The Printer’s Manual: An Abridgement of Stower’s Grammar


First American Printer's Manual

This unprepossessing little volume is actually one of the most important books in American printing history. Though it is the first printer’s manual ever published in the United States, it remained forgotten until an RIT School of Printing professor, Alexander S. Lawson, discovered a copy in 1976. Following a common practice in American technical publishing, the text of this manual is actually a condensed version of an 1808 manual published in London by Caleb Stower. Even so, it marks the beginning of technical publishing in this country in the field of printing. Only a year later, in 1818, Cornelius Van Winkle published his Printer’s Guide, an adaptation rather than an abridgment of Stower, which, until this volume was identified, was considered the earliest manual of printing in the Americas. Why did it take so long to be discovered?

printing history, printer's manual