I was very skeptical about having to wake up earlier than usual to go on a field trip that would also make it so I had to miss my next class, but honestly, it was awesome! There were so many different things there that I never thought they’d have. Honestly, who would suspect a place that collects old newspapers and letters to have a lock of George Washington’s hair or a vial of tea from the Boston Tea Party? This field trip really proved to me that I’m a history nerd which is good since it’s way too late for me to change my major.

One of the items I looked at in AAS was a letter written by John Hancock. The part of the letter I liked the most was how he signed the letter. Not only was there the famous “John Hancock”, but he also signed it “your real friend.” To be honest I found this hilarious because John Hancock ain’t no fake friend but also I found it to be very personal. In my blog post about the Coquette, I talked about how letters were much more personal and showed intimacy.  It was amazing to see how true this is because even though the Coquette was a reliable source from the time it was also a work of fiction. To see the intimacy of letters in person was amazing.

Another item I looked at was a newspaper from the time of the Stamp Act. This newspaper was especially interesting because it had a skull and crossbones for the stamp instead of the issued one. To me it made me think of how rebellious the colonists were, they were pretty much rebellious teenagers. When they hated the tax on their tea they threw it in the harbor, and when they taxed paper, they made the stamp look like the British were killing them. It was a not so subtle way to be subtle about rebelling against the act. The reason I liked it so much was because we had talked about it in class and it is one of those things that you know about but you don’t really believe until you see it.

The last item I analyzed at AAS was a first edition of Common Sense by Thomas Paine. The first thing I noticed was the long S’s we have been talking about in class. However, after laughing at a couple of “common senfe’s”, I noticed at the bottom of a page there was a letter “B”. At first, I was thinking that was supposed to be a “P” for Paine but after an explanation, I learned it had to do with how the book was put together. The “B” was how they were able to tell which order to put the pages in. It really showed how the bookbinding has progressed over the years and it has proved how expensive paper was that they wanted to preserve it as much as they could. Now a days we waste paper like it’s nobody’s business.

The whole trip really showed me how important print was in the colonial times. It was amazing to see not only the finished product but also the machine that created these works. The printing press itself was amazing to see because it was so complex. There were so many steps one had to take to print one page of paper. I was honestly so surprised to find that someone could print a lot of pages within an hour because I think it would take me an hour to get the letters to stay on the tablet-thing( I forgot the name of it).  All in all, the field trip really brought everything we had been talking about, to life.


7 thoughts on “AAS

  1. Books were bound based on signatures, which was the name for each sheet of paper folded and stitched together. A long book would have many signatures depending on how many pages of the book were printed on each sheet.

    I tried to find a historical explanation, but it would require a lot of searching, so in the meantime here’s a modern design website that shows how pages would be organized on a sheet to create signatures of various lengths.


  2. I wasn’t able to attend the trip due to a doctors appointment, but I really enjoyed your post. I can get ta sense of what it was like being there. What I found interesting in your post was the part about the letter B. I didn’t know that there was more to the method of book binding. I figured it was pretty straight forward, but it makes sense to way they tried to keep things organized since printing took a lot of work to begin with. Great post 🙂


  3. Hey, Vicki. The name of the newspaper you looked at is called the “tombstone edition” of the Pennsylvania Journal, for obvious reasons lol. It’s one of the most iconic newspapers of that era even if one doesn’t know anything about 18th century newspapers. The full eulogy is funny because the newspaper died of “a stamp in her vitals.” Publishers were taxed by the half sheet, full sheet, and advertisements were taxed a full 2 schillings. This edition is representative of what most editors did, they just made fun of the tax, even though they still had to pay. I read an informative article on the power printers had and how Parliament had made a big mistake enacting a tax that targeted printers. This passage sums it up: “Printers, when uninfluenced by government, have generally arranged themselves on the side of liberty, nor are they less remarkable for attention to the profits of their profession. A stamp duty, which openly invaded the first, and threatened a great diminution of the last, provoked their united zealous opposition.”


  4. Great post! I really liked the newspaper with the skull and cross bones stamp as well, I thought that was the coolest little piece of history because it was so small yet had such a huge story to tell. I remembered in class we had the copy of that newspaper that was like the newspaper’s obituary and I thought that is such a cool historical artifact. I think it also shows just how seriously people took newspapers and printed works because they were so valuable and essential. I also agree with you on how complex the printing press was. I feel like books are something I take for granted because I am around them all the time and have such easy access to thousands of books through libraries, book stores, etc. But books back then were really something special and cherished and the printing press showed how complicated it was-even though the printers got really good at it and were able to do it quickly, it is still so much labor for something I feel I am guilty of not appreciating today as much as I could.


  5. Hi Vicki, I totally agree with you that eeing all of these documents, letters, newspapers, and books in first really gives value to what we are learning about. As you said about the Coquette, it goes to show just how important letters were, it can almost be compared to phone calls and text messaging that we participate in today. I found it really intersting as well, to see how they went to such great lengths to conserve paper compared to today, as you said, we just waste like nobodys bussiness. One of my favorite things was seeing the printing press, because it just made it clear just how much work it was to print a newspaper. I loved your ending point on how going to AAS made your realize just how much we should apperciate the technology that we have today.


    • Hi, Margret!
      Thank you for your comment! I got me thinking about newspapers back then and newspapers today. Back then so much work was put into making a single page of a newspaper and today a lot of people don’t even buy newspapers but rather read them online if they read them at all. It’s kind of sad but also it shows how much we can evolve over time. Who knows maybe someday that’ll help with the wasting paper problem!


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