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Merrymount Press Records: Finding Aid
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Note on the Merrymount Press
  • Biographical note on D. B. Updike
  • Scope and Content
  • Related materials
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Merrymount Press Records
    Dates (inclusive): 1893-1950
    Collection Number: mssMerrymount
    Creator: Merrymount Press
    Extent: 364 boxes and 236 volumes (439.92 linear feet)
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection consists of the business records of the Merrymount Press of Boston, Massachusetts, and papers of its owner Daniel Berkeley Updike (1860-1941). The Press, which operated for 45 years, was known for its excellence in typography and design, especially in the field of decorative printing and bookmaking.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Merrymount Press Records, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    The specimen and financial volumes were purchased from John Bianchi in 1949 and chiefly received by Huntington in 1950; the correspondence, bills, and estimates were the gift of Daniel B. Bianchi in 1958.

    Processing Information

    The collection was processed by Sue Hodson and Allen Hanish in the 1970s and they maintained Merrymount Press's original filing system. From 2018-2020, Diann Benti, Kate Peck, and Gina Giang completed physical control over the collection and improved the physical condition of materials by separating out overstuffed folders and boxes. This added 33 boxes to the collection; no new material was added. The new boxes appear in the same order, with the original box numbers and appended with the letter ‘a’. The finding aid was prepared and encoded by Diann Benti and Kate Peck in 2018 and updated by Gina Giang in 2020.

    Historical Note on the Merrymount Press

    The Merrymount Press was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1896 by Daniel Berkeley Updike (1860-1941). The Press, which operated for 45 years, was known for its excellence in typography and design, especially in the field of decorative printing and bookmaking. In 1893, Updike established himself as an independent printing designer, but it took several years to acquire type, and only in 1896 did he name his business the "Merrymount Press." The Press completed a variety of printing jobs including small jobs like bookplates, letterhead, invitations, and cards; institutional and commercial work including school catalogs, diplomas, and advertising booklets; trade publications for publishers; privately printed books; and limited editions, including two of the Press's most well-known works, the Altar Book (1896) and the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer (1930). Updike and the Press worked with a variety of suppliers, publishing houses, craftsmen, and artists, including illustrators T. M. Cleland, W. A. Dwiggins, and Rudolph Ruzicka.
    Italian immigrant John Bianchi (1874-1957) was integral to the Press, first as its foreman and later, in 1915, as Updike's partner. It was Bianchi who managed the financial aspects of the company and was responsible for doing the Press's estimates. Following Updike's death in 1941, Bianchi ran the business until early 1949.

    Biographical note on D. B. Updike

    Daniel Berkeley Updike (1860-1941) was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on February 24, 1860. Updike did not attend college; at 18 he began working as an assistant at the Providence Athenaeum, before becoming a clerk for Houghton, Mifflin and Company in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1880. Updike worked for the company for a decade before transitioning to their Riverside Press imprint in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Updike worked there for two years before emerging independently as a printing designer in 1893 in Boston; he named his business the "Merrymount Press" in 1896. Updike became known for scholarly interest in typography; his book "Printing types, their history, forms, and use: a study in survivals," based on lectures, was first published in 1922. He was a founder of the Society of Printers in Boston and a president and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Updike died in Boston on December 29, 1941.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains of the business records of the Merrymount Press and the related papers of its founder Daniel Berkeley Updike (1860-1941). The bulk of the collection consists of financial volumes; correspondence with customers, publishers, illustrators, craftsmen, and suppliers; bills; estimates; and scrapbooks with specimens of work. While the majority of the correspondence is comprised of letters, there are occasionally proofs, specimens, and cloth, paper, fabric samples, etc., found with the correspondence. The records reflect Updike's involvement with printing across the United States and in Europe, though much of his work was produced for clients in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York City. Some of the correspondence reflects Updike's personal interests including Rhode Island history and churches and charitable work with poor children as well as prison inmates.
    Correspondence, 1893-1906

    Incoming correspondence for 1893 to 1906 is arranged chronologically in boxes and there is currently no name index. Consequently, a researcher searching for correspondence by a specific individual or company needs to look in all folders within an applicable date range. Copies of outgoing correspondence are held in chronological letter books (Volumes 1-31), each with a front alphabetical index. There is also one letter book containing miscellaneous personal correspondence of Updike dating from December 1903-January 1907 (Volume 32). Much of the correspondence in Volume 32 relates to Updike's involvement in various plans to develop a press for Harvard University.
    Correspondence, 1907-1952

    For 1906-1952, original incoming letters, carbon copies of outgoing correspondence, bills, and estimates are grouped in correspondent files arranged according to the year in which the first communication was received by the Press. This filing system was created to work with an alphabetical card catalog (Boxes 321-322) that contains correspondent names, addresses, and group numbers. In some cases the cards also have cross references to related groups. The origin of this organizational schema remains unclear, but its idiosyncrasies impact the ability to find material.
    There are over 2000 entities assigned individual group numbers in this system. The group numbers were presumably assigned before the material was transferred to the Huntington Library in 1958, and the group numbers were written in blue pencil at the top of each piece of paper along with a sequential item number. (Note: in some cases, items were misfiled or sequential item numbers were incorrectly assigned; consequently the blue handwritten numbers may not be entirely accurate.)
    This finding aid provides the group number, correspondent name, and the date range of included documents. It does not provide an indication of piece count, and it should be noted that a file may contain only letter or it may contain hundreds of pieces. In addition, the group name typically reflects the main correspondent represented in the file, but in some cases there is related correspondence with other individuals, companies, or organizations.
    Most of the entities represented are customers of the Press, but numbers were also assigned for individuals and companies doing business with the Merrymount Press or its owner Daniel Updike (such as the Edison Electric Company, tax offices, and investment firms); or for individuals with whom Updike had personal communication. Updike, Bianchi, and Bianchi's son Daniel Berkeley Bianchi also have correspondence files that provides information about the activities of the business. Daniel Bianchi (Group 2214) worked as a representative for the Press in New York beginning in the late 1930s, as did Vrest Orton in 1934-1935 (Group 2176), and their files provide reports of meetings with customers.
    While most groups are named for individuals or organizations, some materials are filed by type including:
    • Group 125 (Boxes 75-76): Updike, Daniel B. Personal miscellaneous correspondence
    • Group 246 (Box 95): Miscellaneous Business Papers, 1906-1917
    • Group 549 (Boxes 126-128): Applications for employment
    • Group 737 (Boxes 144-145): Foreign booksellers
    • Group 847 (Boxes 152-153): Miscellaneous correspondence, 1907-1919 arranged alphabetically
    • Group 847 (Boxes 154-160): Miscellaneous correspondence, 1920-1929 arranged alphabetically
    • Group 847 (Boxes 161-172): Miscellaneous correspondence, 1930-1948 arranged alphabetically
    • Group 1089 (Box 217): Religious Documents Printed by the Merrymount Press, 1908
    • Group 2275 (Box 318): Victory Tax, ca. 1943-1949 (includes W-2 withholding receipts for employees)
    Note: Groups are also referred to as folders on the physical boxes.
    Financial volumes

    The financial volumes include day-books, journals, cash books, invoice books, sales books, ledgers, and job books (Volumes 33-141). In addition there are books of copies of receipts generated by the Merrymount Press to customers (Volumes 197-200), as well as volumes recording cash receipts/disbursements related to the estate and trust of Edward Perry Warren (Volume 201-203). Updike was a trustee of the Warren trust, and these volumes are complemented by files found in the correspondence series. There is also what appears to be a personal cash book for Updike, 1902-1903 (Volume 205)
    Specimen books

    The collection also includes an extensive set of scrapbooks of minor printing done by the Press containing specimens of small jobs such as bookplates, envelopes, pamphlets, and programs (Volumes 142-180). There is also a scrapbook of small advertising jobs produced by Houghton-Mifflin Co. while D. B. Updike worked for them in the 1880s and early 1890s (Volume 184). In addition there are scrapbooks of minor printing, design examples, and type specimens maintained by the Press (Volumes 185-196).
    Additional materials

    The collection also contains other materials created by or owned by the Merrymount Press. This includes 30 publishing dummies, mostly for books printed by the Pres (Volumes 206-234), including The Book of Common Prayer; decorative and marbled endpaper samples (Box 327); two volumes containing clipped press notices from newspapers about the Press (Volumes 235-236); some publications/articles about Updike and the Press (Box 328); and 17 catalogs, chiefly bookseller sales catalogs, which are primarily related to printing and typography (most of these catalogs contain the Merrymount Press bookplate). There are also miscellaneous typescript manuscripts (Boxes 325-326) consisting of: "Memoirs of Mary Baker Eddy" by Adam H. Dickey [typescript manuscript with pencil corrections and annotations], 1927; a translation from the German of Music Printing with movable type in the 16th century. Leipzig, 1892 [typescript manuscript]; "Humanistic Script" (Chapter III) by Stanley Morison [typescript manuscript]; and "Printing Types" manuscript and notes by D. B. Updike, 1937.

    Related materials


    This collection is arranged in the following order:
    • Correspondence
      • Incoming correspondence arranged chronologically, 1893-1906 (Boxes 1-32)
      • Outgoing correspondence letter books, 1893-1906 (Volumes 1-32)
      • Correspondence and documents arranged by group, 1906-1952 (Boxes 33-320)
      • Correspondent index cards (Boxes 321-322)
    • Financial volumes
      • Day-books, 1896-1911 (Volumes 33-34)
      • Journals, 1895-1912-1950 (Volumes 35-38)
      • Cash books, 1898 August-1950 December (Volume 39-55)
      • Invoice books, 1899 October-1950 September (Volumes 56-76)
      • Sales books, 1899 November-1950 November (Volumes 77-90)
      • Trial Balance book, 1911 April 29-1912 March 30 (Volume 91)
      • Ledgers, 1894 November-1950 December (Volumes 92-103)
      • Job Books, 1895 December-1949 January (Volumes 104-141)
      • Receipt Books, 1897 August-1906 April (Volumes 197-200)
      • Cash Receipts/Disbursements related to the estate and trust of Edward Perry Warren, 1926 January-1932 December (Volumes 201-204)
      • Daniel Updike personal cash book (?), 1902 June 7-1903 February 18 (Volume 205)
    • Specimen books
      • Scrapbooks of minor printing, 1895-1949 (Volumes 142-180)
      • Specimen Pages, 1897-[1901] and undated (Volumes 181-183)
      • Houghton-Mifflin Co. advertising pages, [approximately 1883-approximately 1893] (Volume 184)
      • Scrap book of designs (Volume 185)
      • Prints (Volume 186)
      • Scrapbook of various type specimens (Volume 187)
      • G. Schirmer music cover proofs (Volumes 188-190)
      • Minor printing of various American, English, and Continental Presses (Volumes 191-196)
      • World Conference on Faith and Order pamphlets (Boxes 323-324)
    • Miscellaneous manuscripts (Boxes 325-326)
    • Publishing dummy volumes (Volumes 206-234)
    • Decorative endpaper samples (Box 327)
    • Materials collected by or about the Press
      • Press notices, 1896-1940s (Volumes 235-236)
      • Publications/Articles about Updike and the Press (Box 328)
      • 77 plates of Greek Types (facsimiles) (Box 329)
      • Miscellaneous items chiefly related to typography (Box 330)
      • Catalogs related to printing and typography (Box 331)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Bianchi, John, 1874-
    Morison, Samuel Eliot, 1887-1976 -- Photographs.
    Updike, Daniel Berkeley, 1860-1941.
    Warren, Edward Perry, 1860-1928.
    Harvard University Press.
    Merrymount Press -- Archives.
    Authors, American -- Correspondence.
    Authors and publishers -- United States -- Correspondence.
    Book industries and trade -- Massachusetts -- Boston.
    Paper companies -- United States -- Correspondence.
    Printing -- Massachusetts -- Boston.
    Publishers and publishing -- Massachusetts -- Boston.
    Small presses -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- Archives.


    Business records -- Massachusetts -- Boston.
    Dummies (Publishing) -- United States -- 20th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- Massachusetts -- Boston.

    Additional Contributors.

    Bianchi, John, 1874-
    Brent, Charles Henry, 1862-1929.
    Bullen, Henry Lewis, 1857-1938, correspondent.
    Carrington, Fitz Roy, 1869-1954, correspondent.
    Cobden-Sanderson, T. J. (Thomas James), 1840-1922.
    Cortissoz, Royal, 1869-1948, correspondent.
    De Vinne, Theodore Low, 1828-1914.
    Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956.
    Einstein, Lewis, 1877-1967, correspondent.
    Farrand, Beatrix, 1872-1959, correspondent.
    Gardner, Isabella Stewart, 1840-1924.
    Goodhue, Bertram Grosvenor, 1869-1924.
    Goodspeed, Charles E. (Charles Eliot), 1867-1950, correspondent.
    Greene, Belle da Costa.
    Kellen, William Vail, 1852-1942, correspondent.
    Kent, Henry Watson, 1866-1948.
    Morgan, J. P., Jr. (John Pierpont), 1867-1943.
    Morison, Stanley, 1889-1967.
    Rogers, Bruce, 1870-1957.
    Ruzicka, Rudolph, 1883-1978
    Updike, Daniel Berkeley, 1860-1941.
    Orton, Vrest, 1897-1986.
    Warde, Frederic, 1894-1939.
    Warren, Edward Perry, 1860-1928, correspondent.
    Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937.
    Wheelwright, Mary C., correspondent.
    Winship, George Parker, 1871-1952.
    American Institute of Graphic Arts, correspondent.
    American Numismatic Society (1907- ), correspondent.
    Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, correspondent.
    Club of Odd Volumes, correspondent.
    Doubleday, Page & Co., correspondent.
    G. Schirmer, Inc., correspondent.
    Harvard College Library, correspondent.
    Harvard College, correspondent.
    Hispanic Society of America, correspondent.
    Japan Paper Company, correspondent.
    John Carter Brown Library, correspondent.
    Oliver Ditson Company, correspondent.
    Oxford University Press, correspondent.
    Thomas Y. Crowell Company, correspondent.