The firm of George Wilson, who moved to Williamsburg from Norfolk, Virginia in the late 1760s. In 1773, George Wilson specialized in “Boots and Shoes for Gentlemen.” Boot making was considered the most sophisticated and prestigious branch of the trade. It followed a centuries-old tradition. The making of boots and shoes for men and the making of shoes for women were separate pursuits.
Men could select shoes from a stock of “sale shoes” in popular-styled, already-sized shoes. Alternately, if his feet were an unusual size, he could order a pair made order, which required a day’s wait. The firm’s specialty was boots for riding. Wilson’s sister-in-law was the proprietor of the shoe factory of Mary Wilson and Company.
The chart on the wall shows the prices of goods sold.
Printing and Binding Office
The printer spent hours just to produce a newspaper or book. Setting type for one page of the weekly newspaper required 25 hours of hand labor.
The type is set in the galleys backwards, locked into the chase and secured. Learn more about the process of printing Colonial Williamsburg Almanack
In the 18th-century the book binding office served as a stationer’s, a post office, an advertising agency, an office supply shop, a newsstand, and a bookbindery. It sold magazines and books, maps and almanacs,and even sealing wax!
Books were sold unbound. Customers liked to choose their own bindings to show off status and wealth or to personal tastes. Here you could have a book bound from start to finish.
Groups of printed pages or signatures of four, eight, 12, or 16 pages contained two or more pages on each side of a sheet. When folded and cut the signatures presented the text in the proper order for binding.
A bookbinder compiled the signatures and beat them with a heavy hammer to make the sheets lie close. He arranged them on a sewing frame and stitched them together at the back fold with linen thread. As he sewed, he looped the strands around thick hemp cross threads, which created characteristic horizontal ridges across the spine and unified the assembly. were laid on a sewing frame and stitched to cords at the back fold with linen thread. These cords formed horizontal ridges across the spine
The book binder demonstrates sewing a book.