August 23

An advertisement in the New York Journal of this date in 1787 stated: “Mr. John Baine & Grandson, Letter-Founders, “Lately from Edinburgh, Having concluded to establish their Typefoundery at Philadelphia, removed to that city, on the 18th inst. with their founding machinery, leaving, at Mr. David Mitchelson’s corner of Fly-Market and Water-street, the following Founts of Types, For Sale, At the annexed prices, sterling money, viz.

1 Fount of Small Pica 373 lb. at 1s. 2d.
1 Ditto Long Primer 363 lb. at 1s. 6d.
1 Ditto Brevier 276 lb. at 2s. 6d.
Ready Cash or no Purchase.”

After observing for a number of years that the business of selling type in the American colonies was most lucrative, a Scotsman named John Baine decided that opportunity beckoned any enterprising typefounder who dared an Atlantic crossing. He was at that time 73 years of age, and had been a founder for most of his life, having established such a business in St. Andrews, Scotland in partnership with Alexander Wilson, considered to be the finest of Scottish typefounders.

The New World venture was productive, as there were at that period no foundries serving the growing printing industry in the young Republic. Although no specimen book was issued it is known that type cast by John Baine and his grandson was used in a number of important books printed in the United States, including Mathew Carey’s Bible and the Encyclopaedia of Thomas Dobson. The elder Baine died in 1790.His grandson continued to cast type, though reluctantly, as he made several attempts to sell the foundry. He finally did so in 1799 to his fellow Scotsmen, Archibald Binny and James Ronaldson.

William McCulloch, a contemporary Philadelphia printer, in his account to Isaiah Thomas, the printing historian, says of the Baines: “Old Mr. Bayne was an original mechanical genius, and is said to have been the first that communicated any insight into the arcana of type founding to Wilson, of Glasgow. Bayne, in his knowledge of the art, like Fox and Bey, was self-taught. All that he accomplished was by his own genius?

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