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Early Productions

Henry Morris

A Collection of Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery; For the Use of All Good Wives, Tender Mothers, and Careful Nurses. Philad'a: Printed for Henry Morris, 1958.

Henry Morris's printing career originally began as an outgrowth of a newfound interest in making handmade paper. He printed his first book, A Collection of Receipts in Cookery, in order to experiment with one of his early batches of paper. At the time Morris had no specific intention of establishing a private press. He has since stated that he had not previously heard the term "private press." The recipes, derived from eighteenth-century sources, were often edited or rewritten so that printing the text would present fewer technical difficulties. In later years, Morris spoke highly of the paper used for this book, but has otherwise described the actual print work in this book as "terrible."

A Collection of Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery, prospectus. [circa 1958]. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

This is one of three copies that Henry Morris printed as a planned prospectus for his first book. These prospectuses were never actually used. On the back of this one, Morris has added the following note: "I cannot explain the wording - esp. about 'manufactured entirely in Philadelphia' but there it is."

Jean Imberdis.

Papyrus, or the Craft of Paper. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1961.

Papyrus was the first book printed under the Bird & Bull Press imprint. This was also the first book that Henry Morris printed using his own printing equipment; he borrowed the equipment for his first book. The text of Papyrus was originally written in Latin in 1693 by the Jesuit priest Jean Imberdis. The Bird & Bull Press edition was the first American printing of the poem's English translation. Imberdis wrote his poem in celebration of the papermaking industry of Clermont, France. It is a valuable document of printing history, as it provides an accurate and detailed description of seventeenth-century papermaking processes from start to finish.

Jean Imberdis.

Papyrus, or the Craft of Paper. Hilversum, Holland: The Paper Publications Society, 1952.

The first printing of the English translation of Papyrus. Henry Morris used this copy to set the type for his edition.

Three Erfurt Tales, 1497-1498. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1962.

While searching for material for his third printed book, Henry Morris was referred to the book collector, Lessing J. Rosenwald. Rosenwald suggested a book from his own collection: a bound volume containing three fifteenth-century German morality tales which had never before been translated into English. (Rosenwald's collection later formed the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection at the Library of Congress). Rosenwald arranged to have the tales translated at the Library of Congress and also volunteered to help finance the printing and publication of the book. The woodcuts printed in this edition are reproductions of the illustrations printed in the original fifteenth-century version.

Henry Morris.

"Rosenwald: Recollections of a great bookman and print collector," photocopied typescript, [circa 1979]. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

Henry Morris and Lessing J. Rosenwald remained close in the years following the Erfurt project. This typescript contains Morris's recollections of their friendship, written shortly after Rosenwald's death.

Five on Paper: A Collection of Five Essays on Papermaking, Books and Relevant Matters. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1963.

Five on Paper was the first Bird & Bull Press book to feature original material on the history and art of papermaking. The book contained five essays about papermaking. One was written by Morris; the others were written by friends and colleagues who Morris personally selected. Of his purposes in printing the book, Morris wrote in his introduction: "I am hopeful that some others may be interested in becoming amateur papermakers through reading this book. This would be worthwhile, as it would be shameful to let this wonderful old craft die out completely." Morris later went on to describe Five on Paper as the most important of his early works.

The two manuscripts on display show earlier forms of the essay, "A Letter From Kent." The finished text is shown in the printed copy of Five on Paper.

J. Barcham Green.

"A Letter From Kent," corrected typescript, [n.d.]. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

This typescript of Green's essay contains Henry Morris's handwritten notes.

Five on Paper, printers' dummy, [1963]. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

A printers' dummy is a rough mockup of a book, created as an aid to the design and printing of a book.

William White.

A Babylonian Anthology. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1966.

A Babylonian Anthology was conceived after Henry Morris's mailman, William White, expressed interest in the Bird & Bull items and correspondence that were arriving at Morris's house in ever-increasing numbers. White was studying ancient Semitic languages (he later worked as a lecturer at Temple University), and expressed interest in publishing a translation of ancient cuneiform texts that would provide the layman with an interesting and approachable sample of Babylonian literature. White's translations were published by Morris in this volume, accompanied by modern illustrations drawn in the style of ancient Babylonian art. The book also features Babylonian-inspired watermarks.

Two clay impressions of ancient Babylonian cylinder seals, circa 1900-1600 B.C.E. (facsimiles, produced in 1999).

Morris originally intended to package A Babylonian Anthology with a set of clay impressions taken from ancient Babylonian cylinder seals. The idea was dropped due to technical difficulties: Morris could not devise an effective way to enclose the seals with the book. Thirty-four years later, Morris resurrected this idea for the second volume of Vignettes. The accompanying vignette is titled "Better Late Than Never." The two clay impressions shown here were taken from ancient cylinder seals dated to circa 1900-1600 B.C.E. The seals were typically used to designate ownership, but could also be employed as ornaments or amulets, or for religious purposes.

Henry Morris.

Omnibus: Instructions for Amateur Papermakers with Notes and Observations on Private Presses, Book Printing and Some People Who Are Involved in These Activities. [North Hills, PA]: Bird & Bull Press, 1967.

Henry Morris wrote Omnibus as an introductory manual on how to make paper. When Morris first started making his own paper, there were no such books available; he had learned how to make paper through his own trial and error, and by corresponding with other papermakers. Omnibus was intended both to provide useful instructions and to demonstrate that the craft could be an enjoyable pastime. In his introduction, Morris wrote that "in order to lure the observers away from the garden of pleasure and into the paths of learning, I have mixed up the instructions with the interesting sidelights and they will have to read it all or take the risk of missing something. This method has the added advantage of distracting the would-be papermaker from the perils he faces by reminding him of all the fun he can have if he is persistent in his efforts."

Henk Voorn.

Old Ream Wrappers: An Essay on Early Ream Wrappers of Antiquarian Interest. North Hills, PA: Bird & Bull Press, 1969.

Old Ream Wrappers was the first book printed on the subject of ream wrappers. It was a project suggested by Henk Voorn when he and Henry Morris met during Morris's first visit to Europe. Ream wrappers are the cover, paper, or label used as packaging on the outside of a ream of paper. They usually included a printed graphic which identified the paper's maker. Very few of these ephemeral items have survived to the present day. The text of Old Ream Wrappers is accompanied by forty-four illustrated examples of these graphics, dating from 1560 to circa 1840. Two of the illustrations were printed from original copperplates, which had been used to print graphics for Dutch ream wrappers in the nineteenth century. Examples of original ream wrappers can be seen framed on the wall.

Original ream wrappers. Bird & Bull Press Archives.

1. Isaac Flagg, Exeter Mills, New Hampshire, [post-1833]. The first mill in New Hampshire, Exeter Mills was founded in 1777 by Richard Jordan. Isaac Flagg and Thomas Wiswall operated it as a partnership from 1815 until Wiswall's death in 1833, after which Flagg continued operations on his own. Reproduced in Old Ream Wrappers.

2. Adrian Rogge. Rogge operated from 1770-1817. Reproduced in Old Ream Wrappers.

3. Andrew J. Allen, Dove Mill, Leominster.

Engraved printing block for Old Ream Wrappers, [circa 1969].

This engraved block was used to print the image shown here in Old Ream Wrappers. It is a facsimile of an image found on the ream wrappers used by Casparus Raket (d. 1710) in the early eighteenth-century. The image blends the arms of Amsterdam with images of papermaking and Raket's own initials. Heraldic rules would normally call for the lions in the design to be shown supporting the shield of Amsterdam. Instead, they support the image of a paper mill, and each rests one foot upon a ream of paper. In order to achieve the desired image in print, the plate itself has to be engraved in reverse. This can be seen from the text, which appears backwards on the plate.

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