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The Legacy Press



Books about the Printing, Paper, and Bookbinding Arts

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Established in 1997 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, by me, Cathleen A. Baker, The Legacy

Press isnow located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The first books issued under this

imprint were printed by hand and fulfilled the degree requirements for the MFA in

Book Arts at the University of Alabama (2000). These now out-of-print titles are

viewable on another page.

My thesis project was Endgrain Designs & Repetitions: The Pattern Papers of

John DePol co-authored with John DePol (1913–2004), the celebrated American

wood engraver. The friendship that arose from that project was cherished by us

both, and I continue to keep John’s remarkable work available to book-arts

practitioners and collectors. (The limited edition is now out-of-print, and an offset

edition was published in mid-2015.)

While printing Endgrain Designs on my Vandercook No. 4 in the summer of

2000, I often wondered what it would be like to publish books that did not take so

much time at the press and that could be offered at much more affordable prices.

Consequently, I decided that The Legacy Press would specialize in well-designed, offset (and later, digitally)-printed books. In 2005 after finishing my PhD at U-A, I moved to Ann Arbor in my home state and was Senior/Exhibitor Conservator for The University of Michigan Library. In March 2016, I retired from the University and I am now Conservation Librarian Emerita.

The first offset-printed book that The Legacy Press published was Dorothy Field’s wonderful illustrated essay, Paper and Threshold: The Paradox of Spiritual Connection in Asian Cultures (2007, now out-of-print). It was printed in full color in China in order to keep the costs down. I was very pleased with the results, and the book won a 2008 Independent Publisher Book Award Bronze Medal.

More than a decade ago, while discussing a book project with my friend and fellow Ann Arborite, book conservator and bookbinding historian, Julia Miller, she expressed a desire to have her book printed in Michigan in order to support local businesses during the recession of 2008/09. To my surprise, I discovered that Ann Arbor has a long history as a “printing” town, and there were a number of respected book manufacturers located within a few miles of my home office; now far fewer, unfortunately. With the publication of Elaine Koretsky’s, Killing Green: An Account of Hand Papermaking in China (2009), all of The Legacy Press books have been printed and bound locally. While this increases the cost/price of books somewhat, I feel it was the right decision, and the added bonus is that I can talk to printing professionals face-to-face.

The year 2010 was a landmark one. Julia Miller’s Books Will Speak Plain: A Handbook for Identifying and Describing Historical Bindings was issued a few months after my book was published: From the Hand to the Machine. Nineteenth-Century American Paper and Mediums: Technologies, Materials, and Conservation. The latter work is based on knowledge accumulated over my forty+ years as a conservator and book-arts practitioner. Since their publication, both of these books have secured several national awards. In 2014 after two printings, the 2nd edition of Books Will Speak Plain was issued, and From the Hand to the Machine is in its 2nd printing.

Other award-winning books include Aimee Lee’s Hanji Unfurled: One Journey into Korean Papermaking (2012), in its 3rd printing. A Song of Praise for Shifu by Susan Byrd is a much decorated title (2013). Among other honors, it was named the Best Micro-Press Book 2014 by the Eric Hoffer Book Awards.

Sheila Waters' poignant book Waters Rising: Letters from Florence was published in 2016, exactly 50 years after the devastating flood in Florence from which emerged the origins of library and archives conservation education. Waters Rising received the 2017 Society of American Archivists Preservation Publication Award.

The Paper & Mediums Study Collection, compiled by myself, was a limited-edition portfolio comprising 63 paper samples and examples of printing and drawing mediums. Despite the high price, it sold out and has received very good reviews.

Vol. 1 in the series, Suave Mechanicals: Essays on the History of Bookbinding, edited by Julia Miller, was published in early 2013, Vol. 2 in March 2015, Vol. 3 in October 2016, Vol. 4 in November 2017 (out of print), Vol. 5 in March 2019, and Vol. 6 (out of print) in June 2020. Vol. 7 was published in early 2022. Vol. 8 is expected in late 2023.

Vol. 1 in the series Papermaker 's Tears: Essays on the Art and Craft of Paper, edited by Tatiana Ginsberg, was published in mid-June 2019, and Vol. 2 is expected in fall 2023.

In October 2016, the monumental book (nearly 700 pages), Yours Respectfully, William Berwick: Paper Conservation in the United States and Western Europe, 1800–1935 by Christine A. Smith was published; 50 special copies with pieces of the silk crepeline that Berwick used to repair George Washington's Last Will and Testament are also available. A slight deviation from the books that The Legacy Press usually publishes is the catalogue by Pablo Alvarez, The Art and Science of Healing: From Antiquity to the Renaissance, for the exhibition at the University of Michigan, February–April 2017. Quickly following that book was the publication of the 2nd edition of Peter and Donna Thomas' wonderful book, They Made the Paper at Tuckenhay Mill: Interviews with Retired Hand Papermakers. That book features reminiscences of the daily activities of 8 men and women who worked in the mill and includes a surprising amount of very interesting information about hand papermaking as practiced in England from between the World Wars to 1970 when the mill closed. Julia Miller's second book, Meeting by Accident, was published in February 2018, and it has already received very good reviews.

A second book about the history of an English papermill, the renowned Hayle Mill in Maidstone, Kent, entitled The Green Family of Papermakers and Hayle Mill by Maureen P. Green, was published in mid-April 2018. Six months later two extraordinary books were published in October 2018: Timothy Barrett's European Hand Papermaking, and Pablo Alvarez' book about Alonso Paredes' printing manual (ca. 1680). The first edition of Tim's book went out of print in 8 months, and the 2nd edition – softcover – was reprinted again in August 2021.

In addition to editing and designing The Legacy Press books, I am busy conducting research into the first manufacture of wove paper in the West. This paper appeared in John Baskerville's Virgil (Birmingham, 1757). I am convinced that James Whatman, Sr. made this wove paper not on a woven-wire cover, as has been surmised by generations of paper historians, but instead on a piece of cloth secured to the top of a single-face laid mould. I have successfully conducted numerous papermaking experiments using this technique with the help of Tim Barrett at the University of Iowa Center for the Book and Tim Moore, mouldmaker. To solidify my knowledge and familiarity with the "Virgil wove" and the book, I have visited public and private collections across this country and in Ireland, the U.K., and Germany on trips made in 2018 and 2019, trips funded by the Bibliographical Society of America's Katharine Pantzer Senior Fellowship and by a very generous anonymous donor. To date (May 2023), I have examined 189 copies, including a copy at Keio University in Tokyo. In due course, I will publish my findings.

In late July 2018, I presented the Rare Book School's Sol M. & Mary Ann O'Brian Malkin Lecture in Bibliography: "New Research into John Baskerville's Virgil (1757): Its Wove Paper and Typographical Variants."And at its October 2018 meeting, the Guild of Book Workers honored me with its Lifetime Achievement Award. I was supposed to teach a new RBS course G-75 Paper as Bibliographical Evidence in summer 2020, but was postponed twice due to the pandemic. Thankfully it was presented in June 2022 and was well-received. It will be repeated in June 2023.

As we all know, in early 2020, the world began to suffer from a pandemic, COVID-19, and life as we knew it changed. Because I work from home, I have been relatively unaffected by this terrible situation and have continued preparing books for publication. However, I suspect that my activities will be postponed if my authors or someone in their families get sick, or even if they remain well, are unable to complete the research needed to finalize their manuscripts. Thankfully my printer, Sheridan Books, Inc. continued operating, and so Suave Mechanicals, Vol. 6 was published in June 2020. Unfortunately, sales dropped off precipitously during March, April, and May. As a result, The Legacy Press lost a lot of income needed to continue publishing. Thankfully, beginning in June, sales have gradually increased. As a result of diminishing sales and other considerations, I have decided to publish some books with softcovers, some printed digitally (as opposed to offset), thus allowing me to avoid paying out large amounts of money for printing. The quality of the digitally printed books remains high and books can be offered at a competitive retail prices, though printing/binding costs remain high no matter how books are produced. Therefore, in November 2020, one softcover book was published, Jim Horton's Commercial Wood Engraving in the 20th Century. In January 2021, Making Impressions: Women in Printing and Publishing appeared in softcover, and in February, both Peter and Donna Thomas: Bibliography, 1974–2020 and Julia Miller's new book, Tradition and Individuality: Bindings in the University of Michigan Greek Manuscript Collection, in hardcover, were published. Closely following these was Russell Maret's intriguing and delightful book, Visionaries & Fanatics and Other Essays on Type Design, Technology, & the Private Press, published in both hard- and softcover, and in August, the long-awaited Coptic Bookbindings in the Pierpont Morgan Library by Theodore C. Petersen and edited by Frank Trujillo was published, finally after 70 years! The year 2021 was a very productive one with 2 more books coming out before the New Year: Gary Frost's A Crafted Typology of the Codex (now in its 2nd printing) and Richard Saunders' Reams in the Desert. Vol. 7 of Suave Mechanicals was published in February 2022.

Even before the pandemic, I had made a decision that The Legacy Press will cease publishing new titles in 2025, when I will be 80 years old. Rest assured, however, that The Legacy Press books that remain in-print in 2025 will still be available, and popular books will be reprinted and sometimes, new editions of them will be published. Right now I have over 10 new titles that I expect to publish in the intervening years, and therefore I am not accepting any new book proposals. Volume 9 of Suave Mechanicals will be the last in that series, and Papermaker's Tears will end with the publication of vol. 2 in 2023. I want to acknowledge the incredible work of these series editors, Julia Miller and Tatiana Ginsberg, respectively. With seven volumes of Suave Mechanicals already published, Julia has guided so many authors into print, providing them with unfailing support and generously giving her vast knowledge about the history of bookbinding, and she will continue to do that through vol. 9.

 I want to thank all my past, present (and future) authors and editors who are responsible for the quality of the content of The Legacy Press books since 2007 when Dorothy Field's book, Paper and Threshold, became the first book I published "commercially." And to the many customers of The Legacy Press books who ensured the publication of quality books , I give my heartfelt thanks.

Sheila Waters died in mid-March 2022, just a few days after celebrating her 93rd birthday. We exchanged emails on her birthday and made plans for me to visit in mid-June. I am devastated that she is no longer with us. Sheila was a remarkable woman and I am blessed to have known and worked with her.

In July 2022, the best-selling title, Paper and Colour: Dyes and Dyeing around the World, edited by Radha Pandey, was published, and the first printing sold out in a month. A second printing was published in October. In early November, Building the Book from the Ancient World to the Present Day, by Barbara Heritage and Ruth-Ellen St. Onge, published by The Legacy Press. It is the catalog for the exhibition held at the Grolier Club in the last quarter of 2022.

In late October 2022, I finally contracted Covid and suffered symptoms of a bad cold and nausea. After 3 weeks, I was back to something like normal without any lasting ill-effects. This did slow progress down, however, and as a result, several titles were late getting to the printer. But since May 2023, TLP has published 3 new titles – On the Edge by Georgios Boudalis, The Way of Washi Tales by Kyoko Ibe and Elise Thoron, and 'Morris Marbles' by Alan Isaac – as well as the 3rd edition of Julia Miller's best-selling Books Will Speak Plain. By the end of 2023, I expect to have four new titles published or at the printer's.

Another consequence of my illness was the realization that my acting as The Legacy Press' warehouse manager, packer, and shipper, was cutting deeply into the time I should be spending doing other, more interesting things. And so in mid-December 2022, I hired a local distributor to store and ship TLP books. Unfortunately, that did not work out to my satisfaction, and in early May, I signed a contract with Oak Knoll Books to become the full-service distributor of The Legacy Press books. The extra time that I will now have will allow me to devote more attention to publishing books and to get back to my researching the wove paper in Baskerville's Virgil.


Cheer, Cathy


For information, please contact:


Cathleen A. Baker

The Legacy Press

1513 Long Meadow Trl

Ann Arbor MI 48108–9633