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Cornelius Van Winkle Issues the First American Printer's Manual


In 1818 printer and publisher Cornelius S. Van Winkle of New York published The Printer's Guide; or, an Introduction to the Art of Printing: Including an Essay on Punctuation and Remarks on Orthography. This work, published in small 8vo format, was the first printer's manual written by an American printer and published in the United States.  Van Winkle characterized himself on the title page as "Printer to the University of New-York."

This work was the first printing manual that described American presses, specimens of American typefounders, price lists for printing, and information on supplies.  "While some parts of the manual, as Wroth has demonstrated, derive from Stower, it was prepared by an American printer for the use of American printers. In one sense, American printing may be said to have come of age with the publication of Van Winkle" (Silver, The American Printer, 1797-1825 [1967] 96).

In 1970 The Lakeside Press, R.R. Donnelley & Sons issued an excellent facsimile edition of this manual, even reproducing the foxing and color of the original paper.  From these we learn that the first edition was issued with two separate catalogues of type specimens bound at the end:  A Specimen of Printing Types from the Foundry of E. White, and A Specimen of Printing Types Cast at D. & G. Bruce's Foundry.

Thanks to John Hightower for pointing out in January 2012 that a digital version of the first edition of van Winkle's book is available at Google books has a digital version of the 1836 printing by White & Hagar of New York, characterized as "with additions and alterations."

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