Early US Textbooks: From the Comma to the Interrobang
A collection of some of the earliest US textbooks and style guides on punctuation is now on show at The Museum of Printing in Massachusetts.
A Period Piece: From the Comma to the Interrobang displays 10 rare books, including an 1848 edition of the remarkable A Pickle for the Knowing Ones by businessman Timothy Dexter. First written in 1802, this epistolary series of memoir-ish essays is notable for featuring virtually no punctuation, as well as flouting grammar and spelling rules. Also on show are An Essay on Punctuation (1806), A Treatise on Punctuations (1849), and Punctuation, A Practical Handbook (1892). Visitors receive a free 32-page booklet on the history of punctuation.
The second exhibit is The First Math Books Published in America which offers up a further nine books, including A New and Complete System of Arithmetic (1788), A New and Complete System of Arithmetic Abridged for the Use of Schools (1798) and New and Complete System of Arithmetick (1816).
Both exhibitions run until the end of March 2023. The Museum of Printing is open Saturdays 10am - 4pm and at other times by appointment.
The permanent collections on display focus on the history of the American almanac from the 1800s and early 1900s, and a selection of the small paperbacks produced during the 1940s by the War Department for troops. It also contains many antique printing, typesetting, and bindery machines.