A History of Printing in Maryland: Selections From The Marylandia Collection
A History of Printing in Maryland: Selections From The Marylandia Collection

Maryland has a distinguished position in the annals of American typography. After Massachusetts, it was the second colony to establish and sustain a printing press. After an aborted attempt to start a press in Jamestown, William Nuthead brought his shop to the capital of Maryland, St. Mary's, in 1685. The first known Maryland imprint is a printed form dated 31 August 1685 from St. Mary's City, attributed to Nuthead by Lawrence Wroth, which predates William Bradford's printing operation in Philadelphia. Nuthead's press moved with the capital to Annapolis. After his death in 1695, the operation was continued by his widow, Dinah Nuthead, the first women printer in the colonies.

Printing in Baltimore
Until the latter half of the 18th century, with few exceptions all printing in Maryland emanated from the provincial capital, first St. Mary's City and then Annapolis. It was not until 1765, when a Pennsylvania German printer named Nicolas Hasselbach moved to Baltimore, that this emerging town had its first press. Hasselbach had learned paper-making and printing from Christopher Saur (also spelled Sower) of Germantown, PA. Saur was known for his type founding and press building as well as his famous Bibles.

Hasselbach's first Maryland imprint is A Detection of the Proceedings of Messrs. Annan and Henderson..at Oxford [PA] Meeting-House, April 18..1764 (Baltimore-Town: Printed by N. Hasselbach, 1765). The preface to this work is dated February 12, 1765 and survives only through a unique copy found in the Garrett Library at John Hopkins University.

The only other known Hasselbach Baltimore imprint to survive is Poor Robin's: Being an Almanack and Ephemeris..for the Year of our Lord 1766 (Baltimore-Town: Printed and Sold by Nicolas Hasselbach, 1765). The unique copy of this almanac is shown here. Lawrence Wroth, the famous Maryland bibliographer, attributed several broadsides located at the Maryland Historical Society and the Maryland State Archives to Hasselbach, but none bear his imprint.

Also shown is a sample of Hasselbach's mentor, Christopher Saur: Neu vermerhrt und vollstaendiges Gesang=Buch (Germantown: Christopher Saur, 1763). Saur's influence on Baltimore typography extended beyond his apprentice Hasselbach as his grandson, Samuel Sower, operated a press in Baltimore from 1795 until his death in 1820. Samuel Sower was active in the typefoundry business (he purchased a foundry in 1806) and printed in both German and English. He also printed the first book in Maryland pertaining to the care and training of horses.

After Hasselbach's tragic death at sea in 1769, his widow sold his type to the printer who moved the center of printing activities from Annapolis to Baltimore, William Goddard. Goddard moved to Baltimore from Philadelphia in 1773 and was already well known throughout the Province for his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Chronicle and Universal Advertiser. The first issue of his Baltimore newspaper, the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, was published August 20, 1773. In 1774, he turned control of the newspaper over to his sister, Mary Katherine Goddard. During the time William Goddard worked to establish the "Constitutional Post Office."

Goddard worked in partnership with numerous printers and had many projects (and controversies) brewing simultaneously. One of his more significant projects was the publication of an almanac written and calculated by a free African-American living in Baltimore County, Benjamin Banneker. Banneker was an astronomer, surveyor, and inventor; along with Andrew Ellicott he surveyed the District of Columbia.

Benjamin Banneker's Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia Almanack and Ephemeris For the Year of Our Lord 1792.. (Baltimore: Printed and Sold, Wholesale and Retail, by William Goddard and James Angell, 1791) contains a foreword by James McHenry giving a short biography of Banneker (who was 59 when his first almanac was published) extolling Mr. Banneker's merits. Banneker's almanac became so popular that by 1794 it was being published in multiple editions.
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