Fondly, Pennsylvania

Stationery Binders in Philadelphia

Wednesday, 9/4/13

The conservation team continues to document and treat the ledgers in the Bank of North America collection. The nature of our work requires careful examination of the books' physical structure, which will affect the individual treatment to be carried out. This presented us with a great opportunity to compare many binding styles and glean insights into Philadelphia's stationery trade. We've photographed the over 670 ledgers in the collection and have found that the bank made use of the services of at least a dozen different stationers over the years. Stationers provided writing supplies and usually bound and sold blank books. Some stationers were printers, publishers and booksellers as well.

The small printed tickets affixed by binders to the books they made are usually found on the front pastedown. The ticket above was found inside a ledger made in 1782 and it describes the business thus: "Where all Sorts of Account Books are Made and Ruled to any Pattern. He likewise sells all Sorts of stationery wares at the Lowest Rates". Some of these wares are named and illustrated in the decorative border: Slates, Wafers, Pencils, Wax, Ink Powder and Paper. The shop's address was later amended by hand.

J. P. Parke's book and stationery store was located at 75 Chestnut St. and later at 74 S. 2nd St. in Philadelphia. The ledger above was bound in 1814. Parke specialized in medical books and some of his diaries are held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. His ticket depicts the statue of Benjamin Franklin, a fellow Philadelphia stationer, printer and bookseller. Francesco Lazzarini depicted Franklin in classical robes, standing by a tower of books. The statue was placed in the niche above the Library Company's door in 1792, just down the street from both Parke's shop and the Bank of North America.

The ledger seen above was bound in 1813 according to "Sullivan's Patent". Inside the book, John T. Sullivan's ticket depicts its binding.

William H. Maurice's ticket, seen above, has a bee skep as a device and the motto: "Industry must thrive". Maurice was listed in Philadelphia business directories between 1845 and 1863 under many other occupations, such as dry goods clerk, alongside his stationery trade.

Most of the stationers represented in the tickets in this collection worked in close proximity to each other as well as the bank. In order to purchase a new blank book, a clerk of the bank simply had to walk down to Chestnut Street. Stationers produced books to their clients' specifications and several volumes in this collection bear penciled notes on the flyleaves that instruct the finisher in the required ruling and numbering pattern. Some of these binders continued to be active as booksellers and publishers well into the 20th century. Altemus & Co., founded by Joseph T. Altemus in the 1830's, was one such business. The ticket above comes from a ledger bound in 1907. Many more examples of binders' tickets found in the Bank of North America collection, together with the bindings they were found in, can be seen on the project's flickr page. The Historical Society holds several trade periodicals such as the Printers Circular and Stationers' and Publishers' Gazette.

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