In the colonies, the chore boy or youngest apprentice in the print shop was called a “printer’s devil”, a reference to the air of mystery and magic which surrounded the early days of letterpress printing. Educated in setting type and working the handpress, these workers sometimes became master printers, publishers, or writers. “The bookbinder took the printed pages and made them ready for sale. The binder’s work included folding, pressing, sewing, and trimming the pages to construct the finished pamphlet or small book. Small inexpensive books were called “stitch books” . . . The most common bound book sold by a printer was a blank book used by planters for their crop records, tradesmen for their business records, churches, and courthouses.” (Colonial Williamsburg). What printer’s devils learned and more will be explored at this workshop. Museum Educator Laurie Walker will teach children how to make simple books they can use for journals, notes, art, and gifts on Jan. 19 from 11 am – 12:30 pm. Book-making techniques will include folding and learning an easy stitch with thick cotton thread. Each child will make a blank “stitch book” with a decorative cover, stitched and glued, and a stamp for printing. Snack of fruit salad.
Suggested for ages 6 – 12. Wilton Historical Society members $10 per child, maximum $25 per family; Non-members $15 per child, maximum $35 per family. Please register: email@example.com or call 203-762-7257
Did You Know?
Mark Twain was a Printer’s Devil! “Samuel Clemens was eleven years old when his lawyer father died. In order to help the family earn money, the young Clemens began working as a store clerk and a delivery boy. He also began working as an apprentice (working to learn a trade), then a compositor (a person who sets type), with local printers, contributing occasional small pieces to local newspapers. At seventeen his comic sketch “The Dandy Frightening the Squatter” was published by a sportsmen’s magazine in Boston, Massachusetts.
In 1853 Clemens began wandering as a journeyman printer to St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; settling briefly with his brother, Orion, in Iowa before setting out at twenty-two years old to make his fortune, he hoped, beside the lush banks of the Amazon River in South America. Instead, traveling down the Mississippi River, he became a steamboat river pilot until the outbreak of the Civil War (1861–65). “ – Notable Biographie