Chapbooks were produced cheaply on just one sheet of paper, sold for a ha’penny each by travelling salesmen (‘Chapmen’) and would often be the only books a child would own. Back in the 1800s, these books would be filled with poems, fairy tales and puzzles, and were a child’s first indoctrination into the world of literature.
I find printed ephemera fascinating and chapbooks are fine examples of beautifully printed items. As the quote above suggests, originally the Chapbooks where printed on a large sheet and folded up and more like pamphlets. Starting with crude arrangements of woodcuts and children’s songs or poems, they changed to stories of the day and moral tales of heroism or devotion. As the movement of social pamphlets took off, they became booklets of political theories and reports on social conditions.
The publisher of the book I have is William Davison (1781–1858). Born in Alnwick, he was an pharmacist, then spotting a change in new technology, he became a printer, engraver/etcher, and a bookseller of his works as he became a publisher who also sold the typefaces he used.
I really like this example of colour printing