September 17

“This cannot be an easy life. We shall have a rugged time of it to keep our minds open and to keep them deep, to keep our sense of beauty and our ability to make it, and our occasional ability to see it, in places remote and strange and unfamiliar; . . .”

This quotation, from the pen of the physicist, Robert Oppenheimer, was read at the memorial service for a fine American printer on September 17, 1955. To Arthur W. Rushmore the words represented his own credo and he had them printed in the Golden Hind Commonplace Book, completed a short time prior to his death over the imprint of his private press. Rushmore had been introduced to the printing of books in 1904, when he went to work for the firm of Harper & Brothers. Here he remained until his retirement in 1950, at which time he was director of design and manufacture.

The Golden Hind Press began with a 14 x 17 hand press which had been discarded by the Harper cut room. To it was added somewhat later a 24 x 36 Washington hand press, which would enable Rushmore to print anything “we should ever be ambitious enough to try.” The type collection of the new enterprise soon included some distinguished designs. From Fred Goudy’s Village Letter Foundery come Goudy Text, Deepdene, Medieval, Truesdell, and Goudy Antique. To these were added ATF Bulmer and Garamond, along with that perennial private press favorite, Original Oldstyle Italic of the now defunct A. D. Farmer & Son foundry. The European foundries were represented with Lutetia from Enschedé in Holland, and Wallau, Weiss and Elizabeth from Germany. Few private presses in the land were so well endowed, but of course even fewer boasted a proprietor so professional.

In addition to an annual Christmas keepsake, the Golden Hind Press produced almost eighty limited edition books for the Harper imprint. The best known were the special editions of the poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. By 1950 the output of the Press had reached a total of 180 books. As Rushmore then stated, “Type, galleys, and books creep like a rising tide through the house. But the compensations have been many: it has brought us the nicest possible friends; it has deepened our respect for fine work wherever we see it; and, the best of all, we have enjoyed that pleasure which only creative work seems to give. Who could ask for more?”

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