Printing in Early Maryland
William Nuthead immigrated to Virginia and originally intended to set up his printing establishment in Gloucester. The Governor prohibited him from printing in that colony so he moved his press to St. Mary’s City in 1684 or 1685 where he printed for the next decade. He was one of the few skilled craft specialists to ply their trade in Maryland since the focus of the economy was on the production and export of tobacco.
Archaeologists believe they have identified the location where the Nuthead press operated in St. Mary’s City. The unusual discovery of several dozen pieces of lead type just outside of the historical town center was the key to solving the mystery.
On the right is the face of the letter “M” recovered in archaeological excavations in St. Mary’s City. Note that the left top corner lacks a serif. Serifs, the small horizontal lines at the ends of characters are called serifs. Various fonts or typefaces use serifs in different ways.
Below, right, you will see the same letter from a 1685 document printed by William Nuthead in St. Mary’s City. The “M” is reversed but clearly matches the archaeological example. It is from an unusual font style so that the archaeological specimen can be directly linked to Nuthead’s press.