The Ephrata Cloister in Lancaster County, PA
Photography by John Fass
John Fass had one foot in the past and one foot in the future, for he was both a medievalist and a modernist. His book arts celebrate pre-industrial workmanship, while his photography explores modern design and technology.
Lancaster County's Ephrata Cloister had much appeal to John Fass. This Pennsylvania German cloister, near his hometown of Lititz, had been a powerhouse of colonial printing and publishing, and produced masterworks of colonial American book arts.
In the 1740s the Ephrata Cloister printed the Martyrs' Mirror, which was the largest book printed in colonial North American, and was the most ambitious American printing project of that era. This cloister also produced illuminated manuscripts which are landmarks of American fraktur art.
John knew he was following in the footsteps of the Ephrata printers, and that those footsteps were big shoes to fill. The New York Public Library Digital Archive has additional photographs taken by John Fass of this cloister, including the print shop here.