The Bowne Specimen Book — An Interview with Barbara Henry

March 31, 2011 § 9 Comments

Considering that it was printed from metal type, wood type, and Linotype, and is beautifully designed and printed, it is no wonder that the amazing Specimen Book of Nineteenth-Century Printing Types, Borders, Ornaments, & Cuts in the Collection of Bowne & Co., Stationers took three years to finish. Hear former Bowne master printer Barbara Henry talk to Doug Clouse about printing the Specimen Book, passing out while mailing the finished books, and working at Bowne & Co. (6 mins. long)


§ 9 Responses to The Bowne Specimen Book — An Interview with Barbara Henry

  • happy to have gotten a copy some years ago from booksellers Bob & Lynne Veatch. It’s a fascinating production of a fantastic collection that’s up there with the Tom Lyons’ collection of 19th century ornamented types owned by Dave Greer.

  • Jean Hayter says:

    I was one of the many volunteers who worked on the specimen book – my copy is one of my most precious possessions. I loved being even a tiny part of the making of this book.

  • Christy Hale says:

    I volunteered at Bowne & Company in the mid-80s with Barbara, and am happy to own one of the copies of this stunning specimen book of 19th century typography, as well as some of Barbara’s own linocut prints. I look at her framed work daily and am reminded of the lovely gathering of volunteers at Bowne.

    • Thanks for writing in, Christy! We mounted an exhibit a while back of works created at Bowne, including the specimen book and many other pieces Barbara created. It was incredible to see how productive she was! We hope you’ll consider signing our petition if you haven’t already (, and tell others about Bowne and our efforts!
      Laura Nicholas
      former volunteer

  • Jean Hayter says:

    I too was a volunteer and have one of these specimen books – which I have and will continue to treasure.

    I have a large stack of ‘items’ printed at Bowne that I will scan and forward for upload – first chance I have – no idea when that might be – I now volunteer with other history groups.

  • I was gratified to be part of the group that produced this specimen book. Ginna Johnson asked me to write an introduction, edit the book, and identify the types. Barbara Henry did a superb job of printing a difficult book. Combining a large assortment of 19th-century metal type, wood type, and Linotype identifying lines was complicated. Some of these elements had to be printed separately. But the result was well worth the three years of effort that went into it.
    -Steve Saxe

  • I love this book! I bought a first edition at Bowne when I was visiting Seaport. I refer to it often. Thanks to all that had a hand in this spectacular book.

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