Typewriter Printed Book • First of the Kind • 1919


“It was bound to come. With the holiday season approaching, with book-lovers looking forward to new fiction, to special editions and illuminated texts, with nearly all the book and job compositors in New York City anticipating the festive season by beginning their “vacations” a few months earlier than ordinary people, and with pressmen “locked out” because of secession, something just had to be done to fill the want created by type that would not be set and presses that would not turn. So, enter the first book ever printed without the aid of typesetters or regular pressmen.

“It is “Piggie,” in itself an unusual book in that it romances so whole-souledly about hogs that one turns page 300 undecided whether to characterize it as the Pollyanna of the Chicago stockyards or as a post-bellum impressionistic conception of the true, inward piggishness of man. …” [Link to the complete article in 30 November 1919 issue of The New York Times]


“A novelty of book making. This book was written with a typewriter, the typewritten pages were photographed, and the book printed from the photographic plates. This was made necessary by a strike in the printing trades of New York, which prevented publication of books in the usual manner. The book is a pleasing innovation of permanent value, and perhaps may be the forerunner of the form in which all books of the future will be issued.” – Dustjacket of Piggie (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1919).


For more on ‘typewriter printed books’ see Printing without Type-setters, a composite volume of three numbers of the Literary Digest and other matter relating to the printers’ strike in 1919, gathered by Byron A. Finney, reference librarian emeritus at the University of Michigan. (Prime example of library use of the ‘typewriter printed book’ and still very valuable: Dictionary Catalog of the Research Libraries of the New York Public Library, 1911-1971 (G. K. Hall, 1979) in 800 volumes. It replicates the unique typewritten cards once filed alphabetically in thousands of wooden catalog drawers now vanished from the third floor of the Schwartsman Building.)

❧ Call number for the Princeton copy of Piggie is: (Ex) Item 6763728.