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Grolier Club Exhibitions

History of Printing

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Thomas, Isaiah.

The history of printing in America. — Worcester: From the press of Isaiah Thomas, Jun. Isaac Sturtevant, printer, 1810.

Isaiah Thomas (1749–183l) was a leading printer and publisher of his time—Benjamin Franklin called him the “Baskerville of America.” His treatise on the history of printing in America, which was published in 1810, drew heavily on his personal command of the practical aspects of printing, as well as his acquaintance with American printers of the eighteenth century and before. It remains the most significant early work on the subject. 

Gift of David Wolfe Bruce, 1894.

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Johannes Gutenberg, ca. 1840.


This bronze figure is a study or model for the public monument to Gutenberg unveiled in Strasbourg, France in 1840 by French sculptor Pierre Jean David d’Angers (1788–1856). The statuette was presented to the sculptor’s friend, the poet and statesman Alphonse de Lamartine.  It is one of several pieces of sculpture in the Grolier Club portraying printers, book collectors, and literary figures.

Gift of George A. Lucas, 1902.


The 42-line Bible

Biblia Latina. [Mainz: Johannes Gutenberg, between 1453 and 1455, not after August 1456].

This leaf from the 42-line Gutenberg Bible was donated by Grolier member J. C. McCoy in 1922. 


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Bowyer, William.

Ledgers and account books, [manuscript], 1710-1781. 7 volumes.

This set of seven ledgers chronicles the business activities of the Bowyer-Nichols firm of London printers from 1710 to 1781.  The collection provides information about more than 5,000 individual books or jobs printed by the Bowyers between 1710 and 1778 (one volume is opened to show the entry for the second edition of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, 1719). Handed down from father to son for generations in the Nichols family, the ledgers were purchased by the Grolier Club at the John Gough Nichols sale at Sotheby’s (London), November 18, 1929. 

Purchased in 1929.

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Goudy, Frederic W.

The Melbert B. Cary, Jr. collection of Goudyana, 1903-1938.

Frederic William Goudy (1865–1947) was one of the most colorful and influential printers and type designers of the twentieth century, responsible for nearly 125 distinct or related type faces. The Cary collection focuses on the output of the Goudys’ Village Press but also contains many other items of typographic and personal interest, including type, book and monogram designs, and keepsakes honoring Goudy. Shown here is  a drawer containing matrices, florets, punches, and counterpunches from the Village Press, including the first experimental casting of Village Type.

Gift of the estate of Melbert B. Cary, Jr.

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Printers’ Medals, 1558–ca. 1903.

The Grolier Club has a large and interesting collection of medals relating specifically to printing, bookselling, collecting, and the book arts. Displayed is a group of medals issued in 1840 to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of the invention of printing, mounted inside the front cover of the Club’s copy of F. Dingelstedt’s Jean Gutenberg, premier maître imprimeur (Genève: Fick, 1858), specially bound by Meunier. These face a group of medals honoring (center) Robert Estienne (1903?); and (clockwise from top center) Giambattista Bodoni (1802); Benjamin Franklin (1786); Firmin Didot (1857); Jean Grolier, in the form of a silver jeton cast for Grolier to mark the “Reunion du Royaume de France” (1558); Alois Senefelder (1896?); and Jacques Auguste de Thou (1817).