1920s and 30s: John Fass Publishes Books by Louis How
(The Brilliantly-Bohemian, Accidentally-Wealthy Writer from St. Louis)
John Fass' Harbor Press printed and sometimes published an impressive roster of world-class writers in the 1920s and 30s: Robert Frost, William Faulkner, Willa Cather, Edna St. Vincent Milay, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Herman Melville, Oscar Wilde, Aldous Huxley, and others. (To name-drop a few.)
But John Fass published Louis How most of all. In the 1920s and 30s John won four AIGA book awards for books he designed, printed, and published for Louis How. John was good for Louis, and Louis was good for John. It was a symbiotic relationship.
Louis How and his brother James both turned their backs on the conventional lifestyles of their privileged birth, despite the wealth they inherited. James became the "Millionaire Hobo" and was the country's leading advocate for the homeless, while living in rooming houses and on the road.
Louis How did not marry. He "became an artist and took to the gay bohemian life." (On Hobos and Homelessness, University of Chicago Press.)
John Fass Does a Fifth Book for Louis How:
Louis How was an heir in one of St. Louis' wealthiest families. He graduated from Harvard in 1895, where he studied languages and literature. In addition to writing books of poetry, he was a brilliant translator. He translated literary works into English from Italian, French, and Spanish, including writings by Dante, Montaigne, Etienne de la Boetie, Racine, Pío Baroja.
In addition to publishing the four books by Louis How that won AIGA awards, John's Harbor Press also designed, printed, and published How's 1936 book The Years Relent.
John Fass does a Sixth Book for Louis How:
John printed this book on Capuleti paper, imported from Italy. The book is illustrated by Harry Steel Savage, who also illustrated The Arabian Nights for Bennett Cerf this same year.
Printed in a Limited Edition of 6 Copies:
John Fass published this Louis How poem in a truly-limited edition. Louis wrote the poem in both Italian and English. The colophon states, "Designed by John S. Fass. Six copies printed..." It was circa 1926.
On February 13, 1926, this same poem was published in The Italian Mail with another poem by Louis How, "The Unknown Soldier's Grave."
The Temple of Fortuna Virilis (Manly Fortune) is the ancient Temple of Portunus in Rome.
1928: Two Rare Pamphlets of Louis How Poetry:
Above: Two 1928 poetry pamphlets
John Fass designed and printed two more poetry pamphlets for Louis How in 1928: Four Minute Love Songs, and Pan Three Sonnets.
Today the University of Central Connecticut has one of the best collections of the works of Louis How, including copies of these rare titles. The collection was assembled by Karl M. Vogel.
Meanwhile, John Fass does a Poetry Broadside on Tissue Paper:
Above: Details of the tissue-paper broadside circa 1930
Robert Herrick was a 17th-century English poet who caught John Fass' fancy with this seahorse-themed poem.
The seahorse was the pressmark of the Harbor Press, so Neptune's horses were excellent subjects for a tissue-paper broadside.