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UD Special Collections > Finding Aids > John DePol Papers Index > Series Outline
JOHN DePOL PAPERS
1837 – 2004
(bulk dates 1935-2001)
Manuscript Collection Number 297
Accessioned: Various gifts and purchases.
Extent: 51 linear ft. and oversize materials
Content: Correspondence, greeting cards, books, pamphlets, brochures, proofs, clippings, flyers, broadsides, programs, keepsakes, wood engravings, wood blocks, photographs, and posters.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 2003-2004 by Anita A. Wellner and Theresa Hessey.
Table of Contents
and engraver John DePol was born in 1913 in
first venture into printmaking began on
1943 to 1945, DePol served in the United States Army Air Force, and while on
Between January 1944 and his honorable discharge from the service in 1945, DePol was also stationed at Chipping Ongar in England and later sent to France and Germany as an Intelligence Specialist with the Headquarters 2nd Air Disarmament Wing. DePol continued to sketch as he traveled and many scenes from his journeys were later developed as etchings or wood engravings.
After being discharged from the service, DePol returned to work on Wall Street as a statistical clerk for the Adams Express Company. Continuing his avocation, DePol sketched, etched and printed in off-hours. In 1947, DePol turned his interest from etching to wood engraving, which he taught himself. In 1950, DePol approached the Devin-Adair Co. seeking to illustrate a book for them. His portfolio of “Irish etching” was surely the prompt for his hiring. As a result he illustrated his first book, Liam O’Flaherty’s Two Lovely Beasts and Other Stories and years later a James Plunkett’s The Trusting and the Maimed and Other Irish Stories.
In June 1949, DePol was hired by Lewis White as a production assistant for L. F. White Company, where he learned the art of printing. It was here in 1951 that DePol printed Places & Things, the first issue of his own private press imprint, Endgrain Press. Through White, DePol had the opportunity to create wood engravings for publications issued by The Typophiles and to develop friendships among these noted printers, including Ben Grauer and John Fass. During this time DePol’s work attracted notice and he engaged in independent work decorating private-press booklets, separate prints, broadsides, and limited edition books. Also through Lew White, who designed the first Ben Franklin keepsake in 1953, DePol became the illustrator for a series which produced 30 keepsakes. DePol’s engravings illustrated all 30, as well as the commemorative Thirty, published in 1987.
After L. F. White was sold in 1953 and succeeded by Clarke & Way (The Thistle Press), DePol continued to work for the new management, but after a year he chose to begin a freelance business as an engraver. His work designing pieces for Security-Columbian Banknote Company (later United States Banknote Corporation and Pandick Press) earned him a position at the company, which he kept until his retirement in 1978. While working there, DePol produced a series of keepsakes which feature his engravings.
Through the years DePol collaborated with numerous private press printers, including John Fass (Hammer Creek Press), John Anderson (Pickering Press), Robert M. Jones (Glad Hand Press), Arthur Rushmore (Golden Hind Press), Lewis and Dorothy Allen (Allen Press), Morris Gelfand (The Stone House Press), Neil Shaver (Yellow Barn Press), and many others. He has illustrated books and broadsides, created press marks, and created keepsakes.
his retirement in 1978, DePol continued to devote even more time to his career
as wood engraver, working for private presses, institutions, and
individuals. He has also taught courses
on wood engraving and occasionally lectured.
His work is part of the permanent collections of libraries and museums
DePol has been honored for his work by his colleagues. He was named an Associate of the National
Academy of Design in 1954 and in 1980 to the New York Printers Wall of
Fame. He has been made an honorary
member of The Rowfant Club and The Typophiles, Inc. and in 1994 a festschrift, John DePol: A Celebration of His Work,
was published and presented at a reception at the Pierpont Morgan Library in
DePol, John. Ireland
Remembered : a GI's Recollections.
DePol: A Celebration of His Work by Many Hands.
Howard and Eleanor Friedl (eds.) John DePol: a Catalogue Raisonne of His
Graphic Work 1935-1998.
(ed.) Five Decades of the Burin: The Wood
Engravings of John DePol.
Scope and Content Note
The John DePol Papers document a remarkable artistic life and the career of arguably the most renowned American wood engraver of the twentieth century. Over 51 linear feet of personal papers and an additional extensive book collection trace the evolution of John DePol’s craft from his early experiments in lithography during his military service in Ireland, England, and Europe, to his apprentice years with Lewis White Company, on through his prolific career as a wood engraver for commercial firms and fine press printers which continued into the twenty-first century. During this period John DePol has collaborated with some of the most important individuals in the world of printing, including Lewis and Dorothy Allen (The Allen Press), John Anderson (The Pickering Press), John Fass (Hammer Creek Press), the Typophiles, Arthur Rushmore (The Golden Hind Press), Robert M. Jones (Glad Hand Press), Barnard Taylor (Press of Appletree Alley), Steve Miller (Red Ozier Press), Morris A. Gelfand (The Stone House Press), Jan and Crispin Elsted (Barbarian Press), Neil Shaver (Yellow Barn Press), and a host of others. During his long career DePol also continued to produce commercial work, keepsakes, invitations, booklets, and illustrations for countless magazines, corporations, publishers, foundations, and academic institutions.
John DePol maintained meticulous records of his commissions as well as his own independent work, and his papers contain virtually all of his correspondence and memoranda relating to jobs, contractual material, preliminary renderings and sketches, photographs, proof material, examples of the final printed work, original woodblocks, and files, relating to all the artists, printers, and publishers with whom he has worked. In addition to the above individuals, the John DePol Papers include material shedding light on such figures as Valenti Angelo, Harold Berliner, Lester Douglas, Gabriel Rummonds, Douglass Morse Howell, Benjamin Grauer, Fridolf Johnson, J. Ben Lieberman, Bernard Brussel-Smith, and his early employer, Lewis F. White.
One of the largest and most important groups of papers documents the long, productive collaboration between DePol and John Anderson of the Pickering Press. DePol and Anderson worked together for nearly forty years producing numerous pamphlets, chapbooks, broadsides, keepsakes, Christmas cards, letterheads, and ephemera, all of which are represented in the John DePol Papers.
John DePol has also been a dedicated student and collector in the history and craft of printing and his papers include a wealth of material relating to these interests, including books from his personal library, original prints, and artwork. Of particular note are original letters, photographs, and documents pertaining to Frederic Goudy, Bruce Rogers, and other important figures in twentieth-century printing.
The John DePol Papers are a major addition to the University of Delaware Library’s archival holdings on the history of printing and an important complement to such existing collections as the archives of the Pickering Press, the Bird & Bull Press, the Pentagram Press, the Plough Press, the of Press of A. Colish, Peter Koch and the Blackstone Press, the Angelica and Amity Press, and Oak Knoll Books; the papers of J. Ben Lieberman and Fridolf Johnson; and significant archival holdings centering around Paul A. Bennett, Lester Douglas, Frederic Goudy, and Arthur Rushmore.
The John DePol Papers provide a treasure trove of primary research materials for students and scholars of twentieth century printing and the book arts.
*Written by Timothy D. Murray, Head, Special Collections,
Series I. Work by John DePol, 1931-1997
1. Early Artwork, 1931-1967
2. Etched copper & zinc plates, 1936-1947
3. Etchings, 1935-1996
4. Woodcuts, 1947-1949
5. Miscellaneous drawings and lettering, 1937-1986
6. Wood engravings, 1947-1997
7. Woodblocks, 1952-1997
Series II. John DePol working files, 1896-2001
Series III. John Anderson Collection, 1925-1999
1. Correspondence, 1944-1987
2. Bantam Press, 1932-1943
4. Associations, 1942-1959
5. Workshops, 1930-1985
6. Type Distributors, n.d.
7. Miscellaneous, 1925-1999
Series IV. Material related to printing, 1935-1999
Series V. Videocassette recordings related to John DePol, 1930-1997
Series VI. Photographs, 1931-2000
Series VII. John DePol’s Personal Papers, 1837-2000
1. Identification documents, 1931-1955
2. Correspondence, 1933-2000
3. DePol’s Christmas cards, 1945-1999
4. Financial papers, 1937-1946
5. Journals and notes, 1935-1996
6. Material related to DePol’s Military Service, 1943-1996
7. European Travel, 1947-1948
8. Honors and Awards, 1970
9. Birthday keepsakes, 1988-1998
10. Exhibition announcements and clippings, 1946-1947
11. Miscellaneous Personal Material, 1942-1964
12. Printed material, 1837-1999
13. Collection of engravings related to the U. S. Navy, n.d.
Bibliography: Available in repository.