. As Kings printer, a member of Parliament and the owner of the greatest printing house in London he stood at the head of his craft: in addition to his long friendship and business connection with Johnson, he was the publisher of given Adam Smith human and Robertson. His intimacy with Benjamin Franklin Led him to extend to America his lively interest in politics as well as trade… Strahan was an admirable letter writer, and his correspondence with authors, booksellers and printers touches on many problems still relevant today – the earnings of writers, best sellers and flops, price cutting and piracy, long credit and bad debts. The book is thus a portrait of the booktrade at a particularly interesting stage of its development as well as the story of a remarkable career.” It’s true – Strahan’s letters are a window onto a fascinating era.


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