Blumenthal, Joseph

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BLUMENTHAL, JOSEPH (1897–1990), U.S. printer and type designer. Born in New York, Blumenthal founded the Spiral Press in New York City in 1926. For more than 50 years it was acknowledged as producing the finest in American printing, setting standards for dedication to detail and design.

Blumenthal designed his own typeface, Emerson, which was available for hand and machine setting for commercial book composition. At the modern, well-equipped but small Spiral Press, Blumenthal designed and produced books and exhibition catalogs for such institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the Grolier Club, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as limited editions such as Ben *Shahn's Alphabet of Creation for general book publishers. He also designed and printed the books of such luminaries as Robert Frost, W.H. Auden, Pablo Neruda, William Carlos Williams, Robinson Jeffers, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In 1952 Blumenthal was awarded a medal by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. In his later years he prepared a series of exhibitions on fine printing in America and Europe. He also wrote and taught, sharing his lifelong passion for the book, which he regarded as the vehicle for cultural heritage.

In his illustrated autobiography, Typographic Years: A Printer's Journey Through a Half Century 1925–1975, written in 1982, Blumenthal presents a vivid account of his life in the realm of fine printing from a personal, professional, and historical perspective. Other books by Blumenthal include The Spiral Press through Four Decades, an Exhibition of Books and Ephemera (1966), The Printed Book in America (1977), Art of the Printed Book, 1455–1955: Masterpieces of Typography through Five Centuries from the Collections of the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (1974), Robert Frost and His Printers (1985), and Bruce Rogers: A Life in Letters, 1870–1957 (1989).

add. bibliography:

P.N. Cronenwett, The Spiral Press, 1926–1971: A Bibliographical Checklist (2002).

[Israel Soifer /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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