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The History of Printing in North America

I thought it would be interesting to share a bit
about the history of printing in North America
since most of my readers are both writers and

Printing began in 1676 in Boston by John Foster.
The first press in Philadelphia was set by William
Bradford whose first work issued was an almanac
in 1685. Bradford moved to New York and begun
printing there in 1693.

Among the early books published in America, a few
still retain readers’ interest because of their
attractive strangeness.

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January,
17,1706, and died in Philadelphia, on April 17, 1790.
He begun his apprenticeship as a printer in 1778,
and worked as a journey-man in Philadelphia in 1724.
He was a master printer in 1729. As an editor and a
publisher he made himself notable.

In 1732, Franklin issued the first issues of “Poor
Richards Almanac”, which was published every year,
for twenty-five years. “Poor Richard” made Franklin
famous. He was aware that in many homes this
almanac was the only book. He filled the space
between the important days in the calendar with
proverbs, showing industry and frugality as the
means of obtaining wealth and thus according to
Franklin’s belief securing virtue; he thought that the
way entertain people was to help them to be good.

The first printers had small wooden presses. Their
power was slight and they printed one page at a time.
The screw was of wood, and worked by a “bar,” much
the same as a modern napkin press. The chief thing was
to obtain an even surface on the “bed” upon which the
page of type rested; and an even surface for the “platen,”
which was lowered as the bar turned the screw, and thus
pressed the paper on the typeface. The evenness, as well
as the color, in many old books, shows that this was
accomplished with great success.

The first journal appeared in America on September 25,
1690, in Boston under the name of Public Occurrences.
The Boston News-Letter was started in 1704. The Boston
Gazette appeared on December 21, 1719, and The American
Weekly Mercury of Philadelphia a day later. The Pennsylvania
Gazette of Philadelphia was started in 1728 by Samuel Keimer,
but less than a year later was bought by Benjamin Franklin.
In 1821 it became The Saturday Evening Post; under this title
it is still issued, and is the oldest existing journal in America.

Till next time

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