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MA printing museum acquires Charles Francis library

Aug 3, 2011 12:00 AM


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The Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA, announces its acquisition of the Charles Francis collection of printing for display. The museum will exhibit of the Francis Collection beginning in 2012.

 From the 1880s to the 1930s, the Charles Francis Press was one of the largest American printers. The Francis Press was the major tenant in the Printing Crafts Building (461 8th Ave., New York), now 5 Penn Plaza and the first building designed for multiple printing industry tenants. Symbols of historic printers are still present above the main entrance.

 With fellow printer Theodore De Vinne, Francis helped to establish the predecessor to PIA and wrote several books on printing company management. He collected books and artifacts about printing history which he donated to the New York School of Printing, which also was a tenant. In 1956, the school moved into its own building on 49th Street and 10 Avenue and was renamed New York City High School of Communication Arts.

 Most of the library was packed in boxes and stored away for 50 years. In 2006, RIT Professor Frank Romano and a small team of volunteers organized the collection. The City of New York has converted the building to a Gateway School for technical subjects and print was reduced to one small set of courses.

 The City gave some of the Francis Bibles and other personal items to Fordham University and the balance to the Museum of Printing, including the large brass memorial to Charles Francis. Letterform expert Paul Shaw acquired certain duplicates on art and design. One of the items is a commemorative book signed by every student of the school on the 80th birthday of Fred Goudy.

 See www.museumofprinting.org.