Archive for February, 2013

Printing, A Desirable Career

February 27, 2013


Printing, A Desirable Career published by the Los Angeles Trade-Tech Junior College in the mid-1950’s is this week’s focus in the Cataloging Department. The Clark Library holds an extensive (yet little used) collection of mid-20th century printing and graphic arts manuals, reference works, type and paper specimens, promotional literature, yearbooks, and archives of Los Angeles based printers, designers, and typographers. The Library received a couple of significant bequests that added to these holdings, those of Ward Ritchie just after he died in 1996, and the 2004 gift from Marian Harvey in memory of Joel Harvey. These materials are an invaluable source of printing history, especially since so much was ephemeral. From items in these collections we can trace the highs and lows of the commercial industry, print culture and capitalism, the beauty of commercial graphic designs, and advances in information technology.

This promotional booklet with a description of the skills and career potential for printers and bookbinders is a nostalgic look back at an industry that was changing at the moment this publication hit press. Numerous photographs of printers, compositors, binders, and graphic artists at work are included to tempt those looking for an educational opportunity that would promise a secure future. Statistics of industry growth prove the stability of the field and if the thought of inky fingers from the printing press wasn’t appealing, “the course in printing management at Trade-Tech is an invitation to Executive positions.”

After explicating the many exciting options of the ancient arts, the booklet features one-page profiles of successful printers that could call LATTC their alma mater. Kenneth H. Jann, Robert P. Crossley, Ward Ritchie, and Dale S. Chambers are the four fellows that found fame and fortune after graduation. This copy comes to us through the Ward Ritchie bequest. At Ward’s page is a simple inscription from his friend, Joe: “You made it.”


This booklet was published the same year as that of the founding of NASA and DARPA. It was only a matter of time before space age technology reached the printing industry. Letterpress was already becoming commercially unviable, a phototypeset and offset printed book was published the year before, Xerox debuted in 1959 and by the mid-1960s most newspapers had adopted digital production processes. Letterpress printing collapsed almost overnight. How Los Angeles Trade-Tech College reorganized their departments and shifted their curriculum to focus on new methods of information distribution would be an interesting topic of further research. Suffice it to say, we hope our friend with the Pendleton plaid shirt and pompadour was able to enjoy a successful career as a printer!


Printing, A Desirable Career. Los Angeles Trade-Tech Jr. College [Los Angeles: Los Angeles Trade Technical College, ca. 1958] [40] p.; ill., ports.; 23 x 30 cm.
Call no.: f Z243 .L87

From Head Cataloger Nina Schneider

The Clark’s Night with Coffee: Thierry Rigogne on Myths and Histories of the French Cafe

February 22, 2013

Last night’s visitors to the Clark were full of merriment and nostalgia for cafe culture and coffee itself.  We were thrilled to welcome Thierry Rigogne, Associate Professor, Department of History, Fordham University, to present his lecture, “Myths, Anecdotes, Petite Histoire and Some History, Too: Creating the French Café.”  Further information about Rigogne’s lecture can be found on the Clark/Center calendar.  Prior to the lecture, guests were treated to a coffee tasting provided by Verve Coffee Roasters of Santa Cruz, CA, and mingled on the front steps enjoying the late afternoon sun.

The Clark’s current exhibition also keeps close to the coffee theme.  Shannon K. Supple and Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft curated the exhibition and more information on its contents can be found here.  The exhibition will be on view through March 22, 2013.  Please click-through the gallery below to enjoy images from last night’s event!

Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and the 12th of February

February 12, 2013

It is striking that two men, as great in the eyes of history as Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, would be born on the same day. Yet, on 12 February 1809, both Lincoln and Darwin indeed entered the world. You may expect that Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (London: John Murray, 1859) would be amongst the collections of the Clark Library. And you would be correct.

Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1859)

Though less expected, our other celebrated birthday fellow is also represented in the library’s collections. The Clark has two documents signed by Abraham Lincoln during his presidency of the United States, including a pardon of a Mr. James S. Stull on, of all days, President Lincoln’s 55th birthday, 12 February 1864.

Lincoln pardon of James S. Stull

Whether for science, society, or a pardon for an unknown wrong, the 12th of February seems like a day to celebrate.

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!

February 7, 2013

In honor of Charles Dickens’ 201st birthday, we thought we would share one of the many Dickens items that Mr Clark collected.  Though Dickens is not really in the Clark’s usual scope, he was one of our founder’s favorites and we have a nice collection of Dickens in parts as a result.

“What is Dickens in parts?” you might ask.

Dickens’ novels were originally published serially — either on a monthly or weekly basis –and issued in paper-bound booklets (each almost the size of a National Geographic, if you are looking for a visual).  When the novel was done, readers had the option of having their novel bound together in a nice leather binding — but not everyone did.

All of the parts of David Copperfield stacked together

All of the parts of David Copperfield stacked together are over 4 inches high

To our modern eyes, these parts don’t really look like what we expect from Charles Dickens.  They don’t look very grand or important and the fact that they are bound in paper may seem a little anachronistic, if you are used to thinking of old books solely as leather-bound tomes.  However, though we might think of the paperback as a modern invention, in reality, most books issued before the mid-1800s were  issued in paper wrappers.  Just as a reader might have their copy of a serial like Bleak House bound in leather when it was all published, readers had the choice whether to have their non-serialized novels bound in leather or cloth, too.

David Copperfield, 1849.

David Copperfield, 1849.

Dickens in parts aren’t just interesting to see because they differ in physical appearance from what we might expect.  They also differ considerably from our modern expectations in terms of their content — there is of course the text of the novel, but each volume contains almost as many pages of advertising as it does pages of Dickens.

Because Dickens’ was such a successful and popular writer, the various issues of his novels were a great space for advertisers to show off their products.  Some of these products were other books or writers, which aren’t entirely unfamiliar to us — contemporary children’s series books, for example, contain those.

non-book advertising

non-book advertising

Where our David Copperfield (pictured here) in parts really diverges from our present-day conception of “the book” (not to mention “the book by a canonical author”) is in the ads that have absolutely nothing to do with books.

Locock's Female Pills advertised in David Copperfield

Locock’s Female Pills advertised in David Copperfield

David Copperfield was originally issued in 20 separate parts, which means it contains a rich repository of similar advertising and contextual information about the Victorian world.   If you are interested in learning more about Dickens and the original format of his works, the Clark owns several other Dickens novels in parts, all of which were purchased by our founder in the 1910s and 1920s.