A Printer’s Almanac

"A Printer’s Almanac" by Alexander S. Lawson

Publisher: Philadelphia : North American Publishing Company
Year: 1966
Description: 2 v. illus. (part fold.; part col.) facsims., ports. 27 cm.

Also cited as The Heritage of the Printer: volume 1 by James Russell Eckman, 1965; volume 2 by Alexander S. Lawson, 1966 (also has a special title: A Printer’s Almanac)


The basic idea for compiling an almanac for printers came about by indirection some years ago when I began preparations for a class in the development of printing types. After accumulating a file of about sixty dates encountered in my day-to-day reading, it occurred to me that it might be possible to assemble a short essay for each day of the year. Within two years I had collected almost two hundred dates, along with a drawer full of notes and the first draft of some three dozen essays.

The project was now advanced when in 1965 I was granted a six-month Professional Growth and Development Leave from the School of Printing of the Rochester Institute of Technology. During this leave it was possible for me to devote my full time to the search for historical data and to the writing of the balance of the essays.

I have made no conscious effort to limit the scope of the almanac to any particular specialty within the field of graphic arts, but—since I am a teacher of typography—that subject is perhaps better represented than any other. However, it is the craft of the printer, in all its aspects, which is here depicted. During a period when that craft is undergoing fundamental changes, it seems to me important that a long and honor-able history be remembered, and that the contributions of so many of its practitioners be brought forth once again to demonstrate that it is to them that we owe a debt for the continuing progress of a fascinating calling.

I am indebted to many individuals and organizations for their help in obtaining source material for this volume and for permission to quote various passages. To Mr. Paul A. Bennett, guiding genius of the Typophiles, for quotes from several of the Typophile Chap Books, in the essays of February 7, March 7, March 20, September 14, November 8, and December 23; Mrs. Helen Macy of the Limited Editions Club for the quotation (July 6) from Towards A Reform of the Paper Currency Particularly in Point of Its Design, by William A. Dwiggins; Mr. Alfred A. Knopf for permission to quote from Newspaper Days, 1899–1906, by H.L. Mencken (September 12), and from Some Random Recollections by Alfred A. Knopf (October 21); Harvard College Library Department of Printing and Graphic Arts for permission to quote from WAD to RR (July 21); New York Public Library for the quote from The Printer’s Widow (April 21); The World Publishing Company for the paragraph from Pi, A Hodge-Podge of the Letters, Papers and Addresses Written During the Last Sixty Years, by Bruce Rogers (October 24); and Harper & Row for the quote from Disturber of the Peace by William Manchester (March 20).

I also wish to thank the kind people in the library of the Rochester Institute of Technology, who were ever willing to be helpful during the long period of research in the preparation of my notes. Finally, the contributions of my wife, Evelyn T. Lawson, were vital to the successful completion of the project. Without the long hours of reading, typing, and checking of sources to which she unstintingly lent her enthusiasm, the work would indeed have languished.

Alexander S. Lawson
Pittsford, New York

The Heritage of the Printer, Volume II, A Printer’s Almanac, has been designed and set by Typekrafters, Inc., Philadelphia, Pa. The Linotype-composed text is 9 point Times Roman, 2 point leaded. The display typography is Ludlow Mayfair Cursive. The book was printed letterpress by The Winchell Company, Philadelphia, Pa. The paper is 60 lb. Warren’s No. 66 Antique Publishers White. Binding, in cloth pyroxylin impregnated Holliston Roxite, with stamping in black and gold, is by National Publishing Company, Philadelphia, Pa. Illustrations are by North American Publishing Co. art staff.