Ann Simons, Ashlar Press, Bruce Rogers, Connecticut, Cromwell, Daniel Updike, decorative initials, Frank Altschul (1887-1981), George Lyman Kittredge, Harvard, Jean Hugo, John Macnamara, letterpress, Lucretia type, marbled boards, Margaret B. Evans, morocco, Overbrook Farm, Overbrook Press, poems, printing, Shakespeare, sonnet, Stamford, Thomas Maitland Cleland, Valenti Angelo
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
— William Shakespeare, Sonnet XVIII
The Poems of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Stamford, CT: Overbrook Press, 1939
PR2841 A2 K5 1939
Edited by George Lyman Kittredge, Gurney Professor of English Literature, Harvard University.
Overbrook Press was founded by investment banker, civic leader, and bibliophile Frank Altschul (1887-1981), who had pursued printing as a hobby since childhood. In 1934 he was approached by designer Margaret B. Evans, who had been working for Ashlar Press, which was closing. Altschul set up the Ashlar press in an abandoned outbuilding on his 450-acre estate, Overbrook Farms, in Stamford, Connecticut. He hired Evans as designer and compositor and John MacNamara as pressman. Overbrook Press printed an eclectic mix of books, pamphlets, broadsides and ephemera, emphasizing technical expertise and craftsmanship. The press engaged contemporary book designers and artists such as Daniel Updike, Jean Hugo, Bruce Rogers, Ann Simons, Valenti Angelo, and Thomas Maitland Cleland. Overbrook Press closed in 1969.
The Poems of Shakespeare is one of its most ambitious projects. It’s decorative initials were designed by Bruce Rogers. Text handset and letterpress printed in red and black with Lucretia type on handmade Cromwell grey paper. The press offered copies for sale, but most of them were given as gifts by Alschul. Copies for sale to the public were bound in three quarter morocco and slipcased, but more than a third of the edition was never bound, presumably to accommodate individual binding tastes.
University of Utah copy is bound in quarter brown morocco over marbled boards with gilt-lettered spine, issued uncut, in publisher’s slipcase. Edition of one hundred and fifty copies.
Shakespeare is coming! The First Folio arrives at the City Library in October.
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