Fine Press Americana – Wau Bun–“The Early Day” in the Northwest

The two shelves to the left of the Holford Defoe collection hold a selection of Fine Press books . This collection (approx. 600 volumes in the Rosenbach collections) provides an overview of the best of the 19th-20th century printing. These presses were interested in the production of the “book beautiful.” In addition to the publications of well-known private presses, the collection contains a small collection of gift books, and publications of such book clubs and societies as the Club of Odd Volumes (Boston), the Grolier Club (New York), and the Philobiblon Club (Philadelphia).

The title which recently caught my eye, Wau Bun– “The Early Day” in the Northwest by Mrs. Kinzie was published in fine press edition for members of the Caxton Club in 1901 and then by the Lakeside Press in 1932.

The book recounts the experiences of a young, genteel wife (Mrs. Kenzie) adjusting to the military life and frontier conditions of life at Fort Winnebago, Wisconsin, in the early 1830s. She describes her perilous journeys back and forth to the early settlement of Chicago, her complex cultural encounters with a diverse frontier society, and her determination to instill her own standards of civilized behavior and Christian observance. There is abundant information on the customs, folklore, economic practices, life-cycle events, medical treatments, diet, warfare, environmental responses, social hierarchies, and gender roles of the different groups of people that Kinzie comes to know best. For more information on pioneering women look here:

The Caxton Club (named after the printer William Caxton) of Chicago was founded in 1895 by fifteen Chicago bibliophiles who desired to support the publication of fine books in the spirit of the prevailing Arts and Crafts Movement. The club still meets to this day and has over 300 members (local and out-of-state). The Lakeside Press was established in 1908 by R.R Donnelly & Sons’ Co. It was a seven year apprenticeship school, training young men in both the theoretical and practical knowledge of the printing trade.

Being that both the Caxton Club and the Lakeside Press are located in Chicago and that Mrs. Kinzie’s book includes great detail on the early Chicago settlement it makes sense why both fine presses would choose to print this book.