Thursday, January 14, 2010

Antioch Bookplate Company III

With permission from the college, the students named their venture The Antioch Bookplate Company. Eventually Kahoe sold his interest to Morgan; while Morgan continued his education during daylight hours and printed bookplates and bookmarks by night. Relatives and friends pitched in to help him with his fledgling business. To sell his product to dealers, Ernest Morgan hitchhiked his way around the region. “As Morgan neared the end of his academic education, he was offered an attractive employment opportunity with McGraw-Hill and he had to decide between a promising future with an established publishing firm or continuing the struggle to make his own business grow. After much thought, he chose to risk following his own course because his dreams included much more that simply earning a living. His goal was to create a ‘community of work,’ based on the Quaker values with which he was raised. These values included honesty, mutual respect, tolerance, recognition of the dignity of people and their ideas, and corporate and individual responsibility. Far ahead of his time, Ernest looked upon the workplace as a community of equals, sharing in the process of meaningful work and its rewards. By 1929, profit-sharing was a practice of the company, an institution that pioneered in democratic, inter-racial and profit-sharing policies.

The first flyer from Antioch, presumably in the1930s, consisted of ten design images, coded in the catalog as M. The two most often seen are the first featuring owls and the second having a stylized gazelle, both universally popular images for bookplates. A later undated single sheet flyer depicted twelve new images including that show two additional very popular themes, the first with a familiar verse by an unidentified author and the other with a frigate under full sail. Variations of the frigate image have been used without the compass rose and with the addition of lines from Emily Dickinson’s poem: “There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away.”

With the publication of the 1944 catalog (35 pages), the company’s inventory of designs had grown exponentially. They had also acquired the design stock of Stenzel & Company of New York City and the black and white designs of the Rustcraft Company of Boston. Rustcraft had in the 1920s and 30s also carried a series of at least eight four- color designs enhanced with gold accents that Antioch apparently did not acquire. The bookplate image of M6 had appeared also in an earlier Joseph G. Bolger flyer, although Antioch, using the same pictorial, restyled the lettering. The design used as R66 is representative of the twelve bookplate designs identified in the Antioch catalog as “the more popular items of the series formerly published by the Rustcraft Company, of Boston.”

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