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Allen Press and Dorothy and Lewis Allen Ephemera Collection
Press coll. Archives Allen  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Provenance
  • Publication Rights

  • Contributing Institution: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
    Title: Allen Press and Dorothy and Lewis Allen Ephemera Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: Press coll. Archives Allen
    Physical Description: 2 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1943-1991
    Abstract: The Allen Press was a private press founded in 1939 by Lewis and Dorothy Allen and based in the San Francisco Bay area. This collection includes printed ephemera (predominantly prospectuses), photographs, and correspondence.
    Language of Material: English .

    Biographical Note

    The Allen Press, also referred to as L-D Allen Press, was a private press based in the San Francisco Bay area, founded in 1939 by husband and wife team Lewis and Dorothy Allen. Lewis Allen met Dorothy Caswell when they both studied at the University of California, Berkeley. The Allens were particularly fascinated by books produced by Aldus Manutius, William Morris, John Henry Nash, and the Grabhorns (to name a few). These noted presses served as an inspiration for Lewis and Dorothy's work as full-time hand-press printers.
    The Allen Press was founded shortly after their marriage and they produced their first book in 1939. This book, with on hundred copies printed, was The Trail of Beauty by Lewis' father, Harris Sterns Allen. Lewis' father also served as a catalyst for their printing ambitions. The Allen Press performed all facets of bookmaking: selection of text, typography, choice of materials and colors, hand-set types hand-printed on handmade paper, illumination, occasionally illustrations, binding, and marketing. In the selection of text, the Allens favored readability, depth of thought, and imaginative qualities.
    The following editions are considered the most successful by Lewis and Dorothy Allen: Roughing It In California; The Noble Knight Paris and the Fair Vienne; Murders in the Rue Morgue; Youth; The Splendid Idle Forties; Four Poems of the Occult; The Mirrour of Genesis; Jealousy; Christopher Columbus; The Bacchae; All For Love; Persian Stories from the Arabian Nights.
    Over the course of their careers, the Allens produced a large collection of ephemera consisting of prospectuses of their books, labels, announcements, Christmas cards, and broadsides of various types.
    Information sourced from the records themselves and from The Allen Press Bibliography that can be found at the William Andrews Clark Library, UCLA.

    Scope and Contents

    The collection is comprised of ephemera created by the Allen Press, particularly prospectuses for their books. Most of the prospectuses are small broadsides folded for mailing. All of the prospectuses served as samples of the Allens's work and provided detailed information about each book. A reply card and return envelope were usually mailed with the prospectuses. Some orders were directed to the Allens and other orders directed to the Argonaut Bookshop in San Francisco.
    The collection also includes ephemera for the Book Club of California and Roxburghe Club of San Francisco as well as envelopes, labels, announcements, exhibit postcards, and correspondence with Margot and H. Richard Archer, the latter of whom was a librarian at the Clark Library in the 1940s and 1950s.


    The collection is organized into the following series:
    Series 1. Correspondence
    Series 2. Prospectuses
    Series 3. Book Club of California
    Series 4. Roxburghe Club of San Francisco
    Series 5. Miscellaneous Ephemera

    Conditions Governing Access

    Collection is open for research.


    The provenance of this collection is unclear. It is possible that this collection was formed over time by Clark Library staff, with donations from H. Richard Archer.

    Publication Rights

    The Clark Library owns the property rights to its collections but does not hold the copyright to these materials and therefore cannot grant or deny permission to use them. Researchers are responsible for determining the copyright status of any materials they may wish to use, investigating the owner of the copyright, and obtaining permission for their intended publication or other use. In all cases, you must cite the Clark Library as the source with the following credit line: The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

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