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   Overbrook Press Records, 1929-1978 [Bulk: 1935-1961]

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Overbrook Press Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

This collection documents the operation of Overbrook Press, a private American press once located in Stamford, Connecticut, from its founding by Frank Altschul in 1934 until it ceased operation in 1969.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#0959
Bib ID:4079185 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Overbrook Press.
Title:Overbrook Press Records, 1929-1978 [Bulk: 1935-1961]
Physical description:6.3 linear feet ( 15 document boxes)
Language(s): Material is in English.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into two series:

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Description

Scope and Content

This collection contains materials relating to approximately 150 of the books, pamphlets, and broadsides printed by the Overbrook Press from its founding in 1934 until its last year of activity, 1969. It also includes a small amount of earlier records relating to the Helealt Corporation, the fiscal parent of Overbrook Press. Approximately two-thirds of the collection consists of business correspondence between Altschul, authors, and agents. The collection also contains a great deal of correspondence between Frank Altschul and noted artists and book designers such as Valenti Angelo, W.A. Dwiggins, Jean Hugo, Rudoph Ruzicka, Daniel B. Updike, Thomas M. Cleland, and Elmer Adler. Correspondence on a particular book or pamphlet is sometimes accompanied by proofs, drafts, or an example of the final product. The collection also contains memoranda, manuscripts, and financial records. Particularly noteworthy are the files relating to the publication of Manon Lescaut (1958), Robert Louis Stevenson's Inland Voyage (1938), and Herbert Cahoon's 1963 Overbrook Press Bibliography .

Series I: Correspondence, 1933-1978

This series contains correspondence of three types; alphabetical correspondence arranged by surname, author-title files containing correspondence relating to specific works, and general chronological correspondence.

Subseries I.1: Alphabetical Correspondence, 1934-1976

This subseries contains letters to Altschul from artists, actors, politicians, and other individuals outside the publishing field. Most are brief letters of thanks in response to the complementary books Altschul often sent to notable figures. Files have been arranged alphabetically by correspondent name.

Subseries I.2: Author-Title Files, 1933-1969

Files in this subseries hold correspondence between Altschul and authors, editors, illustrators, and others regarding the design and publication of books, broadsides, and pamphlets. Many also contain drafts, proofs, or final copies of broadsides and pamphlets. In general, files are arranged alphabetically by author and contain correspondence related to the publishing of a single work, though in some cases they may cover several works by the same author. It is unclear whether this arrangement is original or was imposed at a later date.

Subseries I.3: General Correspondence, 1934-1978

This subseries is comprised of general correspondence arranged by year. It includes requests for books and pamphlets, correspondence with other presses, and the occasional letter of praise from an enthusiastic collector. In most cases, both the incoming mail and copies of Overbrook's responses are present.

Series II: General, 1929-1977

This small but varied series contains documents related to the operation of the press, including financial records, internal correspondence, and paper samples. It also holds copies of the Overbrook Bibliography and information on book exhibits.

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Using the Collection

Offsite

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Overbrook Press Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Material

Herbert H. Lehman Papers, 1858-1963 Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

>Frank Altschul Papers, 1884-1986, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Cataloged 08/--/89 Christina Hilton Fenn

Papers processed in 2008 by Carolyn Smith

Finding aid written in October, 2010 Carolyn Smith

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion November 10, 2010 Finding aid written in English.
    2010-11-10 File created.

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Adler, Elmer, 1884-1962.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Altschul, Frank, 1887-1981.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Angelo, Valenti, 1897-1982.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Artists.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Book collectors.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Book design.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cahoon, Herbert, 1918-2000.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Civic leaders--Connecticut--Stamford.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cleland, T. M. (Thomas Maitland), 1880-1964.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Evans, Margaret B.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Frankfurter, Felix, 1882-1965.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gunther, John, 1901-1970.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Helealt Corporation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hugo, Jean, 1894-1984.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Illustration of books.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Layout (printing).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Literature publishing.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Luce, Clare Boothe, 1903-1987.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Overbrook Press.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Philanthropists.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Presswork (printing).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Publishers and publishing--Connecticut--Stamford.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich), 1908-1979.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ruzicka, Rudolph, 1883-1978.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Scholarly publishing.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
TypographyPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Updike, Daniel Berkeley, 1860-1941.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

The Overbrook Press was founded in 1934 in Stamford, Connecticut, by Frank Altschul, an investment banker and civic leader with a lifelong interest in book arts and printing. Altschul initially pursued printing as a hobby, experimenting with a small press in his New York apartment. In 1934, he was approached by designer Margaret B. Evans, who had been working for Ashlar Press. Ashlar was closing, and Evans hoped Altschul would continue its work.

Altschul set up the press in converted outbuildings on his Stamford farm and hired Evans as designer and compositor and John MacNamara as pressman. The Overbrook Press went on to print an eclectic variety of books and pamphlets, as well as ephemera such as awards and certificates. Evens placed great emphasis on technical expertise and craftsmanship, and even smaller pieces - political pamphlets such as Towards a More Creative Policy and short books on chess problems - were handled with surprising care.

Altschul set up the press in converted outbuildings on his Stamford farm and hired Evans as designer and compositor and John MacNamara as pressman. The Overbrook Press went on to print an eclectic variety of books and pamphlets, as well as ephemera such as awards and certificates. Evens placed great emphasis on technical expertise and craftsmanship, and even smaller pieces - political pamphlets such as "Toward a More Creative Policy" and short books on chess problems - were handled with unusual care.

Overbrook volumes were also known for fine illustrations. In the 1930s, the Overbrook Press published an edition of Robert Louis Stevenson's travelogue An Inland Voyage , which featured illustrations by French artist Jean Hugo. Hugo was commissioned to follow Stevenson's path through Belgium and France and produce gouaches of scenes along the route. The press worked with many other artists, including Valenti Angelo, Anna Simons, and Bruce Rogers, but is most closely associated with T.M. Cleland, who illustrated a number of Overbrook volumes. His most ambitious project was an edition of Prevost's Manon Lescaut , for which he created elaborate silk-screened illustrations. The volume, which was published in 1958 after six years of work, is considered one of the highest quality private press books of the time.

The Overbrook Press operated for nearly thirty years, closing its doors in 1969.

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