Boston: The Society of Printers and The Boston Public Library, 2006,
First Edition. octavo, black cloth. 268pp. The Society of Printers and The Boston Public Library, Item #15991
This beautifully produced volume celebrates the centennial of Boston's Society of Printers, the oldest honorary society of its kind in America. Founded in 1905 by such luminaries as Daniel Berkeley Updike, Bruce Rogers, Henry Lewis Johnson, Carl Purington Rollins, and William Dana Orcutt, the Society's dedicated membership has over the years included the likes of William A. Dwiggins (who in 1922 actually coined the term "graphic design"), Rudolph Ruzicka, John Howard Benson, Ray Nash, Roderick Stinehour, Dorothy Abbe, Hermann Zapf, Philip Hofer, Leonard Baskin, and Matthew Carter.
The book's ten original essays cover unusually broad ground for such a publication, not only delving into the Society's history and Boston's, but also into more philosophical terrain, examining questions such as the definition of printing, itself, the political and sociological worlds of some of some prominent members, and the grand-scale game of "musical chairs" played by those who have called themselves "printers" over the past hundred years. An essay on type and lettering design among the SP membership and its circle is especially rich, comprising interviews with leading practitioners and including information on these crafts that cannot be found elsewhere. A review of a century of meeting announcements is a microcosmic history of American graphic design and printing techniques in the 20th century. Also examined are the habits of the great book collectors among the Society's members, and the distinguished group who have continued in the realm of handmade books and fine letterpress printing. The authors are all noted scholars and practitioners: Lance Hidy, Jean Evans, Eleanor M. Garvey, James E. Mooney, Barry Moser, Katherine McCanless Ruffin, Darrell Hyder, Al Gowan, Victor Curran, and Scott-Martin Kosofsky. The designer of the book is the renowned Roderick Stinehour, who contributes a colophon that is a fine essay in its own right. Very fine.