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John Fass collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: CSC-0061

Scope and Contents

The John Fass Collection contains six series: Slides, Negatives, Photographs, Photo Albums, Prints, and Storage. Series I: Slides contains mostly 35mm color transparency slides documenting his printing presses, family, friends, New York City, Lancaster County, nature and landscapes. It also contains a small box of metal slides.

Series II: Negatives is compromised of glass plates and negatives that document family, friends, European travel, landscape, architectural scences, and Fass' birthplace.

Series III: Photographs is organized into two subseries; black and white photographs and assorted photographs. Each subseries is then arranged by subject, such as New York City, Boston, Western United States, Canadian Rockies, and Portraits of Japanese Women. Assorted photographs also contains photos by A. Burton Carnes.

Series IV: Photo Albums, contains five albums put together by Fass containing many of the same photographs from Series III.

Series V: Prints, is made up of two prints of leaves.

Series VI: Storage contains the cigar boxes and slide boxes that Fass organized his collection into as well as the mattes he made for his photographs.


  • Creation: 1914 - 1968
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940 - 1968


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

John Stroble Fass was born August 25, 1890, in Lititz, Pennsylvania, the son of David C. and Sarah Stroble Fass. He was a graphic designer as well as a printer of fine press books. He began his printing career at the age of 12, working as an errand boy for a newspaper print shop. After high school, he continued working there as a typesetter. In 1918, Fass moved to Philidelphia to work as a compositor for the Holmes Press. He then moved on to New York City two years later to be a compositor for David Gildea & Company.

In 1925, he left his job at the publishing house of William Edwin Rudge and created his own printing house, Harbor Press. Here they producted limited edition works of famous American writers, gaining attention of influential bibliophiles like members of the Grolier Club and members of the Typophiles.

For a time, Fass lived in a single room apartment at the Bronx YMCA. It was there he created produced some of his most well known work, small editions printed on small handpresses. His first project that he did while at the YMCA he used the name Hell-Box Press. For these works he used miniature wooden printing presses.

The Hammer Creek Press was established in 1950, and was named for Hammer Creek which flowed near his hometown in Pennsylvania. He produced a variety of material from books, leaflets, bookplates, and broadsides, for his own pleasure as well as to gift to friends. He printed these projects with a tabletop Albion press which was made in 1905 that he recieved from his friend, Valenti Angelo. The press continued until the early 1960's when he moved from the Bronx YMCA to Brooklyn.

Photography was always a hobby of Fass. His photographs were for his own pleasure, not for commercial use or exhibition. Throughout his lifetime he captured images of a variety of landscapes and scences with a precisionist eye.

Fass died in 1973 and is buried in the Lilitz Moravian Cemetery.


9.25 Linear Feet (24 document boxes, 2 miniature boxes, 3 oversize boxes)




35mm color transparencies, negatives, photographs, photo albums, and leaf prints comprise the John Fass collection, documenting his life, travels, hobbies, and career.


The collection is arranged into six series; Series I: Slides, Series II: Negatives, Series III: Photographs, Series IV: Photo Albums, Series V: Prints, and Series VI: Cigar Boxes.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The John Fass collection is comprised of materials purchased from Lee Jay Stoltzfus.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Maria Soscia, December 2013.

Finding aid encoded by Megan Moltrup, February 2014.

John Fass collection
Cary Graphic Arts Collection
February 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection Repository

Rochester NY 14623 US
(585) 475-2408