Commercial Design Work by John Fass
1930s: John goes Medieval for Britain's Audit Ale
Many beer enthusiasts declare Trinity Audit Ale is England's best ale. The brew traditionally was brewed by Cambridge University's Trinity College, for the annual audit when tenants of the college's estates came to the university to pay rent.
In 1936 a group of British expats in New York City formed the Trinity Audit Ale Association, LTD. They imported Audit Ale in cases, and sold the brew to Oxford and Cambridge men.
John set the text of these labels in Cloister Black typeface and in Stationers Script, with a border of Monotype ornaments.
Above: Left: Pencil sketch on tissue. Right: Proof sheet
New York's Whitehead and Alliger paper company was cofounded by Lewis A. Alliger, a colleague of John Fass. Both men were members of the Grolier Club, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and the Typophiles.
In 1935 John Fass won an AIGA 50-books award for designing, printing, and publishing Dante's Hell, which he printed on Arak paper. That same year John used these Erasmus Initials for the title page of Herman Melville's Typee, which also won an AIGA award.
Arak and Erasmus Initials were good to John Fass.
1935: John's Advertising Client Shows off John's Advertising Design:
In the 1920s and 1930s John Fass created advertising design for the Worthy Paper Company of Massachusetts. The company was duly impressed with John's design work, so in 1932 the firm published a collection of 12 advertisements John had created for Worthy Papers.
John had become a public face for these paper companies, in the same manner that graphic desinger W. A. Dwiggins had been the public face for Strathmore and Warren paper companies.
In 1929 John Fass printed a deluxe book on Worthy paper for the Derrydale Press: the large-paper edition Feathered Game from a Sporting Journal. He printed this impressive book in an edition of 50, signed by the artist and author.
The next year John used Worthy paper for printing the first publication of the Huntington Press: A Remedy for Disappearing Game Fishes, written by Herbert Hoover, the future U. S. president. And three years later John printed Edan St. Vincent Millay's Wine from these Grapes on Worthy Paper.
Above: Pencil sketch on tissue by John Fass for Worthy Paper Company
Above: Circa 1928 flyer by John Fass for his Harbor Press
Samples of John Fass commercial printing were frequently selected by the American Institute for Graphic Arts for display in the institute's annual Printing for Commerce exhibition at New York's Art Center.
Paul Bennett explained why the AIGA frequently exhibited John's printing and design work. In Bennett's 1931 column "Books and Bookmakers" Bennett wrote, "Mr. Fass has a distinctive and distinguished touch which he gives to his work and lifts it apart from the ordinary and the commonplace."
"Where did he get it? That's rather hard to answer, but I suspect it's been by hard work, from his varied experience, by never being satisfied, and by always striving for that elusive and indefinable thing called style or taste."
John Fass Prints his Printers' Association Newsletter:
The International Association of Printing House Craftsmen is a professional association of printers and graphic artists. The publication of the New York chapter of this organization was the Craftsmen's News.
In the 1930s John Fass designed and printed this publication for his fellow printers and graphic artists, at his Harbor Press. This responsibility was a stamp of approval from John's colleagues and competitors in the Big Apple.
Above: John's copy of a 1926 Grolier Club catalog
John Fass was a member of New York's Grolier Club, a prestigious association of bibliophiles, publishers, and other connoisseurs of the printed page. John designed and printed numerous projects for the Grolier Club, at his Harbor Press.
John also designed and printed the catalog of the 1937 exhibition of American sporting books. In 1962 the Grolier Club hosted an exhibit of books from John's Hammer Creek Press. The event was organized by Herman Cohen and NBC television celebrity Ben Grauer.
John's 1920s Advertisements for his Harbor Press:
John began his Harbor Press in 1925. His business location was at this 34th Street address from 1925 until 1927, until he moved the business to 142 East 32nd Street.
Today that address of John's first print shop on 34th Street is the eleven-story home of the New York University Langone Medical Center. There are no bulls in sight.