Johnson, Joseph (New York, NY)
Bookbinder and Printer
New York ( 1731-1734) 1.
1. Hannah French, "Early American Bookbinding by Hand" from: "Bookbinding in
America" Lehmann-Haupt ed. 1967. pg.106.
2. Johnson was made a freeman on January 12, 1731. Collections of the N.Y.
Historical Society, The Burghers of New Amsterdam and The Freemen of New York
1765-1866 pg. 115 He may have learned the trade from William Bradford.
Lawrence C. Wroth The Colonial Printer, pg. 191.
(1734) "Joseph Johnson of the City of New York Bookbinder, is now set up
Book-binding for himself as formerly, and lives in Duke-street... near the Old
Slip Market; where all Persons in Town or Country, may gave their Books
carefully and neatly new bound either Plain or Gilt reasonable" from the New
York Gazette, October 7, 1734. Worth 'guesses' that Johnson may have earlier
been employed by William Bradford. The Colonial Printer, Lawrence C. Wroth pg.
193. The same ad was placed in The New York Gazette, September, 23-30, 1734
a similar ad appears in The New York Weekly Journal Sept 30,1734.
(1734) Johnson was suspected of having several counterfeit ten shilling
notes and although he managed to elude the constables he left behind his six
year old son. Joseph Jr. would be apprenticed, by the court, to William
Bradford printer and was expected to remain with him until reaching the age of
twenty one. Justice in N.Y. Under George II's Regime New York Times July 21,
"New Yorkers who tried to counterfeit their own local currency were no
safer, Joseph Johnson was a bookbinder and printer who printed up illegal
tender as well as pamphlets and books. one evening in 1734 a New Yorker who
had received the forged bills from Joseph brought them back. Joseph did not
deny that he had given the man the counterfeit bills, and he offered to
exchange them for legal tender. As he did so , however, he was "in an Agony an
Trembled"; an hour later he packed up his bags and absconded to Philadelphia
in the middle of the night, leaving his wife Catherine and their six-year old
son. The authorities never found Joseph but they arrested Catherine for trying
to put "a great number " of bills into circulation She was convicted of a
misdemeanor (the court assumed that she had not been a part of their
manufacture) and sentenced to receive twenty-one lashes" Dangerous Economies,
Status and Commerce in Imperial New York, Serena R. Zabin, pg 22