Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Thomas Paine in Bordertown and printing presses

I was sure no one wanted to look at snow, so I changed my photograph today and put in a photo I took at (I think) Camden County Historical Society Museum in Camden, New Jersey.  I visited there recently and found this photo in my camera roll, so I thought I would post it and drop in a little printing press history.

During the Colonial period, printing was one of the few trades open to women.  During the Revolution, about 30 women printers were in operation.  In Baltimore, Mary Goddard devoted the front page of The Maryland Journal to the Declaration of Independence.  Like most printers, including Benjamin Franklin, Mary K. Goddard had to keep a second business in order to earn enough money as the printing business was not particularly profitable.  Sometimes her paper subscribers would pay her in goods rather than money, and she sold these goods in her store.  Franklin, himself, ran a stationers next door to his print shop, although to be fair, we should say that most of the time, his partner Deborah ran the store as Franklin spent decades in Europe on behalf of the new American government .  Mary also worked as a postmaster as did Franklin.

My New Jersey Great Grandfather, William C. Garwood also worked as a postmaster in Turnersville.  

A second connection is that I studied printmaking when I was in my second college, Rutgers the State University, which I attended from 1979 through 1981 or 82.  I had already taken a degree in English with certification to teach at what was then Glamssboro State Teachers' College, and at Rutgers, I was taking a major in Art and certification to teach.  Many of my education credits could be transferred, so I finished in less than 4 years.  

The kind of printmaking I studied used a press, but we drew with grease pencils on fine grained slabs of limestone from Germany, then used a variety of etching chemicals to make the stone ink resistant while the grease pencil lines could pick up ink.  It was a laborious process, but I liked it and I continued it after I graduated and moved to Philadelphia, by studying at Fletcher Art Memorial on Catherine Street.  

Eventually, I changed over to woodblock printing because I could do it without a press, and finally, I gave it up and made paintings.  However, My personal history has always made me interested in printing presses.  Add to my Art history, my work history - I worked at W. B. Saunders Publisher on Washington Square, and McMillan, a subsidiary, in Riverside, New Jersey, and the interest in printing expands.  Also, since I worked as a secretary, I have also always been interested in typewriters, and I have both a 1919 Underwood, and a 1980 Smith Corona electric typewriter.  

Once, I visited the Parker Press up near Perth Amboy.  This was a Revolutionary era printer shop and there is a nice little park beside the tiny shop.  I have a book on Parker, the printer, but I confess I haven't read it yet.  

New Jersey History - Thomas Paine's famous and highly influential pamphlet, Common Sense was printed by Robert Bell.  Half a million copies of the pamphlet were sold.  "...In proportion to the population......It had the largest sale of any book in American History."  It is still in print today.  You can find a plaque commemorating Thomas Paine's home in Bordentown, New Jersey and there is a statue of him at Prince and Courtland Sts.  

One day we will have a great book of historic places in New Jersey, in the meantime, the rest of us will have to do our little parts in keeping the history alive by visiting and writing about it on blogs and newsletters!

Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

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