April 11

“We cordially wish every book, job, or newspaper printer in America, north, east, west, and south, to consider himself on our free list; and if any time our paper fails to reach him, let him acquaint us with the mishap, and we will do what we can to remedy the evil.”

Thus were the printers of the land introduced to Volume 1, Number 1 of Typographic Advertiser, mailed to them on this day in 1855. Edited by Thomas MacKellar, a partner in the Philadelphia typefoundry, L. Johnson & Company, this quarterly became the first important periodical to be published for the American printing industry. Some ten years earlier, a monthly specimen sheet bearing the same title had been edited by Samuel Dickinson, the Boston typefounder, but it lasted but a few months. Another quarterly, Ink Fountain, published by Lay and Brothers of Philadelphia, was more successful, being first issued in 1852 and continuing until 1856.

The Typographic Advertiser was successful primarily because its editor was a first-rate printer, a typefounder of note, and a man with an unbounded enthusiasm to share his love of the printing craft with anyone who had the time to listen to him, in person or in print. He remained as editor until 1884, when he relinquished the task to his son, William B. MacKellar, who finally allowed the periodical to lapse in 1897. For forty-two years the periodical was one of the principal sources of communication among printers, although it contained more advertising for the sponsor than it did editorial columns. It was through the medium of these columns that MacKellar became one of the widest-known personalities in the industry.

In addition to providing “hints to the trade” and a few items of news, Editor MacKellar indulged in his fondness to versify. The very first issue contained a bit of doggerel, entitled The Printer:

A mental lamp hung out beside life’s wayside

Unnoticed: yet his unpretending ray

Shines clearly on man’s intellectual way,

And proves to pilgrims an unfailing guide.

He hath within a worthy sort of pride.

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