Histories of Newark / standard edition

As soon as we told our friend Rebecca Johnson Melvin, who worked in Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library, that Ray had decided to retire from teaching, she said the City of Newark was looking for someone to design an almost-written history of Newark, Delaware.

At the moment we were starting to think about starting a press and had tentatively named it "Wallflowers Press." It would be 2 years before Lead Graffiti came into existance.

We said, "Absolutely." "But with a couple of requirements."

  • We were the book's designers. We would be willing to listen to complaints or suggestions from anyone directly involved, but did not have to incorporate or follow any of them.

  • The full run had to be hard cover with a full dust-jacket

  • Had to be printed on two colors of paper with all photographs printed as duotones

The book ended up at 288-pages. This book was printed via offset lithography (not letterpress). Below is a sample spread showing one of the earliest maps of Newark and the "citizen band" which ran through almost every page of the book.


The citizen band is one of the most dominant elements. The design of the book utilizes a generally 2-column grid for the book, but images are positioned with little regard for continuity. You often see this disregard for continuity in much of our work. We don't like things that look like we did them except that they may not look like anyone else did them.

If you want to see 20 spreads from the book highlighting some of our favorite citizen images, you can click here

The book has a couple of interesting elements as far as we are concerned. First is a rough fore edge (front edge of the book). We’ve deliberately incorporated page creep into the the book by nesting three eight-page signatures so the edges are not in alignment. Then we don’t trim them. We only trim the top and bottom of the book.

Each of the three nested eight-page signatures start with a Vanilla color signature then two white signatures. That way the colors of the pages jump back and forth 24 times throughout the book. We thought it would give the book a bit more of aged quality. The paper is uncoated, but pretty smooth. Duotones are done in black and PMS 547 (see the captions above) in a 175 line screen. We wanted the citizen band across the middle to have the people recognizable even though they are small.

The hard back cover is black using two foil-stamped colors (silver and dull grey) to mimic the colors on the silver coin which has been imaged to be shiny and tarnished the way a coin might be.

We are also excited to be doing a full dust jacket that folds at the top and bottom which we hope will add a nice finished touch to the book.

Don Rash, a nationally known bookbinder, will be producing a dozen leather bound copies. These will also include on of the George II coins along with ephemera produced during the project.

We hope to have books by December 6 for a December 7 booksigning.

For a guy that thought he had dropped out of the design world this project turned out to be a pretty serious design project.

The design of the book includes a 1″ band that will run through the middle of every page of the book to include current citizens of Newark. A book on the history of the city doesn’t have room for the contemporary city and a lot of the old photos do not include much of the humanity that has gone into that history.

This citizen band was included to counter both of those problems.We’ve finished the main effort toward taking citizens of Newark photographs. Here are the totals.

  • 98 : scheduled hours included in photoshoots

  • 5,054 : total number of citizen photos taken

  • 6.86 : total gigabytes of digital files of originals images

  • 1,237 : total number of retouched photos

  • 2.79 : total gigabytes of digital files of originals images

  • 155 : estimated hours involved with retouching

  • 3,767 : total citizens shown (some in multiple images)

While the effort in the citizen photography was far more than we anticipated the fun of doing it was also far beyond what we anticipated.

Once we had decided to do the citizen band the page design was adjusted to have slightly wider side margins of each spread. We had the idea that throughout the 300 page book we would tell a bit of a story related to the beginning and end grouping on each spread. That turned out to be overly optimistic, as there was just no way to record those stories. It was a good idea that would have really added to the book. If you click below to look at the spreads the 2nd spread has a story about the right side photo to give you an idea of how cool it would have been.

Histories of Newark / deluxe edition

WE DECIDED EARLY ON TO HAVE A DOZEN COPIES of the book bound in leather and we wanted to do something special with it. The binding is designed by Don Rash, a letterpress printer, bookmaker and restorer from whom Jill has taken a couple of technical leather binding workshops.

King George II signed the charter to form the City of Newark in 1758. A bit of searching on the Internet found a silver half shilling with King George II's portrait on one side and as fate would have it, was minted in 1758.

 You can see the 1758 at the top back of the coin.

You can see the 1758 at the top back of the coin.

One of our favorite stores in London which is another story, is CoinCraft. A quick email was fired off. "Can we get 12 of these?" $75 apiece and they were ours. It took CoinCraft about 3 months to track down the coins.

When you pull the book out of the slip case is the inset silver half shilling coin that shows both sides. King George II signed the charter for the City of Newark in 1758. A bit of searching on the Internet showed

We started designing Histories of Newark: 1758-2008 within a few months of retiring from teaching. We also took many of the contemporary photographs used in the book. There were 57 authors from the Newark area who contributed chapters.

Visually, the most striking element to the design is a band running through the center of each page of full length figures of more then 3,700 Newark Citizens. One thousand copies of the hardbound edition were printed and have been sold.

In addition we produced a dozen deluxe leather-bound copies shown in the image above.

The bindings for twelve numbered deluxe copies of Histories of Newark were created by Don Rash, Plains, PA. Each book has a full leather case binding with a 1758 British silver half shilling coin inset into the front cover. The material is black Nigerian goatskin. The titles are stamped in silver and gray on spines and front boards. Blind impressions of silhouettes of the citizen photos are stamped into the spine and covers, aligning with the images in the text. In order to allow the obverse of the coins to be visible without disfiguring the original endsheets, new endsheet sections incorporating cloth inner joints were sewn onto the textblocks. New pastedowns with circular cutouts frame the coins on the inside of the covers. The paper for the new endsheets is vintage Curtis Rag from the former Curtis Paper Company of Newark, Delaware. The top edges of the textblocks are toned with acrylics, and there is a black ribbon marker in each book. The books are housed in slipcases covered with black bookcloth.

The deluxe book comes in an oversized library box with 27 pieces of letterpress and other ephemera, such as newspaper & magazine articles, posters, an unfolded dustjacket and endsheets with historical maps of Newark.

Interested in buying a deluxe copy?

Next book entry : Histories of Newark : the citizen band