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Overbrook Press records

 Collection
Call Number: GEN MSS 961

Scope and Contents

The Overbrook Press Records contain correspondence, office files, and production files documenting the operations and publications of the press. The records also include a small group of Frank Altschul's personal papers, a collection of printed material, mostly ephemera, published by peer presses, professional and private associations and clubs, and a group of type specimens from American and European typefounders. The Production Files form the most significant part of the records, and contain original and carbon typescripts, manuscripts, printed sources or copies of source text, designs and layout pages, dummies, proofs, and galleys; some files hold correspondence, published reviews, and final copies of the publications as well as original artwork, silkscreen stencils, bookbinding stamps, and a collection of paper samples. Also present are the photoengravings used for printing illustrations and decorations in press publications. The latest item in the collection is an Overbrook Press tribute broadside which was printed by Altschul's nephew Charles Altschul at Yale University in 1979.

Dates

  • 1918 - 1979
  • Majority of material found within 1934 - 1969

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Overbrook Press Records is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Frank Altschul (Yale 1908) to the Yale University Library Arts of the Book Collection, 1977-1982. Transferred from Arts of the Book Collection to Beinecke Library, 2003-2015. Gift of Charles Altschul, 2015. 2021 February 9 accession received at Yale University Art Gallery, gift of Kathryn Graham, date unknown, and transferred to Beinecke Library.

Arrangement

Organized into five series: I. Correspondence and Office Files, 1926-1979. II. Frank Altschul Personal Papers, 1918-1979. III. Production Files, 1934-1969. IV. Printed Material. V. Photoengravings and Printing Blocks.

Associated Materials

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University Library holds the remainder of the Overbrook Press Records (MS 0959) as well as the Frank Altschul Papers (MS 0022).

Extent

51.96 Linear Feet (107 boxes + 6 broadside folders)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

https://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.overbrook

Abstract

The Overbrook Press Records contain correspondence, office files, and production files documenting the operations and publications of the Overbrook Press. The records also hold small group of Frank Altschul's personal papers, a collection of printed material, mostly ephemera, published by peer presses, professional and private associations and clubs, and a group of type specimens from American and European typefounders. The Production Files form the most significant part of the records, and contain original and carbon typescripts, manuscripts, printed sources or copies of source text, designs and layout pages, dummies, proofs, and galleys; some files hold correspondence, published reviews, and final copies of the publications as well as original artwork, silkscreen stencils, bookbinding stamps, and a collection of paper samples. Correspondents include various authors and illustrators including T. M. Cleland, W. A. Dwiggins, William Einstein, Jean Hugo, Bruce Rogers, and Rudolph Ruzicka. Also present are the photoengravings used for printing illustrations and decorations in press publications. The latest item in the collection is an Overbrook Press tribute broadside which was printed by Altschul's nephew Charles Altschul at Yale University in 1979.

Overbrook Press (1934-1969)

Overbrook Press was established in 1934 by financier and philanthropist Frank Altschul in a remodeled pigpen on his estate Overbrook Farm, at 356 Riverbank Road in Stamford, Connecticut. Interested in the craft of printing since childhood, Altschul hired Margaret B. Evans as resident designer and compositor; she remained with the press until 1944 and was succeeded by John Lyons. John McNamara served as pressman from 1934 to 1954, followed by Frederick Warns. Between 1934 and 1969, when it issued its last publications, Overbrook Press produced more than 150 limited edition books, pamphlets, and broadsides, plus a wide variety of ephemera, for people, organizations, and events of interest to Altschul, his family, and friends. The press's books regularly won awards for their design and production quality; the texts favored politics, foreign relations, chess, printing, graphic arts, and literature as illustrated by artists including T. M. Cleland, W. A. Dwiggins, William Einstein, Jean Hugo, and Rudolph Ruzicka.

A chronology of the key activities and publications of the Overbrook Press was compiled at the Arts of the Book Collection in 1988; a copy is located in Box 1.

Frank Altschul (1887-1981)

Frank Altschul was born in San Francisco on April 21, 1887, to Charles and Camilla Mandlebaum Altschul; Charles Altschul, an investment banker with the firm Lazard Frères & Company, relocated the family to New York in 1901. Frank Altschul attended Yale University, graduating in 1908, after which he traveled in Europe for two years before returning to New York to start a career in finance with Lazard Frères. He served in the Army in France during World War I, and was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government. Altschul became a senior partner at Lazard Frères in 1943, and five years later chairman of the board of the General American Investors Corporation. He served on the governing committee of the New York Stock Exchange, was a director of the English-Speaking Union, an officer of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the National Planning Association, and was involved with the Council of Foreign Relations for almost forty years. He received honorary degrees from Yale University in 1967 and Columbia University in 1971.

In 1913 Altschul married Helen Lehman Goodhart (1887-1985), a 1907 graduate of Barnard College and a niece of the prominent New York politician Herbert H. Lehman. The Altschuls raised their children Charles, Margaret, Edith, and Arthur at their homes in New York City and at Overbrook Farm, an estate along the Mianus River in Stamford, Connecticut. Edith Altschul (1917-2003) married Robert Claverhouse Graham (1913-1994, Yale 1936), a partner in the James Graham Gallery in New York.

In addition to producing his own, Altschul collected exemplars of fine printing from America and Europe, in particular France. He also formed a library of works related to the typographic arts, including eighteenth- and nineteenth-century printers manuals, type specimens, and bibliographies. His book collections were transferred to Yale University following his death in Stamford on May 29, 1981, where they were divided between the Beinecke Library and the Arts of the Book Collection at Sterling Memorial Library. The equipment from the Overbrook Press was given to Yale University in 1977 by Altschul, and distributed to the Bibliographical Press at Sterling Memorial Library, press rooms in the university's colleges, and other departments on campus.

Language(s)

In English and French.

Processing Information

The collection received preliminary processing in 1988. Further organization, rehousing, and description was carried out in 2013.

Former call numbers: Uncat MSS 470, Uncat MSS 864, Uncat MSS 852, Uncat MSS 1036, Uncat MS Vault File.

In 2015 the Overbrook Press collection of photoengravings used for printing illustrations and decorations in press publications were transferred into the collection from the Yale University Library's Bibliographical Press.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Title
Guide to the Overbrook Press Records
Author
by Andrea Benefiel and Sandra Markham
Date
2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977

Location

121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.