A History Set in Type

The original Press

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.

Christy Bertelson (center), demonstrates the "hand printing process" for co-host Mary Armantrout and host George Fenneman, on KNBC and Channel 4's 'On Campus.'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.

Eager students are encouraged to continue their bookworks in an independent study course. Frequently an art major will concentrate on an artist’s book for her senior project. Professor Maryatt also accepts independent study projects in type design, book structures, calligraphy and artist’s books.

Professor Maryatt and the students have produced more than 50 books since the Press reorganized in 1986. Book projects include 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. We also published DOROTHY DRAKE and the SCRIPPS COLLEGE PRESS, written by Special Collections Librarian Judy Harvey Sahak, recounting the beginnings of the Press. Our first place award-winning Mutatis Mutandis is a book about change, and Clockwork is a book inspired by the theme of time. These books are for sale; but editions do sell out quickly, as we have 45 standing order patrons. A complete list of books is available at the Press.