1825 Merchant’s Hotel broadside printing

I am a public historian investigating the history behind a hotel advertisement broadside for the Merchant’s Hotel in Albany, New York, printed on or near May 1,1825. I am interested in learning about the types of printing and border patterns on the broadside as well as understanding the processes of printing in that time period. Any information on the printing industry in Albany around that time would be also appreciated.
Carol Robinson

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It would have been printed with a hand press, I would think. The type would have been hand set, using wood and/or metal.

Hello - could you post a picture of the broadside, or a link to where we could view it? We could probably give you more information when we see the type and/or illustrations which were used on it. If you could put a ruler next to one side, we could get an idea of the overall size and type sizes used.

I have the broadside scanned and can email it to any interested person. My email address is [email protected]. The broadside is a copy from the Albany Institute of History and Art Collection. The one font for the word Hotel has been identified as Baker and Creele in Boston in 1825. The word for Merchant’s is possibly Thorowgood Italic…Stevenson 1820. The border pattern is the hardest, possible florentine or elzevir (not sure of spelling).

Carol, I have posted the photo and follow-up at http://www.briarpress.org/3714.

Updated. The exact border, or a version which is so close that it is hard to tell the differences, is shown in an 1891 catalog of Joh. Enschede en Zonen, Haarlem, Netherlands (see scan at http://www.briarpress.org/3714). In fact, separate borders are shown as comprised of each of the individual pieces shown in the Merchant’s Hotel broadside. Since this firm was established in 1703, it is entirely possible that this is the original source, and that Enschede was still showing borders which originated long before their 1891 catalog. Since type foundries were notorious for stealing each others’ designs, however, the pieces used in this broadside may have been cast by another firm.

Hello Carol. I live in Albany and am currently setting up a letterpress shop at the Historic Albany Foundation’s Part’s Warehouse (on Lexington). I have a Golding #7 Jobber press, made in 1882 which is quite a bit newer than you are looking for but I would be not only happy to show you the press, I would love to learn more of what you have found out.

cheers, Lori
ps. I live across the street from the notorious printer Joel Munsell’s house (1839) on Spring St.!

This is pretty ancient stuff to track down! It would have been far easier if this had been printed in the late 1800s, but I was surprised to actually nail down some more identifications for this piece.

It is also extremely difficult to get a good look at the piece because a printout of the scan does not produce the best results. However, I feel fairly confident to take a decent stab at it.

The border has been covered.

“Merchant’s” is set in a Full-Face Roman Italic, such as issued by Caslon in 1821

“HOTEL” is Ornamented. I have one listing showing it coming from Johnson & Smith in 1834, but it is obviously of an earlier vintage (and perhaps a different foundry). The “Ornamented” name is fairly generic for that period and refers in general to faces that have interior decorations.

“ALBANY” is set in Antique, which could have come from any number of foundries of that era. A fairly standard design back then.

Your body copy and the “L.G. Prindle” type appear to be a Full-Face Roman and Italic as well. Again, these were fairly standard designs issued form any number of foundries of that era.

Thanks for all of the comments. The ornamental type for the word “Hotel” could be from A. C. Chandler’s foundry in New York (1822) ( example shown in Rollo Silver’s book, “Typefounding in America” between page 52 and 53. It may also have come from Baker and Creele in Boston (1825).

Gone are the days when wood or metal ornamented and antique type printing was used on rag paper and wove paper. Paper and printing techniques have evolved greatly and the latest digital techniques are lot more fool-proof and convenient to use. Yet, digital printing cannot match up the aesthetic value of prints in 19th century.

Wove paper is a surface treatment for paper, having nothing to do with the content of the paper pulp. I think you were looking for the term mould-made, which is a paper made by machine with similar materials to hand-made papers. There are still several manufacturers of hand-made papers for which one will pay a premium, but the mould-made papers are becoming more difficult to find. Both kinds of paper were made with a ‘laid’ finish, and a ‘wove’ finish.

@ Carol. If you haven’t encountered it yet, I highly recommend the book The American Printer, 1787-1825, by Rollo G. Silver. Another good, but tinder dry account of printing at the time is The Country Printer, New York State, 1785-1830, by Milton W. Hamilton. It has an extensive listing of printers, editors and publishers, and lists at least six newspaper printers located in Albany.

In 1825 most printing was still being done on wooden hand-presses, usually called common-presses. Cast-iron printing presses were used in some offices from about 1813, but largely in major population centers. Iron presses were very heavy and difficult to move in those early days, and they tended to break rather easily. Almost all print shops at the time were newspaper printers who took job and book work to fill out the time not spent setting and publishing the newspaper. If you have access to any Albany newspaper archives from the period (the Hamilton book might help with that), you might be able to compare typefaces that are used on the broadside and identify the shop from which it came.

I have two large ornamented letters that were made from wood-engraved originals that date to about the period in question. Printing directly from the wood could easily have damaged the wooden letters, so copies were made using the stereotype method, and sold by the early foundries. I strongly suspect that the large letters on the broadside were made this way.


image: StereotypedDecoratedLetterN.JPG