October 27

Those printers who are interested in the equipment of a printing office in the American colonies during the 18th century are indebted to Benjamin Franklin for a concise list of materials which he helped to secure for the establishment of such an office. In a letter posted from Philadelphia on this date in 1753, Franklin wrote to William Strahan:

“I am now about to establish a small Printing Office in favour of another Nephew, at Newhaven in the Colony of Connecticut in New England; a considerable Town in which there is an University, and a Prospect that a Bookseller’s Shop with a Printing House may do pretty well. I would therefore request you to bespeak for me of Mr. CasIon, vis

300 lb Longprimer, with Figures and signs sufficient for an Almanack
300 lb Pica
100 lb English
100 lb Great Primer
60 lb Double Pica
50 lb Two line English
40 lb Two line Great Primer
30 lb Two line Capitals, & Flowers of different Founts
20 lb Quotations

“As Mr. Caslon has different Long-primers, Picas, &c. I beg the Favr. of your Judgment to chuse & order the best.

To which add,
A compleat good new Press
2 pair Blankets
2 pair Ballstocks
Some Riglets, Gutter Sticks, Side Sticks, Quoins, &c.
3 pair Chases of different Sizes, the biggest Demi
2 folio Galleys with 4 Slices
2 Quarto Galleys
A few Facs, Head & Tail pieces, 3 or 4 of each
2 Doz brass Rule
2 good Composing Sticks
2 Cags of Ink, one weak the other strong

“If you can persuade your Pressmaker to go out of his old Road a little, I would have the Ribs made not with the Face rounding outwards, as usual, but with a little hollow or rounding inwards from end to end: And the Cramps made of hard cast Brass, fix’d not across the Ribs, but longways so as to slide in the hollow Face of the Ribs. The Reason is, that Brass and Iron work better together than Iron & Iron; Such a Press never gravels; the hollow Face of the Ribs keeps the Oil better, and the Cramps bearing on a larger Surface do not wear as in the common Method. Of this I have had many Years experience.”

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