The American Colonies in the 18th Century had almost as many bookbinders as we have bankers today (and some say the world is getting better!). EVEN BENJAMIN FRANKLlN,...As a young man in Philadelphia, he started a printing business and "by means of his industry and economy he soon paid his debts, and began to accumulate property. He opened a shop well filled with stationery, and did something at bookbinding and bookselllng." THERE WAS THE NORTH CAROLlNA GAZETTE..This first newspaper in North Carolina began in 1755 and its imprint said "New bern: Printed by James Davis, at the Printing-Office in Front-Street, where all persons may be supplied with this paper at Sixteen Shillings per Annum: And where Advertisements of a moderate length are Inserted for Three Shillings the first Week, and Two Shillings for every week after. And where also Book-Binding is done reasonably." AND IN 1774 VALENTINE NUTTER was prominent as a bookbinder and bookseller in New York City "opposite the Coffee-House Bridge." A LACKADAISICAL BOOKBINDER apparently described Mr. Thomas Furber of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. "Furber had been taught plain binding, and undertook to connect it with printing. Although he was not very skillful, either as a printer or as a binder, he began the world under favorable circumstances, and, had he been attentive to his affairs, he might have been successful. He was good natured and friendly, but naturally indolent, and, like too many others, gave himself up to the enjoyment of a companion, when he should have been attending to his business." ANDREW BRADFORD TRIED HARDER... Son of Philadelphia's first printer, Andrew was Franklin's toughest competitor. "His printing house was in Second Street, at the sign of the Bible. He sold pamphlets and school books, and till 1730 frequently advertised other articles for sale, such as whalebone, live geese feathers, pickled sturgeon, chocolate, Spanish snuff, &c., and executed common binding." CHRISTOPHER SOWER WAS BINDING BIBLES THE LAST DAY OF HIS LIFE....He began as a bookbinder, prospered, lost his estates during the Revolution (he refused to swear an oath because of his religion), and returned to binding. "He began the process of binding these books by the laborious employment of beating them, as is usual, and imprudently completed as much of this work in half a day as is usually done in a whole day...He went out to a spring where he drank so freely of water as to produce a fit of apoplexy, which soon after terminated his mortal existence." MAJOR GENERAL HENRY KNOX, friend and associate of Washington began as an apprentice bookbinder. "OLD BOOKS NEATLY BOUND..Thus promised the American Weekly Mercury, Philadelphia's first newspaper. BEN FRANKLIN'S PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE PROMISED THAT ...."Book-Binding is done reasonably in the best manner."
OUR THANKS FOR THESE PARTICULARS TO THE HISTORY OF PRINTING IN AMERICA (1810) BY COLONIAL PRINTER ISAIAH THOMAS (who also noted that BENEDICT ARNOLD was a bookseller in New Haven, Connecticut, not a Bookbinder