New Harmony’s Printing and Craftsmanship

Upper and Lower Case Letters

Have you ever wondered where the term “Upper and Lower Case Letters” came from?

Take a look at these letter drawers from the New Harmony printing office and the answer will become apparent. During setup of typefaces for printing, capital letters were placed in the higher, or “upper” case of letters, and the smaller letters in the “lower” case. Wow. Never knew that!

New Harmony Newspapers

Cornelius Tiebout (1773–1832), artist, printer, and renowned engraver, moved to New Harmony in 1826 to join Robert Owen’s new community. Using the town’s printing press, Tiebout published, along with several books, a bi-monthly newspaper called Disseminator of Useful Knowledge, considered progressive material for the time.

Owen and his partner William Maclure attracted intellects such as educators, scientists and artists to settle in New Harmony.  This helped turn the community into a center for scientific research, educational reform and artistic expression. As a result, many scholarly books were produced from New Harmony’s printing office, which was quite impressive for a town of less than 1000 residents.

Harmonists made beautiful, sturdy furniture
New Harmony Brewery

Harmonists Were Excellent Builders

They were also excellent builders. For brick construction, as the bricks were laid in a lengthwise pattern, at every sixth row they were turned on their ends.  This served to improve a building’s structural integrity. Also, original buildings were designed with no gutters.  Instead, the bottom most bricks (or slats, in the case of a clapboard exterior), were angled slightly outwards in order to help guide rainwater to flow away from the structure’s foundation. Both these features can be seen in the above photo of New Harmony’s original brewery.

Plastered Walls in New Harmony Buildings
New Harmony’s Plastered Walls Sign
Harmonists Used Virtually No Nails
New Harmony’s Dutch Biscuits

Dutch biscuits were used as an effective insulation method for their buildings.  Mud and straw were wrapped around a wooden lath (a small, flat strip of wood) that is then set into a slot into the wall. This provided insulation equivalent to that of a modern home. As you can see, these walls are still in great shape after almost 200 years.

What’s up next? It will be MY FINAL POST ON NEW HARMONY!!  It’s Maximillan and Bodmer Expedition Exhibit. Similar to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but BETTER!

Start at the Beginning of this New Harmony Series

What’s our next adventure? We’re going on a Viking Grand European River Cruise!

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