The Translantic Trade
Bookbinding in the Colonies

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Baltimore and Beyond

Several mid-eighteenth century volumes of Maryland court judgment records in the Spawn Collection carry tickets from artisans working outside of Maryland. Some volumes carry tickets of Wilmington, Delaware binders Craig and Lea, and Willman Spawn identified examples of the work of Philadelphia binders William Wodehouse and William Muir by the decorations on certain book covers. Marylanders often purchased books from established presses in these cities because it was more economical than buying locally-made books, which were more expensive to produce. The book trade in eighteenth-century America had a high interdependence on other colonies and countries.

After the Revolution, Annapolis continued to supply the state government with some of its official printing and binding needs, but Baltimore became the center of printing in the mid-Atlantic by the mid-1800s. The numerous paper mills near Baltimore and the deep harbor made it a powerhouse of the printing and bookbinding industry, a position that it held into the twentieth century.

Although Baltimore binders dominated the market, bookbinding was an established trade throughout Maryland, having gone east to Salisbury and Cambridge and west to Frederick and Hagerstown. Most large towns possessed some combination of printer, stationer, and bookbinder. Technological changes in the nineteenth century, such as the semi-automation of the printing and papermaking processes, led to a drop in the price of printed materials. Combined with a growing literacy rate, journals, account books, and novels became a fixture in many Maryland homes.
Binder's Ticket, Craig and Lea of Wilmington, Delaware
Binding: Willman Spawn Collection, MSA SC 5797-1-133
Original contents: Cecil County Court (Land Records), 1758-1762, Vol. 9, inside front cover, MSA C 626-12
Binder's Ticket, James Wilson of Wilmington, Delaware
Binding: Willman Spawn Collection, MSA SC 5797-1-141
Original contents: Kent County Register of Wills (Administration Bonds), 1803-1812, Vol. 9, inside front cover, MSA C 1018-10
Binder's Ticket, Neal and Wills of Baltimore
Binding: Willman Spawn Collection, MSA SC 5797-1-22
Original contents: Cecil County Court (Marriage Licenses), 1770-1840, MSA C 632-1
Clerk's Inscription
Dorchester County Court (Judgment Record), 1788-1789, inside back cover, MSA C 704-15

The inscription of court clerk H. Dickinson at the beginning of this volume notes that the book was "Bought in Baltimore Cost 35 shillings of David Patton." Clerks often kept careful records of their official expenditures because they typically bought their own supplies and were reimbursed later.
Binder's ticket, Townsend and Patton
Baltimore City Archives (Baltimore Town Commissioners Ledger), 1786-1797, page 1, MSA BRG1-5

Townsend and Patton of Baltimore partnered together from 1780 to 1800. They are mentioned in the July 25, 1787 city records of Baltimore as having "Presented an Account for two blank books furnished for the use of this Board." They received payment for a bill of 17 shillings and sixpence.
Binder's ticket, Thomas, Andrews & Butler
Chancery Court (Chancery Papers, Exhibits)
Wallace, Johnson & Muir, Ledger F
January 1, 1796-September 24, 1807
MSA S 528-26

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