The University of Minnesota Libraries recently acquired the remaining archive of the Whittington Press, an internationally acclaimed letterpress printer located in Gloucestershire, England. These materials complement and complete a 1984 donation by Gov. Elmer L. Andersen of Whittington material to the University.
According to Andersen, Whittington was “the outstanding press in the world” and he urged the University to expand its collecting. The Libraries successfully followed his advice and is now the only repository in North America to hold every single item produced by the Whittington Press.
The Whittington archive provides a unique insight into private press activity through the eyes of perhaps the most influential printer over the past half century.
The records include:
- Everything related to production of a dominant journal in typography and the history of printing, Matrix.
- All correspondence files for each book produced by the press from its founding in 1971.
- General files on artists, printing machinery, type founders, and correspondence with the principle printers, artists, librarians, illustrators, and subscribers associated with fine press printing in the Western world.
Taken together, these materials document a unique microcosm of fine printing over the past century.
The latest installment of the Whittington archive should be available to researchers later in 2015. Matrix and other volumes from the Whittington collection have been cataloged and are available for use.
Matrix has covered a range of topics in printing history including substantial articles on typefaces, typesetting, and founding; papermaking, fine papers, and decorated papers from around the world; wood-engraving and other illustration processes; book design; and major British printers and publishers. Numerous articles have included specimens of type, paper, and illustrations which have complemented and enhanced the texts.
In a 2009 award from the American Printing History Association for Matrix, the committee wrote: “Matrix has made distinguished contributions to the study, recording, preservation, and dissemination of printing history, and has done so utilizing a remarkable combination of authoritative scholarship and fine printing.”