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© 1997 – 4 March 2023

The Legacy Press

Ann Arbor, Michigan USA


The Legacy Press


Books about the Printing, Paper, and Bookbinding Arts

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The Legacy Press, scroll to the bottom of this page.

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), also in its 2nd 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 is expected in late 2021.

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 late 2021.

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 published in mid-June 2019.

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, I have examined 185 copies. 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 G75 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. Hopefully it will be repeated in 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. Right now I have over 15 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 I won't see her again and 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, 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 (I think) any lasting ill-effects. This did slow progress down, however, and as a result, several titles have been late getting to the printer. As of January 7, 2023, there are three books at the printer, with another to follow in a week.

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, I hired a local distributor to store and ship TLP books. (Taking orders personally remains the same.) The cost of shipping has therefore gone up slightly, but I'll try to keep these costs as low as possible. This extra time has allowed me to devote more attention to several new titles in 2023.

Good luck, stay safe,  continue to take care, and let's hope that 2023 will be a better year than 2022.

Cheer, Cathy


For information, please contact:


Cathleen A. Baker

The Legacy Press

1513 Long Meadow Trl

Ann Arbor MI 48108–9633