Pamela Hovland

Happy Holidays from Robert Frost

In 1926, two idealistic book-loving young men, Joseph Blumenthal and George Hoffman, opened a letterpress shop in New York City under the name of Spiral Press. The publisher Henry Holt and Company was an important early client; they hired Spiral Press to produce a book of collected poems for the American poet Robert Frost. During this project, Joseph Blumenthal decided to reprint one of Frost’s poems to use as a Christmas greeting card for his wife and a small group of colleagues. Robert Frost saw the card, appreciated the efforts of this small press and wrote to Blumenthal requesting a meeting, which happened a few weeks later. This bit of ephemera inspired a long collaboration between Blumenthal and Frost as well as many top woodcut and engraving artists of the day. The poet and designer/printer sent the cards (8, 12 or 16 page chapbooks) yearly as a Christmas greeting: over time, these grew to become an acclaimed series of first editions (and an in-demand annual tradition). Twenty-five chapbooks were produced between 1929 and 1962. The accompanying video shows 19 of them now on display through January 23rd, 2013 at the Pequot Library in Southport, Connecticut. The chapbooks are on loan from Elinor Frost Wilber, Frost’s granddaughter, and several are inscribed with personal messages to her. —Pamela Hovland

Posted in: Art, Books, Design History, Poetry

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