Book Artist Mindy Belloff at the John Carter Brown Library

At a recent event at the John Carter Brown Library, book artist Mindy Belloff of Intima Press gave a fascinating lecture about her recent project reproducing an exact facsimile of the second printed version of the  “Declaration of Independence”  by Mary Katherine Goddard.  The “Declaration of Independence” was first printed in Philadelphia in 1776 by John Dunlap but copies of it do not include signatures nor does the text include the word “unanimous”, due to the fact that New York  had not yet ratified.  In 1777 Congress selected Mary Katherine Goddard, a remarkable woman printer, newspaper publisher, and postmistress then living in Baltimore, to print a second broadside copy for each of the thirteen states.  By that time the text included the word “unanimous” and was signed.   Besides her unique two column design, Goddard also added her own name as printer at the bottom of the sheet, risking death for treasonable acts if the outcome of the Revolution had been in favor of the British.

Mary Katherine Goddard was one of three siblings from a family of printers who published newspapers and almanacs in several cities, including the Providence Gazette from 1762-68.  Descendants of Mary’s brother William can still be found in Rhode Island, though they seem to have no relation to the Goddard furniture makers.

Ms. Belloff’s project took over a year to finally complete in November 2009.  All the work was done at her studio and press at Union Square in Manhattan.  She spent numerous hours tracking down early versions of the “Declaration of Independence” in library Special Collections along the east coast.  With careful pica measurements from an original copy at the Library of Congress, she was able to determine the exact layout and spacing needed for her facsimile.  Belloff ordered over 10,000 pieces of Caslon type from a New England foundry, including recast early ligatures and quaints as used in the Goddard broadside.  Over 7500 pieces of type were then hand set, not including spacing.  Photopolymer plates were made from digital photos of the signatures and both text and signatures were then printed by hand on the letterpress.  Belloff also hand printed a folio with accompanying text describing the history of Mary Katherine Goddard’s original broadside and the printing of her own facsimile.

The paper Belloff used was specially hand made cotton and linen paper  by Katie MacGregor of Whiting, Maine in sheets measuring approximately 21 inches by 16 inches.  The original cotton and linen paper was possibly made at the William Hoffman Paper Mill founded in Maryland around 1775 and the new sheets were tinted to resemble the original.  The facsimile broadside edition size is 100 copies and information about obtaining a copy can be found at Ms. Belloff’s Intima Press website.

Belloff Declaration of Independence These images are from an interview with Mindy Belloff on the making of her facsimile by Arianna Orland of Activate Studios as posted in Felt and Wire.

Ms. Belloff’s lecture was part of the Brown University  Charles Watts II History of the Book Program, organized by Richard Ring, Special Collections Librarian, Providence Public Library.  On Friday March 5th, Mindy Belloff held a one-day workshop entitled “A Book in a Day: Printing Without a Press” also at the John Carter Brown Library. Participants made a small accordion fold book with linocut images and rubber-stamp printed text.  To see a few of the final books and read about this experience see the Watts Book Program blog at The Bookist.   lwc


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s