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Book of the Week — American Encyclopedia of Printing

“[Benjamin Franklin] holds deserved preeminence in the long line of distinguished American printers. The leading features of his useful and brilliant career as a statesman and philosopher are so well known that it is unnecessary to dwell upon them here. But it is worthy of remark that amid all his varied employments he never lost his deep interest in the art of printing and all that appertained to it. His lively picture of his labors as an apprentice, journeyman, and master-printer has awakened hope and inspired ambition in the breasts of thousands of young men…His talent as an author never led him to be neglectful of mechanical excellence as a printer…He aided in the establishment of paper-mills; cut type or engravings with his own hand when they could not be readily obtained;…spent his happiest hours at the French Court in a private printing-office he had established near Paris;…bought in France many of the materials necessary for a type-foundry, in the hope that one of his grandsons would establish that business in the United States; displayed a lively interest in the development of the comparatively new art of stereotyping, if he did not contribute directly to its revival by information furnished to Didot; and finally, in his will, described himself as Benjamin Franklin, printer, in the apparent belief that that was the most correct and comprehensive, if not the most honorable title he had won by a career that has deservedly elicited the warm and enduring admiration of civilized mankind.”

American Encyclopedia of Printing
J. Luther Ringwalt, editor
Philadelphia: Menamin & Ringwalt; J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1871
First edition

This encyclopedia of printing contains more than sixteen hundred entries regarding the history, machinery, tools, processes, and products of printing. The encyclopedia was, for many years, the go-to manual for printers who followed its processes for repairing presses. John Luther Rignwalt (1828-1891) published the Monroe Democrat in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania and the Railroad World in Philadelphia. He was the author of Development of Transportation Systems in the United States (1888). Ringwalt’s wife, Jesse, wrote many articles for the Printer’s Circular, which he reprinted in his Encyclopedia.

Illustrated with twenty full-page plates, including a chromolithograph frontispiece of the printing press surrounded by allegorical figures, a plate of raised lettering intended as a method of reading for the blind, and a double-spread color facsimile of a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible. The binding includes an elaborate gilt pictorial featuring Benjamin Franklin surrounded by nine prominent pioneer type founders. Rare Books copy from the library of Richard-Gabriel Rummonds.

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