Ronald Gordon (AC 1965) Oliphant Press Materials
Scope and Contents
The collection consists chiefly of selected commercial job files containing correspondence, sketches and intermediate designs, invoices, finished press specimens, etc., related to the commercial work of the Oliphant Press, a New York City printing and graphic design firm founded by Ronald Gordon (AC 1965) in 1966. Clients include a wide variety of mostly New York City-based cultural and educational institutions, but also largely featuring Amherst College, for which the Press produced a variety of printed materials for its Library, the Friends of the Library, and administration. Jobs included broadsides, booklets, keepsakes, bookplates, bookmarks, holiday cards, invitations, and stationery, as well as glossy softcover editions produced for museums such as the Frick Collection. Included here also are printed ephemera produced by and for the Press itself, as well as Ron Gordon's personal family holiday greeting cards and invitations. All have been selected from the commercial files of the Oliphant Press and donated for this collection as samplings of the Press's work. (A nearly comprehensive collection of the Press's publications is held in the Amherst College Library.)
- Gordon, Ronald, 1943- (AC 1965) (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
There is no restriction on access to the Ronald Gordon (AC 1965) Oliphant Press Materials for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.
Conditions Governing Use
Requests for permission to publish material from the Ronald Gordon (AC 1965) Oliphant Press Materials should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.
Biographical / Historical
Ronald M. Gordon (AC 1965), a leading printer and typographic designer and founder of the Oliphant Press in New York City, was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1943. While a student at Amherst College, he learned the craft of letterpress printing from Leonard Baskin and Harold McGrath at Gehenna Press in Northampton, Massachusetts. After graduating from Amherst, Gordon worked with New York printer Joseph Blumenthal at the Spiral Press. He established the Oliphant Press as a private press in New York City in the fall of 1966, producing, at first, mostly limited runs of small chapbooks of poetry by Gordon's friends. In 1969, he married Stephanie Lewis, who also became a co-proprietor. In 1970, the enterprise expanded to become a commercial printer and relocated to Six Varick Street. Various cultural institutions (such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Grolier Club), small publishers, booksellers, and private individuals began to make use of its services.
The Press moved to a new location on Sixth Avenue in 1972. Ron Gordon and his work at the Press were the subject of an exhibition at the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1974. In book publishing, however, Gordon eventually got out of the business of publishing under the Oliphant Press imprint in favor of providing high-quality design and print work (both letterpress and offset) for customers who assumed their own production and marketing costs. Perhaps most notably, Gordon designed half of the titles produced by William Targ under the famous Targ Editions imprint. The Oliphant Press has printed first editions of works by such writers as Samuel Beckett, Ray Bradbury and John Updike, and books illustrated by artists such as Leonard Baskin, Edward Gorey, and Maurice Sendak.
The Press again changed addresses in New York City in 1976, returning downtown (145 Hudson Street), where design, typesetting, printing and binding could all be done at the same location. From 2001 to 2007, Oliphant Press operated in a 19th-century era building at 443 Greenwich Street. When that building was sold, he moved the Press back to Varick Street.
Ron Gordon has served on the Board of Advisors of the Wells College Book Arts Center and has taught graphic design there. In 2007 the Amherst College Library mounted an exhibit of his work. An appreciation of his work appears in Reflections of Two Craftsmen: Sam Ellenport & Ron Gordon (Club of Odd Volumes, 2012).
The Amherst College Library holds a nearly comprehensive collection of the productions of the Oliphant Press.
3 Linear feet (3 records storage boxes)
Language of Materials
Chiefly selected job files related to the commercial work of the Oliphant Press, a New York City printing and graphic design firm founded by Ronald Gordon (AC 1965) in 1966, containing corres-pondence, sketches and intermediate designs, invoices, finished press specimens, etc. Clients include a wide variety of mostly New York City-based cultural and educational institutions, but also largely featuring Amherst College. Jobs included broad¬sides, book-lets, keepsakes, bookplates, bookmarks, holiday cards, invita¬tions, and stationery, as well as glossy softcover editions. Also, printed ephemera produced by and for the Press itself, as well as Ron Gordon's personal family holiday greeting cards and invitations.
This collection is organized into four series:
- Series 1: Oliphant Press Job Files - Chronological, 1965-2008
- Series 2: Oliphant Press Job Files - Alphabetical, circa 1970-2009
- Series 3: Miscellaneous Oliphant Press Printed Ephemera, circa 1970-2009
- Series 4: About Oliphant Press: Announcements, Print Specimens, Personal, circa 1970-2009
Processed in 2014 by Peter Nelson, Archivist.
- Peter A. Nelson
- Language of description
- Script of description