hese are a few highlights from The Inland Printer dating back to 1898. The Inland Printer was a leather-bound trade catalog distributed around Chicago and New York to various print and publishing houses. It featured the latest and greatest printing technologies and services available in 1898; Linotype printing machines, steel engraved ornaments, and a variety of printing, folding and cutting machines, not to mention my favorite part, the advertising for the various printing and engraving companies featured in the book, like the samples above for instance.
Naturally, these scans don’t do justice to the originals so I must first give a nod to the high-quality inks and paper used in this publication. After 112 years, the prints and pages throughout the book are holding up quite well and are still very bright (the Ault & Wiborg prints look like they came off the press yesterday).
I used to work with rare books and I’ve always loved them. I like thinking about the old school punch cutters, printers and artists who labored to create them, so this catalog is actually a really nice insight into their world. I can just imagine them going over these pages, seeing all the new possibilities. Maybe getting inspired by the amazing metallic blue Silk-Tone ink sold by the horribly-named Taknecke Bros & Jr. Schneemmann company, or drooling over a bunch of new machines and their modern time saving methods.
As for us, at least we have this glimpse into the past, but more than that, our past as designers. If we were doing what we do right now, but in 1898, typographers would be punch cutters, vector masters would be engravers (wood, steel, zinc), and Photoshop wizards would be doing lithographs and halftones. So this catalog must have been like the Internet for them. Or a chunk of it. Viewed offline.
I’m pretty much way down with Electric City Engraving Co, so I’d say if I were transported through time 112 years into the past, I’d have to get into the halftone scene. But I’m also interested in engraving on wood so I’ll have to incorporate that somehow. I don’t know. The possibilities were as endless then as they are today.