Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tidbits From the 1888 Commercial: A Visit to the Commercial Printing House

Dusty D's favorite paper from Ypsilanti's past is definitely the Ypsilanti Commercial. Originally edited by the tempestuous C. R. Pattison, the paper was taken over in 1887 by the Coe Brothers when Pattison retired.

The Commercial under Pattison was pro-Temperance, pro-suffrage, and anti-slavery. Pattison engaged in regular and fiery criticisms of the other city paper over at Michigan Avenue and Washington, the Sentinel.

Under Pattison, the Commercial printing house stood on top of the Riverside Park sledding hill on the southeast corner of Cross and Huron; it later moved to Pearl and Huron. But it wasn't just a newspaper. They did all sort of job printing for anyone who wanted posters, commencement booklets, wedding announcements, church bulletins, calling cards, and so on. Dusty D's Baltimore grandfather, Charles Benjamin Franklin Bien, was a job printer, and DD's dad, a longtime printing press mechanic, owns a beautiful old-school self-inking platen press.

A look at some tidbits from the January 27, 1888 issue gives a peek at life in the printing house.

Here's one example of the job printing done there: a color poster advertising the Cornwell Fire Company's Masquerade Ball. Dusty D is not sure why a fire company is throwing a gala masquerade, but there you are.

Another item published at the Commercial was the Normal News, the campus newspaper.
Under the Coe Brothers (later just Henry Coe), the Commercial gentled down a bit from Pattison's fusillades of the past. They even went so far as to reprint a most charming description, taken from their rival the Sentinel, describing an evening of sleighing and reading.
A final charming tidbit details a handwritten newspaper written by two young Ypsi boys, even finding space in the Commercial to reprint one of their jokes.

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