Press of the Woolly Whale Collection
Scope and Contents
The Press of the Woolly Whale collection primarily consists of ephemera issued by the Press of the Woolly Whale between 1928 and 1941, including prospectuses, booklets, invitations, broadsides, holiday cards, labels, certificates, programs, etc., most of which were drawn from the stock of the press when it was donated in 1969 to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University; books printed by the press were also received but were cataloged separately. The collection is organized into two series: I. Publications and Production Files; and II. Other Papers. Series I, Publications and Production Files, is arranged according to David Pankow’s bibliography in Melbert B. Cary, Jr. and the Press of the Woolly Whale (Rochester, 2002); the publications were listed chronologically, with ephemera following the major titles in each year. Accompanying some of the publications are production files kept by George Van Vechten Jr., the printer at the Press of the Woolly Whale. These files may include original and carbon typescripts, paper samples, title page designs, dummies, page proofs, corrected galleys, notes, receipts, and some correspondence with Cary, Frederic Goudy, and others. Some files also contain original drawings by Alban B. Butler, Warren Chappell, and Fritz Kredel; number 58, The Treasure in the Forest, has two original gouache paintings by W.A. Dwiggins, as well as a set of stencils he used to create one of the illustrations. Filed at the end of the series is a range of ephemera produced for the American Institute of Graphic Arts and National Orchestral Association. Mary Flagler Cary (Mrs. Melbert B. Cary Jr.) was president of the latter organization, and those items were not individually listed in Pankow’s bibliography. Series II, Other Papers, contains copies of the Buffalo and Rochester exhibition catalogs, obituaries for George Van Vechten Jr., a holiday card from Paul Wescott with a trade sign design for the press, and notes made by Mary Flagler Cary about press publications. Folders 175–178 were added to the collection in February 2013, as letters from Warren Chappell to Melbert B. Cary about Woolly Whale business had been found in another RIT Cary Collection location.
- Creation: 1928-1972
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1928 - 1941
- American Institute of Graphic Arts (Organization)
- Goudy, Frederic W. (Frederic William) (Person)
- National Orchestral Association (U.S.) (Organization)
- Dwiggins, William Addison (W.A.) (Person)
- Kredel, Fritz (Person)
- Butler, Alban B. ((Alban Bernard)) (Person)
- Chappell, Warren (Person)
- Cary, Mary Flagler (Person)
- Cary, Melbert Brinckerhoff (Person)
- Van Vechten, George (Person)
- Press of the Woolly Whale (Organization)
Language of Materials
Majority in English, some in German.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open to researchers.
Biographical / Historical
The Press of the Woolly Whale was founded by Melbert B. Cary Jr. (1892-1941), a New York businessman and prominent figure in the fields of typography and private printing during the second quarter of the twentieth century. The press was in operation in New York City between 1928 and 1941 and produced limited edition volumes, works related to printing and typography, and a variety of ephemera that reflected the interests, professional relationships, and humor of Cary and his friends. Two exhibitions profiled the press’s achievements: at the Grosvenor Library (now Buffalo and Erie County Public Library) in 1939, and Rochester Institute of Technology in 1972; the catalogs from those exhibitions contained bibliographies which were superseded by the press checklist published in Melbert B. Cary, Jr. and the Press of the Woolly Whale (Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2002). George W. Van Vechten Jr., the printer at the Press of the Woolly Whale, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, attended Carnegie Institute of Technology, and died in Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1962, at age 55. He produced private and limited edition works for thirty-five years with Frederic W. Goudy at the Village Press, with Melbert B. Cary Jr. at the Press of the Woolly Whale, and from 1941 to 1962 at his own Van Vechten Press in Metuchen. Van Vechten’s production files for certain of the Woolly Whale publications were acquired from the Chiswick Book Shop in 1972.
3 Linear Feet (9 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize box)
The Press of the Woolly Whale Collection primarily consists of ephemera issued by the Press of the Woolly Whale between 1928 and 1941, including prospectuses, booklets, invitations, broadsides, holiday cards, certificates, and programs, among other items.
Press of the Woolly Whale Collection is arranged chronologically by Pankow bibliography numer within Series I; and chronologically within Series II.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, 1969; purchases from Chiswick Bookshop, 1972; gifts from Judith Kredel Brown, Jerry Kelly, Robert L. Leslie, Mrs. L. Lee Stanton, and others.
Four folders of letters from Warren Chappell to Melbert B. Cary regarding Press of the Wolly Whale business were added to the collection from the Cary Collection's Ephemera Collection in 2013.
- D. Pankow et al. "Melbert B. Cary, Jr. and the Press of the Woolly Whale," Rochester, NY: RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2002.
The Press of the Woolly Whale Collection is the physical property of the Melbert B. Cary Jr. Graphic Arts Collection, Rochester Institute of Technology Libraries. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.
Collection processed by Sandra Markam, 2010.
Finding aid encoded by Amelia Hugill-Fontanel, May 2013.
- Press of the Woolly Whale Collection
- Ready To Publish
- Sandra Markham
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note