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Rounce and Coffin Club Records
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Organizational History
  • Scope and Contents
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Custodial History
  • Related Materials
  • Processing History

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
    Title: Rounce and Coffin Club Records
    Creator: Rounce & Coffin Club
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.2017.008
    Physical Description: 24 boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1931-2007
    Abstract: The Rounce & Coffin Club was a 20th-century fine press book and printing club that operated from 1931 to 2007. It was founded by four members, and at its peak had over fifty-five local members. The Club sponsored the Western Books Exhibition (a traveling exhibition of the best fine press printing from the Western United States) from 1938 to 2005. This archive includes records (event, meeting, membership, financial, publicity, and general) as well as printed ephemera, photographs, and correspondence.

    Organizational History

    The Rounce & Coffin Club, originally called the "Thistle Club," was founded in the fall of 1931 by Jake Zeitlin, Grant Dahlstrom, Gregg Anderson, and Ward Ritchie. A "rounce" and a "coffin" are two parts of a hand press. The first few meetings were held at Zeitlin's residence in Echo Park, and the club's members included printers, librarians, and booksellers. Well-known librarian, author, and bibliographer Lawrence Clark Powell joined the club in September 1933. He describes the club's mission in "Ten Years (Almost) of Rounce & Coffinism" (published in 1941 by the College Press at Los Angeles City College): "Our message? Our mission? To raise the standards of printing here in the West and to teach the layman--even the librarian--what we hold to be excellence in printing. And among ourselves to breed good fellowship."
    As time went on and the club's membership grew, meetings were held at different hotels and restaurants in Pasadena, Hollywood, and other parts of East and Central Los Angeles. Members began to take great care designing and printing letterpress keepsakes, meeting and event invitations. The meetings of the Rounce & Coffin Club would sometimes include talks by guest speakers, including visiting professors from UCLA and other universities. Experts on printing would present on the work of well-known printers like John Henry Nash and Aldus Manutius. Members would also present on their own work. Some of the members of Rounce and Coffin fought in the second World War (founder Lt. Gregg Anderson was killed in Normandy in 1944), and as a result, meetings became slightly less frequent. To compensate, Lawrence Clark Powell (along with other members), circulated a newsletter, "The Flying Hiatus," to keep the club apprised of news and goings-on.
    In the 1950s and 1960s, the club had between 30 and 35 resident members for any given year. By the mid-1970s, women were allowed to join the club. Accordingly perhaps, in the seventies and eighties, membership grew slightly to 40 resident members in 1976, and 55 by 1983. In the later eighties, membership fell slightly. By 1999, there were still 43 members of Rounce & Coffin, and the club was still active. In the mid-2000s, many of the most active members (including Secretary-Treasurer Mike Sutherland, Muir Dawson, Vance Gerry, and Regis Graden) passed away. In June 2007, a meeting of the Rounce & Coffin Club Board of Governors dissolved the group, and it was decided that Occidental College would receive the Club's Archive and collection of Western Books.
    1938 marked the first year of the Club's Western Books Exhibition, initially conceived by Grant Dahlstrom. As of the 1950s, the selection committee was made up of a representatives from the Rounce & Coffin Club, the Zamorano Club, and the Roxburghe Club. The committee judged the books on their design, the quality of printing, the paper and binding quality, scholarship of subject matter, and overall appearance and feel. The books selected (as of the 1953 Western Books Exhibition) had to have been published in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Utah, West Texas, Alberta, British Columbia, Alaska, or Hawaii. The selected books formed a traveling exhibition, displayed for a week at a time at different libraries all over the Western United States. A catalog would be printed every year. Most years, the Club would auction off the books after the exhibition took place. In the 1950s, roughly thirty books were chosen each year, out of about eighty submissions, representing about fifteen printers and publishers. By the 1980s, the Western Books Exhibition had expanded into nearly fifty books per year. The Western Books Exhibition ran until 2005.
    Some information sourced from http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/ark:/99166/w61g6z2q. Most information sourced from the records themselves.

    Scope and Contents

    The collection includes event, meeting, and membership records, financial records, printed ephemera (including meeting and event invitations), correspondence, Western Books Exhibition catalogs, photographs, publicity materials, and keepsakes printed by and for the members of the Rounce and Coffin Club. The club was active from 1931 - 2007.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Clark Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Custodial History

    Gift of Occidental College, 2017.

    Related Materials

    The Clark Library owns several other collections related to the Rounce and Coffin Club, including the official set of books from the Western Books Exhibition and an artifical collection of Rounce and Coffin ephemera collected by former members and Clark Library staff. The Clark also holds archival collections related to many members of the R&C. Please see our listing of finding aids on the Online Archive of California for a complete list of processed collections.

    Processing History

    Collection processed and described by Yvonne M. Eadon in 2017.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Clubs -- California -- 20th century
    Small presses -- 20th century
    Private presses -- 20th century