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Harbor Press Ephemera Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MA.00282

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of a wide variety of printed ephemera produced by the Harbor Press, a commercial printing and design firm in New York City from 1925 to 1942. It includes broadsides, invitations, announcements, cards, brochures, programs, menus, bookplates, keepsakes, memorial tributes, letterheads, certificates, advertisements, etc., which the Press produced for its mostly New York City clientele, and sometimes for itself. The Press's commercial clients included clubs, publishers, galleries, museums, businesses, churches, colleges and universities, and booksellers; it also did much work for private individuals. Among those individuals, there are two with whom the Harbor Press was especially closely associated: Bella C. Landauer, a collector of ephemera, sheet music, and manufacturing trade cards who also became a self-taught historian of commercial art and printing, many of whose catalogs were printed by the Press and are present in the collection; and Louis How, a poet/lyricist whose works (such as Nursery Rhymes of New York City, Pan and The Other Don Juan) were privately printed in special illustrated editions by the Harbor Press, and are likewise in the collection.

Dates

  • 1924 - 2006
  • Majority of material found within 1925 - 1941

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Harbor Press Ephemera Collection for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection 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

The Harbor Press, a fine press printer and publisher in New York City that operated from 1925 to 1942, was founded by John Fass and Roland Wood (AC 1920), together with his wife Elizabeth Wyandt Wood. The two men had formerly worked together at the printing and publishing house of William Edwin Rudge of Mount Vernon, New York. While at Rudge, they had worked alongside renowned book designer Bruce Rogers, and it is clear that Rogers' modernist yet classical design sensibility had a significant influence on the consistently precise, elegant, and finely crafted ornamental style for which the Harbor Press became famous. As president of the firm, Roland Wood brought in the clients; Fass, as vice-president, was mainly responsible for the design and oversaw the shop; and Elizabeth Wood, the secretary, treasurer and office manager, oversaw day-to-day operations.

The Harbor Press was famous for its logo featuring a seahorse, which appeared in dozens of variations on many Harbor Press productions. It was first located on East 34th Street and it developed its business based largely on a New York City clientele - although since several of its clients were New York advertising firms, their work appeared nationwide. It also designed and printed works for New York's most influential bibliophiles, such as the members of the Grolier Club and the Typophiles. The majority of the Press's work, however, was not in book publishing but in a wide variety of commercial job printing.

Sometime after 1930, the Press moved to East 45th Street. Owing mainly to Fass's poor health the Harbor Press closed in 1939. Roland and Elizabeth Wood initially moved to the Marchbanks Press; a year later, the Harbor Press was revived as an imprint, apparently still in close association with the Marchbanks Press. In 1942, when Roland Wood re-entered the military (he had also served in World War I), Marchbanks took over the Harbor Press completely.

Roland Wood returned to his first love, the theater, and went on to have a successful career in acting, on Broadway and later in live television theater. Meanwhile, Fass (his health recovered) continued working as a book designer for leading American publishers as well as a graphic designer specializing in typography for advertising.

New York City Locations of the Harbor Press:

The Harbor Press changed locations several times over the course of its existence. Based on evidence in the ephemera, correspondence and other sources, the following locations have been documented:

  1. late 1925 - no later than June 1928: 158 East 34th St., between Lexington and Third
  2. no later than June 1928 - late 1930: 142 East 32nd St., between Lexington and Third
  3. late 1930 - January 1938: 305 East 45th St., between Second and First
  4. January 1938 - May 1942: 114 East 13th St., between Fourth and Third (just off Union Square) [Printing being done by Marchbanks Press. Correspondence during this period has been seen on both Marchbanks and Harbor letterheads.]

Extent

3.75 Linear feet (5 archive boxes, 2 half archive boxes, 2 object storage boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Printed ephemera produced by the Harbor Press, a commercial printing and design firm in New York City from 1925 to 1942. The collection includes broadsides, invitations, announcements, cards, brochures, programs, menus, bookplates, keepsakes, memorial tributes, letterheads, certificates, advertisements, etc., produced for the Press's mostly New York City clientele, and sometimes for itself.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into six series:

  1. Series 1: Harbor Press History
  2. Series 2: Ephemera - by Format
  3. Series 3: Ephemera - by Subject or Client Group
  4. Series 4: Ephemera Printed for the Harbor Press Itself
  5. Series 5: Oversize Material
  6. Series 6: Objects

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Roland Wood (AC 1920).

Processing Information

Material was organized and listed by John Lancaster, circa 2006; additional processing was done in 2014 by Peter A. Nelson.

Creator

Author
Peter A. Nelson
Date
2014
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299