Printing History and technique from the Veatchs Arts of the Book
By Michael Stillman
The Veatchs Arts of the Book has issued their Catalogue 59 -- Printing History and Technique. There are 144 items pertaining to printing, including many antique specimen books and similar books and catalogues related to the press. This catalogue will be a trip down memory lane for those interested in the press when it was the dominant if not only means of mass communication. One can only wonder whether electronic publishing will make such items a thing of the past. Will it be like collecting personal letters? You can collect those from the past, but who writes them anymore? How do you collect email? And how will you collect specimen books when specimens are all online? Perhaps this is the time to begin accumulating, before the supply is all squirreled away in collections. Here is the place to start, and here are some specimens of what is inside.
Item 20 offers a sammelband of ten exotic alphabets. These books were designed to promote various types, each publishing some religious works such as the Lord's Prayer. All were published in Rome between 1771 and 1797, except an undated item from the early 1800s. This set contains the armorial bookplate of Sir William Molesworth, a Member of Parliament and publisher of the first half of the 19th century. Priced at $3,500.
Item 94 is an important work on the American press, Isaiah Thomas' The History of Printing in America. This would only cover early American printing as it was published in 1810. Thomas is the notable Worcester, Massachusetts, printer who established the American Antiquarian Society, the nation's largest preserver of American printed material pre-1876. This two-volume first edition comes with two extra portraits of Thomas. $1,600.
Item 22 is another printing history, though it covers a wider territory in terms of both time and space. It is The Invention of Printing by one of the best printers of his era, Theodore De Vinne. This is an early work for De Vinne, published in 1876 by Francis Hart, the firm where he worked before running his own press. This is a special book as it was De Vinne's own copy with his bookplate. $900.
Item 32 is La Science Pratique de l'Imprimerie, by Martin-Dominique Fertel. Published in 1723, the Veatchs describe this book as "the first French printer's manual." $5,000.
As long as we are speaking French, item 109 is the specimen album of Charles Derriey, published in Paris in 1862. Bigmore and Wyman, in their bibliography of printing, describe this as "one of the most beautiful works ever issued." It includes a price list from the Derriey Foundry. $7,000.
Item 115 is for those interested in American specimen books: Specimens of Printing Types... from Johnson and Company of Philadelphia, printed in 1857. The Veatchs describe this as "A wonderful, substantial, mid-century American specimen." $4,500.