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Guide to the John Henry Nash papers, 1909-1947
BANC MSS 72/245 c  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: John Henry Nash Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1909-1947
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 72/245 c
    Creator: Nash, John Henry, 1871-1947
    Extent: Number of containers: 15 boxes, 5 cartons, 11 volumes, 2 oversize folders
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library 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 by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John Henry Nash papers, BANC MSS 72/245 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Material Cataloged Separately

    • Photographs and typographical ephemera transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library
      Identifier/Call Number: (BANC PIC 1944.003-.005)


    John Henry Nash was born in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada on March 12, 1871. He left high school at the age of sixteen and became an apprentice in the shop of James Murray, one of the leading printers in Toronto. He worked as a compositor for several years in Toronto and for a few months in Denver before moving to San Francisco in 1895 where he found employment with the Hicks-Judd Company. Several years later he and Bruce Brough established the Twentieth Century Press which became the Tomoyé Press when Paul Elder became a partner. In 1911 he formed a partnership with Henry H. and Edward Dewitt Taylor which lasted until 1915. Following a brief association with the Blair-Murdock Company, he opened his own shop. For the next 22 years he produced books, pamphlets, broadsides and job printing which embodied the technical perfection he demanded. Vital patronage came mainly from William Andrews Clark, Jr. who commissioned him to print catalogues of his extensive library as well as Christmas books for distribution to friends. William Randolph Hearst chose him to publish a biography of his mother which appeared in 1928 and one of his father in 1933. Continuous support also came from bibliographic organizations such as the Grolier Club of New York City and the Book Club of California and from numerous individual clients. Most of his other publications were intended as gifts for friends and clients. His most ambitious publication and one of the few printed for direct sale was The Comedy of Dante Alighieri which appeared in 1929. Nash retired in 1938, moved his library and shop to the University of Oregon at Eugene, and accepted a temporary appointment as Professor of Typography. He supervised the design and composition of books selected by students to be printed by the John Henry Nash Fine Arts Press. In 1943 he returned to Berkeley where he died four years later.

    Scope and Content

    His papers were a gift to the University of California in 1944 from the Milton S. Ray family and were transferred to The Bancroft Library from the General Library's Rare Books and Special collections Department in 1970.
    Consisting of correspondence; manuscripts; printer's copy and proofs of some of his publications; personalia; scrapbooks and guest books, they document his career as a printer. Photographs and typographical ephemera have been removed to the Library's Pictorial and Typography Collections respectively.
    The Key to Arrangement which follows describes the collection in greater detail.