Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Overbrook Press Records, 1929-1978, bulk 1935-1961

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) English .
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in two series: Series I: Correspondence, 1933-1978 Subseries I.1: Alphabetical Correspondence, 1934-1976 Subseries I.2: Author-Title Files, 1933-1969 Subseries I.3: General Correspondence, 1934-1978 Series II: General, 1929-1977.

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

    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.

  • Series II: General

    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.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. 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

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 08/--/89.

Papers processed Carolyn Smith 2008.

Finding aid written Carolyn Smith October 2010.

Revision Description

2010-11-10 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

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.

Subject

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

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.