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Collected and Compiled by J.H.: The Story of Deacon James Holmes

  • 32500

This is the story, told in many voices, of Deacon James Holmes, the first printer at Chosen Land, the Shaker Community at Sabbathday Lake, Maine, where this book was made. Deacon James first came to Chosen Land in 1783 as a young man. It wasn't until he was in his 80s that he received some cases of printing type and decided the only logical thing to do next was build a printing press. He did just that, and on it he printed seed packets for the Shaker garden seed industry, as well as broadsides and a series of books filled with farming wisdom.

Brother Arnold Hadd and Convivio's John Cutrone researched and printed the good deacon's biography there at Chosen Land in the summer of 1996. The book is printed letterpress from historic metal types in an edition of 200 copies on French Speckletone paper, with covers antiqued with butternut dye (we designed it to look like it came out of the deacon's garden shed, where his printing press was kept). Many fun fold-outs delve into Deacon James's many print projects, and the book even contains a packet of real Mangelwurtzel seeds. The same exact size as the deacon's farming books (about 5" tall x 4" wide), 48 pages, 1996. The illustrations are reproductions of Shaker gift drawings.

This is a Red Wagon Press book (our pre-Convivio days) and it's an edition we thought was sold out, but we recently came across a couple more copies that we are willing to send out into the world. A real rarity and one of the most special books to us, for it meant the world to get to know Brother Arnold and all the fine folks there at Chosen Land, one of our favorite places anywhere. A portion of each sale benefits the Shaker Library, where this book was researched.

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