March 7

Paul Bennett

“This book has been a conspiracy. Building it has been an adventure, an experience, a headache and a pleasure . . . mixed up day by day.” So wrote Paul A. Bennett in the introduction of a book put together for a single purpose, presentation to Frederic W. Goudy on this day in 1935, the eve of his seventieth birthday.

The book, called Spinach From Many Gardens, was the first publishing effort of the Typophiles, a group described by the late Paul McPharlin as “Paul Bennett surrounded by a body of printing enthusiasts.” Since the early Thirties this group—held together by Bennett’s personality—has met for lunch on Wednesdays in a variety of different locations. This happy company is composed of printers and others who are especially fond of matters typographical and as such it has represented a haven for visiting firemen of that persuasion who find themselves in New York upon a Wednesday.

The idea of producing this first Typophile volume was first presented at a luncheon meeting on February 6th. Just one month later some twenty-two signatures had been written, printed by the same number of presses, and bound into a book, together with a title page by Bruce Rogers. None of the subsequent books produced by the group have been completed with such dispatch, but all have represented the same labor of love approach.

Upon the completion of Spinach, three additional books and two portfolios were turned out before it was decided to adopt a standard size of 4½ x 7 inches and to number each volume. Through 1966, this program has resulted in the publication of forty-three Chap Books, as they are called, in addition to numerous Monographs contributed by individual members. There is no regular publication date, which makes the arrival of a Typophile “package” an event to be remembered by most of the fortunate members.

The subject matter of the series is as varied as the specialties of the members. Many of the titles are books which are just not commercially practicable, no matter how worthwhile they may be individually. Included are books about early American currency, calligraphy, type design, etc., in addition to collected essays of such well-known writers as W.A. Dwiggins, Carl P. Rollins, and Lawrence C. Wroth. Biography has been covered with accounts of Baskerville, Bruce Rogers, John Howard Benson, W.A. Dwiggins, Elmer Adler, and others. The famous autobiography of Frederic W. Goudy appeared as a two-volume work, A Half Century of Type Design and Typography, 1895-1945, published in 1946.

Paul Bennett wrote a lively account of the Typophile publishing program for The Penrose Annual, 1960, to which, without his knowledge, a footnote was added, written by Joseph Blumenthal: “. . . and Paul Bennett failed to mention the name of the one person who made the whole project start, continue, and thrive. That person conceives the books, he wet-nurses them, he nourishes and worries and licks them into form (like the bears in the old Bestiaries), he humors the printer, the papermaker and the binder into begging to do these books, he wraps them up and carries them to the post office, collects a pittance from subscribers, and so on and so on into the long hours of the night.”

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