Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Type Tuesday - James Conner's Sons Typographic Messenger

More from the Kemble collection's impressive holdings of periodicals on printing! Our holdings include the first issue of The Typographic Messenger, along with a nearly complete run of the circulation.

The Typographic Messenger was the publication of the James Conner’s Sons type foundry of New York. James Conner began his stereotyping and type foundry in 1827. It was first foundry in the United States to introduce light faces. Upon his death in 1861 his sons, William Crawford and James Madison, managed the foundry under the name of James Conner’s Sons. 

The first issue (Vol. 1, Issue 1 of November 1865) began with an introduction proclaiming James Conner's Sons ambivalent feelings regarding the publication of the issue: It is with mixed feelings of pride and diffidence that we commit the first issue of THE TYPOGRAPHIC MESSENGER to the tender mercies of so critical an audience as the followers of the “art preservative:” pride, in the fact that our earnest efforts to produce a unique typographic art-specimen are measurably successful; diffidence, in the consciousness of many imperfections in style, matter and execution.

Despite such trepidation the brother's publication continued on as the bi-monthly mouthpiece of the type foundry. Its mast head read: Vox dicta perit; Litera scripta manet (or Written letter remains the main expression) and issues reported on news from the world of printing and carried advertisements for James Conner's type, along with type made available from other foundries; printing inks, presses and papers; and descriptions and illustrations of typesetting and printing machinery.

A later issue demonstrated a more confident attitude toward their publication. In May of 1869 (Vol. IV, No. 2), James Conner’s Sons themselves became the critical audience in their piece "A Review of Poor Printing": We have before us a newspaper, which, not to particularize too closely, is published in Illinois, that, in a five-line item on intemperance, gives room to a suspicion that the compositor and proof-reader might have been slightly “elevated” at the time of its compilation. “Drunkness” is substituted for the entire word, and “influen-ce” is divided as we here show, by carrying over the last two letters! In the item immediately above this very intemperate paragraph, in speaking of the “American Agriculturist,” the publishers’ names and address are given “ORANGE JUDD & Co., New Bork.” That is enough for one paper.

Along with the advertisements for printing equipment, this volume also offers wood type specimens, from William H. Page & Co. of Greeneville, Connecticut. 

Jaime Henderson
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