PRINTING TRADE, American. Al though the printing trade had its inceptiun in America considerably prior to the Revolution ary War, it was not until some time after the conclusion of that struggle for liberty that it began to assume the proportions of a national industry. In the year 1775, for example, there were less than 100 printing establishments upon American soil, and these were almost exclu sively confined to the coast towns. Even as late as the year 1810 there were but 35 printing shops scattered about throughout the interior of the country, while, in 1775, with the exception of the two or three offices that were located in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, the art of printing had no inland representation. A few years later a printing establishment was opened at Lexington, Ky.; another soon followed at Pittsburgh, Pa., and the third office was finally located at Cincinnati, Ohio. In almost every instance these printing offices were established for the primary object of printing newspapers, although each of them not only possessed the necessary facilities for the production of job work, but were also able to print and bind books on the rare occasions upon which such contracts presented themselves.
From the earliest days in the history of the printing trade in America, New York, Philadel phia and Boston have been the three great centres of this industry. Other seaport towns had their local shops, but the bulk of their business was small. In fact, during the first 50 years in the life of the new nation it was Philadelphia that took the lead in every branch of the printing industry, and by the beginning of the 19th century the Quaker City presses, of which there were no less than 110 constantly in operation, were producing more English publica tions than any city in the world, with the single exception of London. It was here that Matthew Carey, the first great American publisher, established his plant, and with all its daily and weekly newspapers, and its book-printing and binding establishments, Philadelphia was indeed the most important centre of the American printing trade.
Gradually, however, as the demands for printed works increased other cities came into line, Albany, Hartford and Worcester being among those that developed a comparatively large trade. Their chief industry was in the printing of pamphlets. The newspapers of that day contained so little matter that they were easily read, and, as they were passed from man to man, their numerical circulation was ex tremely small. As the result, therefore, little effort was made to enlarge them, and persons who, like the politicians, wished to reach the general public were compelled to address them selves to the people through the medium of pamphlets. So far as actual literature was con cerned the country was practically devoid of authors, and the books which were printed upon American presses were almost exclusively those which had been pirated from English publish ers. Later some religious and technical books
appeared, but it was many years before general literature displayed any marked development.
In the beginning everything that was used in the art of printing was imported from Eng land. The American printers had English presses. It was from England that they ob tained their type. Even the better qualities of printer's ink were imported, for the ink that was produced in the United States was of such an inferior grade that it could be used only in the roughest kinds of jobs. From time to time various American printers made some slight improvements upon the old presses, but no great evidence of progress was shown until the estab lishment of a permanent type foundry.
Although it was the latter part of the 18th century before there was any permanent estab ment for the making of type in the United States, several attempts had previously been made to introduce such an innovation in the printing trade. As early as 1775 Benjamin Franklin had sent the complete equipment for a type foundry from Paris, but the attempt to establish this branch of the industry was not a financial success, and it was accordingly soon discontinued. Some 10 years later a Scotch firm opened a foundry in Philadelphia, but it did not thrive, and the few other scattered efforts that were made to provide American workmen with American-made type met with the same fate. In 1796, however, two Scotch men opened a type foundry in Philadelphia under the firm name of Binny and Ronaldson, and, as the time now seemed ripe for such an establishment, they were sufficiently successful to be able to continue operations. In 1805 an other foundry was opened by the firm of Wing and White, in Hartford, but they found them selves unable to compete with the Philadelphia foundry until, in 1810, the establishment was re moved to New York. Two years later the firm of David and George Bruce established a stereotyping plant in New York, and, when the already established foundries refused to supply them with type for their operations, they began to cast it for themselves, and soon became one of the most successful tyke-making houses in America. Their success, in fact, as much as the increasing demand for type, inspired others to follow their example. In 1816 a foundry was established in Boston; in 1817 another was opened in Baltimore, and, by 1830, there were no less than 12 foundries in full operation in various parts of the country. At the present time there are about 30 of these foundries in the United States, many of which are under the control of the American Type-Founders Company.