"Colophon" Editing Team

Don Freeman (1908-1978), [Colophon editing team], 1939. Gouache. Graphic Arts Collection, GC049 Pynson Printers



“This is how the Colophon came to be,” wrote John T. Winterich, “Sometime in 1928 … I got into correspondence Vrest Orton, then advertising manger of the Saturday Review of Literature, about some bibliographical crux … Orton said there ought to be some sort of periodical for book collectors in which problems of this sort could be threshed out, and I agreed heartily. He said he thought he might lay the idea before Bennett Cerf … and Bennett told Vrest that Elmer Adler would be a good man to see about an idea like that.”

“Alfred Stanford joined us, and then Fred Adams… . These are all the active editors there ever were over a ten-year period: Vrest, Elmer, Burton [Emmett], Al, Fred, myself.”

“Elmer was never created editor of the Colophon, either by election or flat; it seemed to be assumed that, as we who were associated in the enterprise were, so to speak, his every-Tuesday house guests (or rather shop guests), the Colophon was his show.”

The editorial team for the Colophon: A Book Collectors’ Quarterly, which ran from February 1930-February 1940, met each Tuesday in the offices of Pynson Printers in the New York Times Annex on 43rd Street. When Adler accepted a job at Princeton University and began closing his press in 1939, the artist Don Freeman (1908-1978) came by to document their meetings with a portrait painting. A linocut, dated August 8, 1939, was published in the Colophon in 1940 and later, in the festschrift Elmer Adler in the World of Books (1964). Freeman’s painting, done in gouache, is held in Graphic Arts.

Included in the painting (from the left) are Fred B. Adams Jr., Elmer Adler, Alfred Stanford, and John T. Winterich. The calendar in the painting is dated September 10. At the back of the print, looking around the corner, is Adler’s secretary/assistant Miss Greenberg.