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Inventory of the Edwin Bliss Hill Papers, 1737-1954, bulk 1895-1948
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Subject Matter
  • Important or Interesting Items
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Edwin Bliss Hill Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1737-1954,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1895-1948
    Creator: Hill, Edwin Bliss
    Extent: 2557 pieces
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Provenance

    Acquired from Hill's daughter, Gertrude (Hill) Muir, from 1950 to 1956, and supplemented by gifts from Vincent Starrett in 1948 and 1956.

    Access

    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Edwin Bliss Hill Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Biography

    Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on August 17, 1866, Edwin Bliss Hill began work as a printer's devil at the age of 18. From his first job with the Michigan Christian Herald, he moved on to various positions with the Detroit Tribune, Detroit News, Detroit Times and, finally, the Detroit Journal from 1891 to 1901. His health failed in 1901 and he spent the years until 1908 living and recuperating in the woods near Lakeland, Michigan, where he continued to pursue his avocation of printing brochures and books, an activity begun in 1882.
    On October 19, 1908, Hill married Clara Ella Hood. Moving to Arizona, Hill worked for the United States Reclamation Service's Salt River Project, where he was in charge of the distribution of irrigation water for the Mesa-Chandler District. In 1918, he was transferred to the El Paso, Texas, office of the U. S. Reclamation Service. Subsequently assigned to the office at Ysleta, Texas, Hill made that small town his home until 1945. His final employment was as Assessor and Collector for the County Water Improvement District No. 1 in El Paso, where he commuted from Ysleta. By 1945, Hill had been retired for several years and he and Mrs. Hill moved to Tempe, Arizona. At the age of 82, Hill died in Mesa, Arizona, on April 6, 1949.
    Throughout his life, Hill devoted his interest and energy to private printing. Having begun to print in 1882 on his first press, a small Daisy, he subsequently used an Excelsior, a Caxton and a Columbian press. Devoting over 50 years to printing, Hill was the owner of the oldest continuously operated private press in the United States. From his press, he issued a variety of verse and prose works, particularly titles by and about Henry David Thoreau, in whose life and works Hill had a strong and lifelong interest. His printing also encompassed works pertaining to Charles Lamb and other authors including Mark Twain, George Moore, John Ruskin, and many others, as well as titles by bibliophiles such as Vincent Starrett and Francis Cummins Lockwood. He produced a series called Sherlockiana, composed of items about Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars, and there were works relating to the artist Frank Holme and the Frank Holme Memorial Group.
    Frank Holme was a Chicago newspaper artist and one of many of the newspapermen, printers and authors Hill met through his printing and literary interests. Holme, born in 1868, worked for a number of papers in Chicago, where he began his School of Illustration. The School was run with the assistance of his wife, Ida May (Van Dyke) Holme, and Oswald Bruce Cooper. Frank and Ida Holme also began a private press called the Bandar Log Press, with the backing of George Ade and others. Traveling to Asheville, North Carolina, Holme spent the years 1901-1902 there in an effort to recover from tuberculosis. During his absence his wife and associates operated the School and ran the Press, with Holme providing supervision by correspondence. In 1902 the Holmes briefly moved their household and their Press to San Francisco and from there to Arizona, where Frank Holme died on July 27, 1904. Subsequently, in the late 1930's, Edwin Bliss Hill, together with Francis Cummins Lockwood, George Ade, Frederic Goudy and others, founded the Frank Holme Memorial Group to perpetuate the artist's memory.

    Subject Matter

    The collection deals primarily with Hill's activities as a private printer, as a founder of the Frank Holme Memorial Group, and as a collector of books and manuscripts. There are also materials by and about Holme, collected by Hill and others as part of the Memorial Group endeavors.
    • I. Manuscripts (274 items)
      • A. Manuscripts by Hill.
      • B. Poetry and prose to be printed by Hill.
      • C. Manuscripts by Holme.
      • D. Biographical sketches of Holme.
    • II. Correspondence (1,807 items)
      • A. To and from Edwin Bliss Hill.
        • 1. Private printing.
        • 2. Hill's press, and material to be printed.
        • 3. Frank Holme Memorial Group.
        • 4. Thoreau (scholarship, texts, etc.), and book and manuscript collecting.
      • B. To and from Frank Holme.
        • 1. School of Illustration.
        • 2. Bandar Log Press.
    • III. Printed items (476 items).
      • A. Proofsheets from Hill's press.
      • B. Miscellaneous (pamphlets, bookmarks, calling cards, etc.).
      • C. Clippings.

    Important or Interesting Items

    • Brown, Ray - letter to Francis Cummins Lockwood, Feb. 24, 1927, is a lengthy recollection of Frank Holme and includes many details of his life.
    • Clemens, Samuel Langhorne - typescript of a suppressed chapter from Life on the Mississippi.
    • Dean, Eva - letters to Edwin Bliss Hill contain recollections of Frank Holme. Eva Dean had been a student at Holme's School of Illustration.
    • DeVinne, Theodore Low - two letters to Hill concerning printing.
    • Emerson, Edward Waldo - letter to Francis Cummins Lockwood about Ralph Waldo Emerson.
    • Forrest, Earle Robert - letters to Hill about Forrest's life as a cowboy and about the book he co-authored with Hill, Lone War Trail of Apache Kid.
    • Hill, Edwin Bliss - list of books printed on his press; and a series of 29 letters and one postcard to Vincent Starrett (1918-1948) discuss Hill's printing and literary pursuits.
    • Holme, Frank - letters written to Oswald Bruce Cooper in 1901, when Holme was away in Asheville, discuss the details of running his School of Illustration.
    • Holme, Ida May (Van Dyke) - correspondence to Hill provides information and dates regarding Frank Holme's life.
    • Jones, Haydon - letter of June 15, 1944, to Hill recalls events in Frank Holme's life.
    • Starrett, Vincent - extensive correspondence with Hill concerning works of his printed by Hill, with enclosures of manuscripts, proofsheets and lay-outs.
    • Yeats, Elizabeth Corbet - correspondence to Hill mentioning various members of the Yeats family and discussing her Cuala Press.
    • Yeats, William Butler - an introductory essay addressed to Lady Gregory, 4 letters to Hill, and one letter to Lily Yeats.

    Bibliography

    Muir, Gertrude Hill, Edwin Bliss Hill: Pioneer Private Printer of the Southwest, American Book Collector 18 (October, 1967), 20-21.
    Myers, John Myers, A Check-list of Items Published by the Private Press of Edwin B. Hill, American Book Collector 18 (October, 1967), 22-27.