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William Edwin Rudge Papers

 Collection
Identifier: mss-410

Scope and Contents

The collection contains mainly correspondence and estimates from the Elm Tree Press and Lane Press. The collection summarizes Rudge’s work in the fine printing business and gives particular insights into business partnerships with Robert L. Dothard (circa 1929-1980), a typographer and book designer, and Benjamin (Ben) Lane (1897-1987), president and general manager of The Lane Press from 1928 until 1961. Ben Lane’s work was known at the time for its high standards of printing. The documents provide an outlook of the trade’s changing pace. A series of letters, for example, offers a technical description of the purchase of new printing equipment and the impact that this will have in the quality and speed of his service. The letters also mention to a handful of customers that Mr. Rudge visits New York City very frequently.

While the collection does not hold any issues of Print magazine, it contains valuable information about its previous version, The Print Collector’s Quarterly (founded in 1940), in the form of subscription blanks and, for Print, information about its scope, circulation, advertising rates, address, and publication schedule. In these documents, Print is presented as "periodical relating to every phase of books, printing and printmaking. […] In it you actually see demonstrated the work of a variety of designers and typographers, different techniques of illustration and reproduction, many printing methods, papers and binding."

Rudge’s customers included Yale University Press, Columbia University, Vassar College, and Barnard College, Columbia University, University of Minnesota, New York University, The New York Public Library, the American Society of the French Legion of Honor, Inc. of New York, the Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, the Archaeological Institute of America, the United Nations, the State of Vermont, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Bennington Historical Museum and Art Gallery. The collection also houses correspondence with reputed journals, like the Hudson Review and the Russian Review and popular magazines like McCall’s Magazine.

The Lane Press correspondence provides significant information about the business partnership between Rudge and Lane. Rudge's work as agent demonstrates his networking with previous Elm Tree Press customers to promote the Lane Press outside of Vermont.

Some financial information regarding the Elm Tree Press is available in the form of price lists, paper samples, binding samples, typefaces, and the work output including printed guides or catalogues to art exhibits (ex. a Grandma Moses Exhibit at Galerie St. Étienne in New York).

The collection may interest researchers of the history of fine books printing and publishing in Vermont and the development of the printing business during the 20th century. It may also be useful for understanding the history of graphic arts and typography.

The collection is arranged chronologically.

Dates

  • 1937-1953

Creator

Access

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

William Edwin Rudge (1908-1989) was the son of a fine printer, also called William Rudge, whose Printing House was located in Mount Vernon, New York at the beginning of the 20th Century. According to what seems to be a press release in this collection (undated, but maybe dating back to 1942), the "Rudge Printing House" "received international recognition in the 1920’s for its inflexible standards of fine printing." William E. Rudge III worked in his father’s Printing House, where he received his early training. In the early 1930s, he and his brother Fred Rudge established a print shop in New York City called "William E. Rudge’s Sons, Inc." which operated until 1945. In 1940, Mr. Rudge joined Yale University Press and became its director. While in New Haven, he founded the journal Print Collector’s Quarterly (PCQ) with Robert L. Dothard, a Vermont typographer from Brattleboro. Dothard was a key business partner of Rudge’s throughout the publishing activities documented in this collection.

In 1942, William E. Rudge III bought the Elm Tree Press (established since 1907) from Edward C. Dana and settled his business in Woodstock, Vermont. The Print Collector’s Quarterly headquarters moved with him to Vermont while it kept a branch office in New York. The business aimed to "treat printing not only as if it were a worthy trade, but also as if it were a fine art." In 1946, Robert L. Dothard and Frank H. Teagle joined Rudge in Woodstock and the fine printing work continued. In 1950 the Elm Tree Press filed for bankruptcy.

From the correspondence present in this collection, one can reconstruct, at least partially, Rudge’s next steps. By the end of 1951, PCQ had changed its title to Print magazine and was being printed by the Lane Press in Burlington, Vermont. In 1953, Benjamin Lane took over the Lane Press from his father Frank L. Lane. At this time, Rudge worked in New York City as an agent for the Lane Press.

William Edwin Rudge III married Abigail Hazen in 1934. They had a daughter, Joanna Rudge, and a son, William Rudge.

Extent

1.25 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Abstract

This collection consists of business correspondence with clients, paper samples, printing examples, and estimates from the companies Elm Tree Press and Lane Press.

Location

Library Research Annex; contact uvmsc@uvm.edu for access.

Related Materials

The Elm Tree Press Records, also held at University of Vermont (UVM) Special Collections, reflect the Rudge-Dothard-Teagle period of operation.

The William Edwin Rudge Collection, held by Special Collections at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), contains “business records and personal papers of William E. Rudge, his family, his printing firm, and associates.” Of particular relevance is the material covering “The Elm Tree” period of the publishing activity of William Edwin Rudge III. Note that in the UCSB finding aid, the family members are abbreviated thus: the William Edwin Rudge at the center of the UVM collection is expressed as WERIII while his father, not represented in the UVM collection, is abbreviated to WERII.

Creator

Title
Guide to the William Edwin Rudge Papers
Status
Completed
Date
2018 May
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)