Happy 4th of July: Printing and Design in Colonial America


To celebrate Independence Day this year, we're stepping back in time to see what the printing industry was like when this holiday began. We'll take a look at the newspapers, advertising and graphic design that was present during this important time in American history.

printing press


The printing press paved the way for newspapers to became an essential form of communication in the 1700's. Popular papers from this time included The Philadelphia Gazette, published by Benjamin Franklin, and The Boston Gazette and Country Journal. These publications provided people with information about the current state of the war and everyday affairs in Congress. Below is an issue of The Boston Gazette from October 1776.


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Besides news, colonial papers were also home to some of the first printed advertisements. Advertising became extremely popular for businesses and individuals alike. Ads were placed for everything from coffee and horses for sale, to ships voyages and apprentice positions. Below are a few examples of early newspaper ads.



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Design & Typography

Publication design in the colonial era was somewhat minimal. Paper was not to be wasted and many early publications tried to fit as much type on a page as possible. The line spacing was usually centered, and horizontal rules were often used to break up sections. Most of typefaces used in early American printing came from Europe. Baskerville and Caslon were two very popular faces back then that we still use today.



Click here to see more examples of early typography


We hope you've enjoyed our look back at printing and design in colonial times. Have a fabulous 4th of July!

About The Author

Graphic Designer, Amateur Homebrewer, Iced Coffee Connoisseur, Avocado Addict