1929: John Fass in Europe
John Fass and his Harbor Press were on a roll, by 1929. By now he had won three AIGA book-design awards, including one for Robert Frost's A Way Out, which his press published the previous year. And the guys at Random House were sending prestigious projects his way, for design and printing.
So John took an eleven-week vacation to Europe, to visit the printing and typography capitals of the Old World. He sought out Europe's eminent printers and typographers whose work he had admired for years. And in September he posed for a portrait at the Eiffel Tower.
John in Germany:
In Germany John visited the leading printers and bibliophiles. He called on Dr. Wiegand at the Bremer Press, Dr. Wolff at the Stempel type foundry and the Klingspor brothers.
Many of John's Moravian and Mennonite relatives in Lancaster County spoke the Pennsylvania German dialect, so perhaps John was able to speak both German and English with his Germanic hosts.
Various German cities hosted a Bibliophilen Gesellschaft (Bibliophile Society) including Bremen, Weimar, Frankfurt, Köln, etc. Although John was in Frankfurt too late to attend the March Bibliophilen Gesellschaft dinner at Frankfurt, he collected the announcement and saved it for his archive.
John in England:
Above: Autograph letters signed by Stanley Morison to John Fass
Stanley Morison and George A. Jones were two of the premiere printers and typographers in Britain, so John visited them both.
Morison was typographic consultant for the Monotype Corporation. He also was a founder of the Fleuron Society, a British typography association, and edited its journal The Fleuron.
John kept in contact with these printers after his return to the U. S., and sent them Christmas keepsakes and other samples of his work.
John's 1929 Photo Album of His European Tour:
The Album's First 3 Pages: London's Kelmscott Press and William Morris House:
(The Mecca of the Fine-Press Movement)
Left: Photo by John Fass
Right: Circa 1929 photo of same location, showing Wilfred Merton, Sir Emery Walker, and Bruce Rogers (left to right). Anonymous photographer. Photo collected by John Fass
The first three pages of John's 1929 photo album showcase six photographs he took in London at the Mecca of Fine-Press Printing: William Morris' home and the first home of the Kelmscott Press.
The first home of the Kelmscott Press was at 16 Upper Mall, from January until June of 1891. Morris then began leasing 14 Upper Mall (Sussex Cottage) which was the press' primary address until it closed.
In 1895 Morris took possession of another house on this street at 21 Upper Mall (Sutherland Cottage) where he housed the Albion press which he used to print the Kelmscott Chaucer. Meanwhile, Morris was living at Kelmscott House, at 26 Upper Mall. The Doves Press was started at 15 Upper Mall, opposite the Kelmscott Press building, by T. J. Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker.
When John was in London in 1929, Bruce Rogers was also there working on the Odyssey and the Oxford Lectern Bible, his two greatest achievements. The Odyssey was co-produced by business partners Sir Emery Walker and Wilfred Merton whose office was at 16 Upper Mall, the former home of the Kelmscott Press.
Above: Tree in Swiss landscape. Photo by John Fass
Above: German town scenes