The Scripps College Press was founded in 1941 as an experimental typographic laboratory. The impetus to start a teaching press was provided by librarian Dorothy Drake, who encouraged the Class of 1941 to provide start-up funds for the Press. A new typeface was commissioned from renowned type designer Frederic W. Goudy for the Press’ exclusive use, and for the first six years students worked with only two sizes of this typeface on a Washington hand press under the expert instruction of printer and author Ward Ritchie.
Fine press printing and literature professor Joseph Foster ran the Press for the next 23 years, acquiring a Chandler and Price press and quantities of ATF and European foundry type in the process. When he retired in 1971, the Press went on hiatus until 1980 until master printer Christy Bertelson (right, center) took over and emphasized the making of individual books by students. Susan King supervised the Press for a year while professor Bertelson was on leave during the 1985-86 academic year.
In 1986 Kitty Maryatt became the director of the Press and instituted a new program of collaborative class books. Two letterpress books are produced each year by the Typography class. The class supported by the Press is entitled Typography and the Book Arts. Students from all five of the Claremont Colleges are allowed to attend under the premise that all students will learn the highest standards of typography and printing by publishing their own books. These neophyte students are asked to write on a given subject, make imagery, design the layout, hand set the metal type, print the book by letterpress and bind the edition of about 100 copies, all in one semester.
Book projects included BOUSTROPHEDON, inspired by the “Three Perfections” in Chinese culture: calligraphy, poetry and painting; SWEET & SOUR, about nice and not-so-nice characters who are asked to dialogue with each other; CALQL8R, concerning numbers and the typographic design thereof; OVERFLOW, all about water, utilising watercolor painting; SPEAKING in TONGUES, a book about secrets, written in eight languages; LIVRE DES LIVRES, a hand-painted book about art in the French style of the livre de peintre; and LIBRETTO, a book of imagery and stories inspired by music.
Sixty over Thirty: Bibliography of Scripps College Press Books details the sixty collaborative artists’ books produced by students under Kitty Maryatt’s direction. The book is available through Oak Knoll Press. Of the sixty collaborative, student books created since 1986, only four are still available for sale. The other fifty-six books are sold out. A complete list of books is available at the Press.
With 60 diverse and eloquent student-produced books under her belt, Kitty Maryatt retired at the end of 2015/16 academic year. During the summer of 2016, Tia Blassingame took over directorship of Scripps College Press. She aims to honor the rich history of the Press while looking toward the future.