John Fass' Collection of Rockwell Kent Ephemera:
Above: Candide: The first book with the Random House imprint
The 1928 Candide was a landmark debut for Random House. This Rockwell Kent book was "the most important illustrated book to have been made in America," according to Stanley Morison, the renowned British designer and printing historian.
The following year, 1929, John Fass printed the book Elmer Adler, illustrated by Rockwell Kent, in an edition of 25 copies. The book was a keepsake from an April 1929 dinner for Elmer Adler hosted by the founders of Random House, Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. John undoubtedly attended that dinner, and subsequently received personalized invitations to many events at Elmer Adler's Pynson Printers gallery.
Meanwhile John Fass was working on the design and printing of the first book which Random House published for him, the 1929 Three Discourses by Mason L. Weems.
Above: Detail of the prospectus for Random House's 1928 Candide, illustrated by Rockwell Kent
An Invitation to Cocktail Civil Disobedience with Rockwell Kent:
Above: John Fass' 1930 invitation to a party with Rockwell Kent and the guys at Random House
Cocktails were illegal in 1930 New York, thanks to prohibition. But Bennett Cerf and the guys at Random House paid prohibition no mind, when they sent John Fass this invitation to a "so-called tea." The zinc-lithograph illustration by Rockwell Kent features a bald cocktail enthusiast flat on his back ...someone who looks suspiciously like the chronically-bald Rockwell Kent, who was guest of honor at this soiree.
Meanwhile, in the early 1930s, John Fass was receiving personalized invitations to real tea parties from publisher Elmer Adler, who briefly had been a business partner of the the guys at Random House. Elmer Adler was publishing deluxe books at his Pynson Press in Manhattan. Adler exhibited his fine-press creations during his weekly teas, to which he invited a who's who of prominent patrons, artists, printers, writers, and publishers. Including John Fass.
Above: Rockwell Kent's illustrations for the 1928 American Institute of Graphic Arts annual exhibition
In 1928 Random House published Rockwell Kent's Candide, which was the company's first book printed with Random House's own imprint. That same year Kent's illustrations were used for the catalog of the book-illustration exhibit at the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
John Fass had been operating his Harbor Press in Manhattan for three years, by this date. He undoubtedly took time off to see the exhibit.
Random House published Beowulf in 1932, with Rockwell Kent illustrations. Elmer Adler, proprietor of Pynson Printers, was briefly a business partner at Random House, so he exhibited lithographs from the book at his Manhattan gallery.
Throughout this era, John Fass also received personalized invitations to Adler's "teas" at Pynson Printers, where Adler exhibited the fine-press books from the Pynson press.