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A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland: 1686-1776 by Lawrence C. Wroth
Volume 435, Preface 6   View pdf image (33K)
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records of Maryland had been collected and published, Mr. Thomas as-
serted that printing in Lord Baltimore's province began with the press
which William Parks set up in Annapolis in the year 1726,and succeed-
ing writers have repeated his error and continue still to repeat it in spite
of the accessibility to them of records unknown to the pioneer historian.
Occasionally, it is true, a writer has discovered traces of an earlier group
of Maryland printers than that which Mr. Thomas had knowledge of, but
as a general thing these discoveries have not been made the matter of per-
manent record, so that for all practical purposes the current knowledge of
Maryland printing origins remains today in the state in which Thomas
left if, and this is true in spite of the efforts at correction made by the edi-
tors of his second edition in the year 1874. On the other hand, if in the
accepted chronology of American printing, the date of the Maryland ori-
gins is set a generation later than is correct, the traditional date of its
beginning, a tradition fabricated less than half a century ago by J. Thomas
Scharf2 has been placed at least two generations earlier than is warranted
by the evidence.

It is proposed by the writer of the present work, dismissing as inde-
fensible Scharf s unsupported assertions, to demonstrate that printing
began in Maryland probably forty years before Parks set up his press in
Annapolis, and that three printers operated in the Province and two
others were licensed to operate there before the year which is usually ac-
cepted as marking the inauguration of the typographic art on the shores
of the Chesapeake. The history of the later presses also will be set forth
with some minuteness, and in an appendix to the narrative will be placed
a list of all Maryland imprints between the years 1689 and 1776, in so
far as these could be collected either at first hand, from printed bibliog-
raphies, or by title from records presumptive of their publication.

If it seem at times in this narrative that undue attention has been given

1 In the face of this generalization, one must call attention to the fact that various Maryland writers, partic-
ularly William Hand Browne and Bernard C. Steiner, editors of the Archives of Maryland, have consistently
pointed to evidence of the existence of earlier printers than were known to Thomas. Hugh A. Morrison cited evi-
dence of the operations of the first Maryland printer in a note, pp. 62 and 63, in his Catalogue of the Books, Manu-
scripts and Maps Relating Principally to America, Collected by the late Levi Z. Leiter. Washington, 1907; and an
anonymous writer in the Baltimore Sun, June a, 1907, adduced similar evidence from the Provincial records.

2 Scharf, J. T., History of Maryland. 3 v. Baltimore, 1879,1:190; for a discussion of Scharf's story, see appen-
dix of this narrative.



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A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland: 1686-1776 by Lawrence C. Wroth
Volume 435, Preface 6   View pdf image (33K)
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