A Hatful of Apples, or Your September Book of Days

Short and sweet: Here is your printable Convivio Book of Days calendar for September. Autumn is coming, and so is, hopefully, an abundant apple crop. This is what we dream of here in Florida, where apples will not grow. Oranges, mangoes, carambola and papaya…. all grow readily here, but it is the humble apple I wish for most.

Cover star this month: a painting, most likely from the late 1890s, called “Harvest.” It’s by American artist Levi Wells Prentice, who was self-taught and associated with the Hudson River School––and there you have another thing I tend to look longingly toward as autumn color sweeps across the land: the Hudson River Valley and the legends and lore of writers like Washington Irving. Each autumn, I find myself pulling down one of his books from the bookcase. I find myself a cozy chair and read a tale or two about the Hudson Valley he loved so much. Washington Irving: he’s like Father Christmas to those of us who love autumn.

I already know I’ve got busy days ahead so I cannot guarantee you’ll hear from me before a couple of red letter days pass this month. Both come on Monday, when it will be Labor Day once again. We think of it as our unofficial close to summer in these United States of America, but more than this, it is the day we set aside to honor the workers upon whose labor this nation was built. Later that evening, with the setting sun, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year celebration, will begin. It is a time for sweet things, as simple as a slice of apple, dipped in honey.

And there, short and sweet as promised, is your invitation to this month’s calendar. I think you’ll like it. It’s a PDF that you can print and pin to your wall, and it is a fine accompaniment to this blog. Over at the website, our Summer High Five Sale continues for just a few days more, but I’ll be writing again soon with news about our upcoming autumn sale, which features a bigger discount but also a higher minimum… so if you’re planning a purchase, well, plan accordingly. Currently, and for the next few days, take $5 off your order of $35 or more with discount code HIGH5.

Summer here persists a while longer, but knowing autumn is coming to the Hudson River Valley and other points north is all I need to know. I’m with you in spirit.


Image: “Harvest” by Levi Wells Prentice. Oil on canvas, circa 1890s [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.


For the Brewers & the Printers

Benjamin Franklin was a printer by trade and if he indeed said the words that many attribute to him (“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”), he probably would have been a big fan of the Feast of St. Augustine, which comes today, this 28th day of August, for St. Augustine is a patron saint of printers and of brewers, too. Ah, but the attribution, we know, is false, and there is some evidence that Mr. Franklin was not terribly fond of beer in printshops, anyway. He was known, when he was a London printshop apprentice, to have been more interested in water than beer, much to the astonishment of his fellow typesetters and printers, many of whom would down a few pints over the course of a workday.

Be that as it may, this closing week of August each year is a big one for us printers. Well, for book artists in general. And for brewers. We began the week with St. Bartholomew’s Day on the 24th, bringing with it the Bartlemas Wayzgoose, the biggest printshop party in town. And now, four days later, comes St. Augustine’s Day. I always imagine it being not the best of weeks to bring a delicate print job to your local printer, just in case there’s been a healthy measure of imbibing going on. Best save your print jobs for the first week of September.

St. Augustine of Hippo is not just a patron saint of printers and of brewers, but also of Aviles, the city in Spain that was home to explorer Pedro Menéndez, who sailed to the New World in 1565. The day his ships arrived here at this continent also happened to be St. Augustine’s Day, the 28th of August. He and his crew sailed into the area around Matanzas Bay, up in the northeast corner of La Florida, and he named the new Spanish settlement there San Agustín, in honor of the day he first spotted land and in honor of his hometown’s patron saint. That town is St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied settlement of European origin in the United States.

As for St. Augustine himself, he was born in Northern Africa, in what is now Tunisia, in 354, the son of St. Monica. He became a patron saint of printers thanks to his prolific writing. Books like his Confessions probably kept a lot of early printers in business. The confessions were easy to come by for Augustine: he was a fellow who liked a good time, at least early on in life, and this is the root of his patronage for brewers. His mother prayed for his conversion. Eventually he did convert and the time he spent drinking earlier on he now devoted to writing. He was long considered a Doctor of the Church and was canonized at the turn of the 14th century, about 150 years before Johannes Gutenberg perfected the idea of moveable type and ushered in the information and literacy revolution that came with the proliferation of printing. It is said that on a wall of his room St. Augustine had written these words, in large letters: “Here we do not speak evil of anyone.” Words of wisdom, worthy of writing on our walls or printing on our presses or sending to our elected officials, and words to live by in this week of celebrations print and book related––this week of Bartlemas Wayzgooses and related celebrations of papermaking, printing, bookbinding, brewing. All crafts of the human hand and heart, all––in their way and in proper doses––portals bridging earth and heaven, assisting us mere mortals to attain that graceful state of happiness in flow. I’ll take that.

Speaking of Bartlemas Wayzgooses: now that the hustle and hubbub of the premiere of our own Bartlemas Wayzgoose has passed, we welcome you to watch it anytime, from wherever you are in the world. This video experience is posted now and for posterity at the Vimeo Channel of the Jaffe Center for Book Arts. (Actually, I’ll include the video right here below… but be warned, at 90-minutes, this Bartlemas Wayzgoose is an experience, one that is best with some proper Wayzgoose fare and libation.) I think you’ll really enjoy my interview with printer Ben Blount and the beautiful Wayzgoose concert by Jay Ungar & Molly Mason. There are even a couple of songs to singalong to. All this would go very well with the work of your local small brewery, especially tonight, for St. Augustine. Cheers and huzzah!

Summer Sale!
At our online shop, our Summer High Five Sale continues: All summer long, use discount code HIGH5 at checkout for $5 off your purchase of $35 on everything in the shop. Take it to $50 and earn free domestic shipping, too. Click here to shop! We’ve lowered the price on our popular embroidered face masks from Chiapas. I’m actually sad to report that the masks are once again a hot item. Still, they’re now just $10 each. Perhaps the family who makes them was a little too optimistic when they decided last spring to stop making masks. Our favorite new thing in the shop? Millie’s Tea Towels, embroidered by hand by my mom Millie, under our new Linens & Textiles category.

Image: “Franklin the Printer.” Reproduction of a Charles Mills painting by Detroit Publishing Company, circa 1914 [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons].


Bartlemas Wayzgoose Tonight!

Tonight’s the Big Night! August 24 brings a great celebration with an odd name: it’s the Bartlemas Wayzgoose, and I’ll be hosting the online, virtual Library Wayzgoose Festival for the Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University Libraries. The World Premiere is this evening: Tuesday August 24 at 7 PM Eastern Daylight Time at www.jaffecollection.org, and also at a special link I’ll provide for you below. (Readers in Europe and the UK and Australia: I’m looking out for you!*)

This virtual Bartlemas Wayzgoose is a video event full of good stories and great music. My featured guest is activist letterpress printer Ben Blount of Evanston, Illinois. And, we’ve got a special Wayzgoose Concert by the wonderful Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, the Grammy Award winning musicians famous for their song “Ashokan Farewell” from the Ken Buns documentary The Civil War. Jay and Molly have been described as “the heart and soul of American Roots Music,” and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. They have a way of tapping into the spirit of the Hudson River Valley they call home, much like Washington Irving did. In fact, one of my favorite Jay & Molly projects was the soundtrack they recorded for the Rabbit Ears Radio production of Rip Van Winkle. The music they composed and played for that story is a complete immersion into autumn in the Catskill Mountains.

Fittingly enough, the Bartlemas Wayzgoose is an old printers’ celebration that has a hint of autumn about it. It comes about every 24th of August and it marks, in its way, the passage of time in the wheel of the year through an acknowledgement of the waning summer and diminishing daylight as we continue on our way toward the autumnal equinox.

Here’s the trailer I created for the Wayzgoose last week. It took me six hours to make this 2-minute trailer, an amount of time that is in direct proportion to the fact that the full video production of this Wayzgoose has taken me pretty much all summer. I think the trailer came out pretty darn good:

I think the finished Wayzgoose video came out even better than the trailer. If you tune in for the Wayzgoose, you’ll get to meet Ben Blount, who is an all around great guy doing honorable work, and you’ll experience the exquisite music of Jay Ungar and Molly Mason (and even sing along with them on a couple of tunes). And, I’ll tell you the story behind why we celebrate a good old Wayzgoose on this day. Or, you can read it here:

Not much is known about St. Bartholomew himself. He was one of the Twelve Disciples. He is thought to have traveled to India, but tradition says that he met his end in Armenia in the first century. His martyrdom was a gruesome one––one that by association made St. Bartholomew a patron saint of butchers (a common trade amongst my paternal ancestors) and of tanners and of bookbinders, who very often bind books in leather. I’ll leave the method of his martyrdom, based on those associations, to your imagination, but early bookbinders found it a worthy connexion, hence his patronage of their craft.

For papermakers, the connexion goes back to the days before glazed glass windows. Back then, it was waxed paper that was used to keep out the elements, and the arrival of Bartlemas was the signal that it was time to paper the windows in preparation for winter. Once this St. Bart’s window paper was made, the papermakers went back to making paper for the printers, clearing out the vats and recharging them with new pulp made from rags that had been retting all summer long.

But it is the printers who really know how to celebrate St. Bartholomew’s Day, for along with the papering of the windows at Bartlemas came the necessity of illuminating the print shop with lanterns and candles, and a good print shop proprietor would make a celebration of the day. Randall Holme, in 1688, gave us this description of the Bartlemas Wayzgoose:  “It is customary for all journeymen to make every year, new paper windows about Bartholomew-tide, at which time the master printer makes them a feast called a Wayzgoose, to which is invited the corrector, founder, smith, ink-maker, &c. who all open their purses and give to the workmen to spend in the tavern or ale-house after the feast. From which time they begin to work by candle light.”

To be sure, there was a good quantity of ale consumed as part of the Wayzgoose. In some places, mead, the delightful intoxicating beverage made from honey, was the beverage of choice. Especially in Cornwall, where a Blessing of the Mead ceremony takes place even today at this time of year. Continuing the road of connexions, our friend St. Bartholomew is also a patron saint of beekeepers, and as we gather our stores for the coming winter, it is traditional, too, to bring in the honey crop on his feast day.

Finally, here’s another bit of Bartlemas Wayzgoose lore that I love: It was on August 27, 2010, that the Jerusalem Post reported that Johannes Gutenberg’s 42-Line Bible, the first book printed from moveable type, was completed on St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1454. Some claim, too, that that first printed book explains why printing has a history of being called the Black Art. They say that Johannes Fust, Gutenberg’s business partner, sold several of the printed bibles in France without explaining how they were made. When it was discovered that the books were identical copies of each other, Fust was accused of witchcraft and was briefly imprisoned for that crime. Hence, the Black Art. It is our distinct honor, as printers, to be part of this long tradition, and we welcome all of you to celebrate this special day with us through this special event.

*Friends in the UK, Europe, and Australia:
Need to watch earlier? While I’d really love to have you join us at precisely 7 PM Eastern on Tuesday evening in order to build a big global push of positive print energy, I know there are lots of Convivio Book of Days readers in Europe and the UK and Australia, and for you, if you’re going to celebrate a proper Bartlemas Wayzgoose, you’ll need to watch earlier. At this late hour, as I write this Book of Days chapter as the 23rd of August becomes the 24th, I’ve got a direct link to the 2021 Wayzgoose for you at the Vimeo Channel of the Jaffe Center for Book Arts. Click here and you’ll get to watch the Wayzgoose anytime!

Summer Sale!
Though the Bartlemas Wayzgoose acknowledges that summer is waning, at our online shop, our Summer High Five Sale continues: All summer long, use discount code HIGH5 at checkout for $5 off your purchase of $35 on everything in the shop. Take it to $50 and earn free domestic shipping, too. Click here to shop! We’ve lowered the price on our popular embroidered face masks from Chiapas. I’m actually sad to report that the masks are once again a hot item. Still, they’re now just $10 each. Perhaps the family who makes them was a little too optimistic when they decided last spring to stop making masks. Our favorite new thing in the shop? Millie’s Tea Towels, embroidered by hand by my mom Millie, under our new Linens & Textiles category.