December 17

“Messrs. L. Johnson & Company had some time previously started The Typographic Advertiser, and the idea suggested itself to us that Western printers also should have an organ or trade paper. Well do we remember the evening on which the idea assumed definite form and the bantling was named. It was in our counting room on Randolph Street, something more than sixteen years ago. . . . Much fun was elicited in selecting a name for the new sheet, many a laughable and absurd one rejected, and finally the old time-honored Printer’s Cabinet settled on. The paper was soon issued, and under the deft hands of the boys was the handsomest sheet then published in the West. It was well received by the fraternity, and from that day to the present, we think, has been a welcome visitor to nearly all the ‘sanctums’ in the West, as, indeed, we hope it long continues to be.”

The Printer’s Cabinet lasted another sixteen years, as did its founder, Sterling P. Rounds, who died on this day in 1888. The sheet never did attain the importance of MacKellar’s Typographic Advertiser as a source of 19th century typographic information, as it contained about eighty percent advertising and its founder lacked the editorial skills of Mr. MacKellar.

Sterling Rounds was a Vermont farm boy who was taken to Wisconsin by his parents when he was but twelve years of age. As a preparation for a career in the law he was sent to an academy run by Louis Harvey, who was later to become Governor of Wisconsin. When Harvey purchased the Southport American, young Rounds received an opportunity to see the inside of a printing office for the first time. He thereby lost interest in his law studies.

By his twenty-first birthday Rounds had become part owner of a literary and temperance sheet, The Old Oaken Bucket, which quickly became a most lucrative enterprise. In 1851 he went to Chicago and persuaded James Langdon, owner of the largest printing plant in Chicago, to take him on as a partner. After several successful years this shop was sold to the Chicago Times, and Rounds opened a printer’s supply business which grew to be the premier enterprise of its kind west of New York City. The firm is said to have completely outfitted over four thousand newspaper offices throughout the West, in addition to hundreds of commercial shops.

Rounds’ reputation in the industry grew until his name was a household word among the fraternity of printers in the land. President Garfield, in response to the urging of over a thousand newspaper owners, appointed Rounds to the position of Public Printer. During his tenure of office, which ended in 1886, after Cleveland became President, Rounds revitalized the GPO, instituting numerous reforms which had long been needed in that establishment. His devotion to the job, however, allowed him little time to attend his own interests, which he had left under the care of his sons in Chicago. The business failed in 1884.

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