Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 11. Mechanical Improvements

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXIX. Book Publishers and Publishing

§ 11. Mechanical Improvements

Besides the beginnings in the reflection of American consciousness of nationalism and the noteworthy increase in school books of our own authorship and manufacture, the period immediately after 1812 was made notable by the many mechanical improvements introduced. In 1813 stereotyping was first employed. Iron presses began to replace the old wooden ones about 1817; in 1819 our first lithograph appeared, though about 1802 Mathew Carey had corresponded with Didot concerning his method of lithographing; while about 1825 bindings were cheapened by the use of muslin. Type casting had been attempted as early as 1768 and made a success of but a few years later. Therefore, though as late as 1834 Audubon was publishing in Edinburgh, primarily for mechanical reasons apparently, and though even in 1835 Harper & Brothers printed all their books on hand presses, yet by the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century, American publication may be said to have passed through the period of mechanical adolescence.