Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2011 Issue

Arts of the Book from the Veatchs

Veatchs69

The latest from the Veatchs Arts of the Book.

The Veatchs Arts of the Book has published their latest selection:  Catalogue 69. It features fine printing and binding, type specimens, and many other items relating to printing, fine and private presses in particular. There are also numerous works relating to papermaking, several with samples. The Veatchs offers works for those who see printed material as more than just vehicles to transmit information, but as works of art as well. Indeed, they are "arts of the book." Here are few from this latest presentation.

 

Item 72 is a work the Veatchs describe as "the first great technical work on papermaking." The title of this 1761 pioneering French work is Art de Faire le Papier. It is a thorough study of papermaking techniques, little changed at the time since before the invention of printing, by Jerome de Lalande. It describes the different processes for making paper and their costs. However, the author was not a papermaker, and his reputation has little to do with paper or printing. He was a scientist, an astronomer in particular. He corrected some of Edmond Halley's works, and was a leader in the study of the two transits of Venus that occurred during the late 18th century, which helped to determine the size of the solar system (viewing the 1769 transit was the primary purpose of James Cook's first voyage). He apparently was also the first to view Neptune, but attributed its planetary movement to an observation error rather than realizing it was a planet. Priced at $3,600.

 

Item 115 is a work important for reasons that go beyond even the store of information contained within its pages:  The History of Printing in America. With a Biography of Printers and an Account of Newspapers. This was the first history of American printing. Published in 1810, it was written by the noted Revolutionary Era printer Isaiah Thomas of Worcester, Massachusetts. It is on the list of the Grolier Club One Hundred Influential American Books, noted for containing much material that "can be found nowhere else." Thomas was also a great collector of American works, though he really was more preserver than collector. Preparing this history spurred him to obtain material for his collection, which he bequeathed to an organization he was instrumental in founding, the American Antiquarian Society. That society to this day holds the greatest collection of American printed works up to the post-Civil War period. $1,400.

 

Item 57 came off of one of the presses of the greatest 19th century American producer of printing presses. It is an in-house work, so to speak, by R. Hoe and Sons. The Hoe family is noted for the development of high-speed presses during the 19th century, but the firm started with a different product line, which continued even as the press business became huge. Item 57 is a broadside for R. Hoe & Co. Cast Steel Saws. It was printed by a Hoe press in the 1860s, at which point Hoe was better known for the rapid presses that allowed for the printing of newspapers in large volume. The third generation of the Hoe family, Robert Hoe III, became one of America's greatest book collectors, and the auction after his death in 1909 was, at the time, the largest book auction in terms of value ever in American history. Interestingly, the printing press business came to an end after the firm's bankruptcy in the 1970s, but the saw business continues as Pacific/Hoe Saw and Knife, which makes, among its products, saws used in paper manufacture. $800.

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