On the Rocks

moving the press into the ice house

"While many Minnesotans were watching the Green Bay Packers win the NFL championship Sunday, members of the Ampersand Club made a different kind of history by hand-printing a book in an ice-fishing house on White Bear Lake.

"The bone-chilling project was a first for the 67-year-old club, which includes bookbinders, printers, graphic designers, booksellers, librarians, conservators and book collectors.

"'We're sure this is the first time a book has been printed on the ice in the United States, and probably the first time in the Western Hemisphere,' said Rob Rulon-Miller, St. Paul antiquarian bookseller, who says the custom dates to 17th century London." - St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN): January 13, 1997; Metro 1B

The untitled and anonymously-compiled word-list that appears in the book was discovered in a small notebook in the library of M.F.K. Fisher. To the first leaf of the manuscript, in Fisher's hand, was attached the following note:

  • "Definitions"
  • (alcoholic)
  • by whom?
  • why?
  • found in old binder

The manuscript consists of 15 pages on graph paper, in pencil, and in a shaky, juvenile hand; but that it was compiled by an adult seems beyond question. Spelling and punctuation are preserved.