Biography of Harry "Ward" Ritchie
Scope and Content of Collection
Other Finding Aids
Bulk Dates: 1932-1974
Collection number: Consult repository
Mary Norton Clapp Library
10 linear ft. (2 manuscript boxes, 17 flat storage boxes).
800 to 900 monographs
Mary Norton Clapp Library
Los Angeles, CA 90041-3314
The collection contains over 800 of Ritchie monographs and approximately 200 pamphlets, college catalogs, and other printed
matter from Anderson, Ritchie & Simon, the
Press, and the Laguna Verde Imprenta. It also contains biographical information about
and his presses in the form of newspaper clippings, chapters from books, and essays written by friends. Additionally, the
collection contains galley proofs, material from a course Ritchie taught at Occidental in the early 1930s, and ephemera.
Physical location: Special Collections Department,
Occidental College Library,
1600 Campus Road, Los Angeles, California 90041-3314
Languages represented in the collection:
Collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from holdings must be submitted in writing to the Special Collections Department.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections 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.
collection, Consult repository, Special Collections Department, Occidental College Library, Occidental College.
The Occidental College Library actively collected monographs and samples of fine printing published by the
Press starting in the 1930s until his death in 1996. Throughout his life Ritchie also donated many items to the collection.
During the library's long association with Ritchie, it also began collecting supporting materials such as biographical articles,
Press catalogs, and bibliographies.
Biography of Harry "
was born in 1905 in Los Angeles, California. His
interest in literature and publishing developed at an early age; as an
eighth-grader at the Marengo Avenue School in South Pasadena, he and a
fellow student launched a printed paper called The Marengo Literary
Leader. They printed student writings, including several of the early
efforts of classmate Lawrence Clark Powell, future University Librarian
at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Ritchie's lifelong
friend. In high school
worked on the school paper and
yearbook, and as an undergraduate at Occidental College, he took a keen
interest in the poetry of Occidental alumnus Robinson Jeffers and that of
Occidental English professor Carlyle MacIntyre. As a printer he would go
on to publish editions of both their works. After graduating from
Occidental College in 1928, he entered law school at the University of
Southern California. He quickly realized, however, that law was not
congenial to him. After discovering the journals of the great English
printer Thomas J. Cobden-Sanderson, co-founder of the Doves Press, who
was once himself a discontented lawyer, Ritchie decided to give up law
and become a printer and book designer. He enrolled in a printing class
at a nearby trade school and got a job at the Abby of San Encino Press in
Soon thereafter, with limited printing experience but ample enthusiasm,
he traveled to Paris to seek an apprenticeship with internationally
renowned printer Francois-Louis Schmied. Upon his return in 1931,
Ritchie resettled in Los Angeles, and in 1932 he started the
Press. His exceptional talents as a book designer were evident from the
beginning. The first piece he published was an eight-page insert for the
Colophon entitled "First Book: Robinson Jeffers", which attracted
national attention. In 1934, one of Ritchies pieces, an edition of A
Gil Blas in California by Alexandre Dumas, was selected by the American
Institute of Graphic Arts as one of the "Fifty Books of the Year", the
first of many of Ritchies designs to be thus recognized.
During the 1920s and 1930s, fine printing in Southern California
experienced something of a Golden Age. Many new private presses emerged
during this unique and dynamic period, and printers collaborated not only
with each other but with artists, publishers, booksellers, and authors.
Bookseller Jake Zeitlin once aptly referred to this era as a "Small
Renaissance: Southern California Style". Indeed, A Gil Blas in
California is notable not only for its typographical excellence, but
because it represents the synergy and zeitgeist of this Small
Renaissance. It was designed by
, published by Jake Zeitlin's
Primavera Press, illustrated by artist Paul Landacre, and printed by Saul
Marks at the Plantin Press.
Over the next few years the
Press flourished, and soon
became too big for Ward to operate alone. Printer Gregg Anderson joined
the company in 1935. When he was killed in the Normandy invasion, his
wife took over his interest in the firm. Joseph Simon became a partner
in 1945, and the
Press evolved into Anderson, Ritchie &
Simon. This larger press handled mostly commercial printing work, while
Press published keepsakes, limited editions, cookbooks,
and books about local history or Western Americana. In 1976, Ritchie
retired as president of Anderson, Ritchie & Simon, and moved to Laguna
Beach to pursue hand-press printing. He bought an Albion hand press, and
called his press the Laguna Verde Imprenta. Some of his best and most
interesting work comes from this period.
Throughout his life Ritchie remained closely connected with his alma
mater, Occidental College. From 1936 to 1938 he taught a bookmaking
course for the fine arts department. Also during the 1930s, Occidental's
Mary Norton Clapp Library, then under the direction of Elizabeth McCloy,
began collecting Ritchie's graphic work, an endeavor which continued
until his death in the 1996. For his part, Ritchie contributed
generously to that collection throughout his life to help make it
complete. The library held several exhibits of his work over the years,
most notably in 1937 and 1957. In 1960 Ritchie was awarded an honorary
doctorate by the College, and from 1961 to 1973 he served as chairperson
of the Library Patrons.
died in Los Angeles in 1996 at the age of 90. He is
internationally recognized as one of the finest American printers of the
|June 15, 1905
is born in Los Angeles, California.
||Ritchie graduates from South Pasadena High School, along with
Lawrence Clark Powell. The two friends both enrolled at Occidental
||Ritchie graduates from Occidental College.
|| Ritchie travels to Paris to apprentice with internationally
renown French printer Francois-Louis Schmied.
||Ritchie and other young Los Angeles printers and book
enthusiasts found the Rounce & Coffin Club, a book collector's society.
||Ritchie opens the
Press in South Pasadena.
||Ritchie is invited to become a member of the Zamorano Club.
||Ritchie publishes XV Poems for the Heath Broom, a collection of his
own poetry published under the pseudonym Peter Lum Quince. The piece is
selected as one of the "Fifty Books of the Year" by the American
Institute of Graphic Arts.
||Ritchie is president of the commercial press Anderson,
Ritchie & Simon as well as the
||Ritchie is awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Occidental
||Ritchie continues to design and publish fine-press
books on a hand press at his Laguna Beach home, under the name of Laguna
|June 15, 1980
||Ritchie and his friends celebrate his seventy-fifth
birthday and honor his work as a printer with a party at the William
Andrews Clark Memorial Library.
||Ritchie dies in Los Angeles, California at the age of 90.
Scope and Content of Collection
Collection is primarily composed of Ward Ritchies printed work as well as biographical information about
and his presses. The collection contains over 800 cataloged monographs; 7 shelves of uncatalogued or duplicate monographs,
pamphlets, technical manuals, bulletins and other unbound printed matter, and 4 boxes of printed cards, notes announcements,
and other ephemera. It also includes 2 boxes of
Press catalogs from 1932 to 1974.
Press Collection complements that of the William Andrews Clark Library, where the bulk of Ritchies personal papers and an
extensive collection of his printed work are deposited. Occidentals collection contains several notable and unique items,
including copies of The Tiger, his high school newspaper, which he worked on, from 1922 to 1924, and his senior year high
school yearbook, Copa de Oro, 1924 which he also worked on.
Other notable materials include student examinations and papers from a bookmaking course Ritchie taught at Occidental from
1936 to 1938, 5 boxes of galley proofs, and 12 original woodcut prints by David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Related collections include The Correspondence of
and Lawrence Clark Powell, as well as the Christmas Collection, which contains several Christmas books printed by
. Researchers who are interested in the history of fine-press printing in California should be aware that Occidental College
houses the archives of the Zamorano Club, as well as those of the Rounce & Coffin Club, including every book from the Western
Book Exhibition dating back to 1938. (Because they are not owned by the Library, access to the Zamorano Club and Rounce &
Coffin Club archives is restricted. For more information, contact the Special Collections Librarian.)
Major topics covered by the collection include
Press, Anderson, Ritchie & Simon, and fine-press printing in Southern California.
The collection is organized in 5 record series:
- Series: Biographical material
- Series: Occidental College-related material
- Series: Bibliography
- Series: Monographs
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the librarys online public access catalog.
, 1905 -
Printing -- California -- Los Angeles -- History -- 20th century
Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Imprint -- History
Book design -- History
Bibliography -- Fine editions
Other Finding Aids
General inventory list available in the Special Collections office.