The Inland Printer

Welcome! Forums Resources The Inland Printer

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Anna 6 months, 1 week ago.

Author Posts
Author Posts
September 27, 2014 at 5:03 AM #16125


This topic reviews the history of The Inland Printer|The American Printer [1883–today], distinguishes it from another publication also called The American Printer [1900–1958], and offers tips for circumventing the dead-ends and detours of seeking digital copies.

The Inland Printer grew from The Chicago Printer, a short-lived periodical issued by Henry R. Boss of Chicago. After debuting in April 1883, it failed financially after only a few editions. Editorial materials and records were then purchased by Henry O. Shepard [1844–1903] of Shepard & Johnson, the Chicago printing firm that produced it.

Building on its “remains,” Shepard released the first monthly issue of The Inland Printer in October 1883. It rapidly became the premier international professional journal for the letterpress and lithography industries.

  • Early volumes were dated October of a given year through September of the next.
  • Skyrocketing growth to 1,000+ pages soon required two per year.
  • Starting with Volume 10 (1892–1893), they spanned October–March and April–September.

Besides the printing plant, Shepard established the Henry O. Shepard Co. to publish practical manuals and operate a prestigious technical school. After his death (January 1, 1903), ownership and management passed to trusted employees he had trained during his lifetime until 1941, when the Great Depression forced it into sale.

See also Shepard Script, a mysterious typeface named in his honor.

Ownership and Titles

  • 1883–1941. The Inland Printer, The Inland Printer Company.
  • 1941. Sold to Tradepress Publishing Corp.
  • 1945. Purchased by Maclean-Hunter Publishing Corp. (established in 1887).

Online bibliographic references typically (retroactively) cite Maclean-Hunter as publisher of The Inland Printer and its later acquisitions.

  • 1958, November. Maclean-Hunter acquires The American Printer* and, addressing the offset lithography industry, combines the two as The Inland and American Printer and Lithographer.
  • 1961. Title The Inland Printer/American Lithographer; several other variations ensued.
  • 1979, January. New title American Printer and Lithographer.

*Formerly entitled The American Bookmaker and The Printer and Bookmaker. Published by J. Clyde Oswald and descendants (New York) since 1885.

  • 1982, January. American Printer; owners may have changed during this period.
  • Year unknown. American Printer acquired by Penton Media.
  • 2011. Penton Media files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.
  • 2011, August. Penton Media publishes its final issue of American Printer. It includes a farewell message by editor-in-chief Katherine O’Brien, who reviews the 128-year history of The Inland Printer.*

*Much of the information presented in this topic is based on O’Brien’s research.¹

  • 2011, August 31. Output Links announces acquisition of American Printer from Penton Media.²
  • 2011, September 12. Katherine O’Brien is hired in her former capacity by Output Links.³
  • 2012, ≤April. The journal is renamed The New American Printer.

Digital Downloads

Throughout its ownership and title history, consecutive volume numbering of the original Inland Printer has been maintained. Volume numbers duplicating those of Lockwood publications are an occupational hazard for researchers.

No digitized collection is complete, and volumes available from various sources differ. Volumes ≤1923 may still be in copyright status, which allow only limited search of the text.

  • Good News! Several volumes not available before were contributed by The University of California in early 2014.

My personal Inland Printer library is now nearly complete within the scope of THP investigation (ending with World War I).

  • Missing volumes: 01, 02 (1883–1884—these may never be available), 33, 46, 52, 55.
  • If you know or discover links to them, please share them with The THP Chapel!

“Corrected” 20th-century titles of the original The Inland Printer, The American Printer and its earlier titles have created a monumental quagmire for historians seeking information originally published by certain periodicals during certain years.

Hope ahead? It’s starting to look as if the voice of someone, somewhere has been heard. Perhaps thanks to recent contributions by The University of California, Google (and other search engines?) may be beginning to recognize The Inland Printer as a valid search string independent of related “baggage.”

Hathi Trust

Chapel member David MacMillan advises that the Hathi Trust presents more volumes and higher-resolution scans than Google Books. They are also better indexed:

The “downside” is that the trust’s consortium of academic institution partners allows visitors without a partner-affiliated account to download only individual pages, one-by-one.

When a certain limit is exceeded, one must wait (24 hours?) until permitted to resume downloading. What a tedious process for multiple pages!

This controversial policy apparently involves (unresolved? unresolvable?) issues between Google Books and libraries that participate in both programs.

To skip the time- and resource-intensive step of first displaying PDFs in your browser:

  • Right-click (mac equivalent=control-click?) “Download this page (PDF).”
  • Choose “Save Link As” from the fly-out menu.
  • Navigate to the folder where you intend to store it.
  • Rename (ALT/N or OPTION/N) the cryptic filename to one that makes sense to you.
  • Click “Save.”

Google Books

Google Books now has (most? all?) of the same volumes as Hathi Trust. The University of Minnesota collection is the default “hit” in a general search—along with ‘way much too much irrelevant stuff.

Tips for a Short List (six tops including commercial reprints of free downloads):

  • Use the (hidden?) Advanced Search feature (bookmark it or create a desktop shortcut/alias.
  • Enter the full title, “The Inland Printer, Volume __” (no quotes).

Other Sources

“Fiddle-dee-dee… I’ll think about that tomorrow” (Scarlett O’Hara, Gone With the Wind).

Best Practices?

  • First, download the full Google Books version and examine it carefully.
  • If certain pages (e.g. advertised type specimens) especially interest you, locate the same volume at Hathi Trust (links above).
  • Display the volume in your browser.
  • “Jump To” the page number published in the Google copy to the corresponding one in the Hathi copy.
  • If more than one library has contributed copies, compare them for detail.
  • Download the selected higher-resolution page/s in PDF format.
  • Instead of PDF, you may prefer a raster image of the page.
  • If so, right/control-click the browser-displayed page.
  • Choose “View Image” from the fly-out menu.
  • When the image is displayed on the next screen, right/control-click it again.
  • Choose “Save Image As” from the fly-out menu.
  • Navigate, rename and save as described above.
  • The result is usually in (lossy) jpeg format.
  • JPEG images degrade in quality every time they are saved.
  • If you intend to edit it, first save it in tiff format (loss-less even when compressed with LZW magic).
  • Save final www-bound images in png or gif format (to support transparent areas) or in jpeg format.
  • Retain the tiff image for print-bound projects.


¹O’Brien, K. (2011): Press Release, American Printer to Cease Publication.
²Plata, A.; Plata, J. (2011): Press Release, American Printer Lives Again.
³Plata, A.; Plata, J. (2011): Press Release, OutputLinks Communications Group Names Katherine O’Brien Senior Editor.

July 11, 2017 at 5:27 AM #30882


This article reminds me of the kinds of printing way back 2 to 3 decades ago.. they are really by far to what we have today. Now, we have all the sophisticated technology that brings every printing goes digital. From various types of printing materials to large format printing. We are really in a time where all the impossible from many decades ago is are now all possible.

Maureen of

July 11, 2017 at 11:04 PM #30888


Hi Maureen—thanks for joining The Type Heritage Project [THP]!

During its time as the most influential international periodical for the worldwide letterpress printing trade, The Inland Printer surely set the standard for accuracy and relevance for its diverse readers including everyone from local job-printing shops to type designers, producers and major periodical publishers.

We hope that you will regularly visit this site, stay abreast of our progress and perhaps take an interest in our most recent work to bring commercially available revivals of some 200+ fonts never before digitized for posterity to the attention of type scholars, letterpress professionals and eager collectors.

These historically priceless fonts have been expertly hand-crafted by committed volunteers who often build complete character sets from specimens contributed by THP members all over the world—one rare glyph at a time!

Thanks again for your interest in our important work, Anna


You must be logged in to reply to this topic.