Meriden Gravure Company

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The Meriden Gravure Company was founded in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1888. Driven by the needs of the local silver industry, the company early developed expertise in high quality image reproduction. It perfected the use of the full-tone collotype printing method, and soon attracted business from other clients who required detailed image reproduction, including scientific journals, museums, libraries, and publishers of illustrated books. By the mid-twentieth century, the company was also using offset printing presses, for which it pioneered the use of the fine screened 300-line halftone process for art reproduction and scholarly facsimiles. Through careful quality control, Meriden Gravure achieved a reputation of consistent excellence in printed illustration. The company had a natural counterpart in the Stinehour Press of Lunenberg, Vermont, which was devoted to letterpress printing. The two companies were closely related and often collaborated; Meriden Gravure president E. Harold Hugo, a driving force behind Meriden's success from the late 1920s, had been on Stinehour's Board of Directors since it was founded in the 1950s. Anticipating Hugo's retirement, the companies merged in 1977. Meriden-Stinehour Press maintained operations in both locations through 1989, when it closed the Meriden plant.

From the description of Meriden Gravure Company records, 1895-1990 (bulk 1900-1977). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702185693

The Meriden Gravure Company was founded in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1888 by Charles Parker and James F. Allen, and grew out of an earlier printing endeavor by Parker.

Driven by the needs of the local silver industry, the company early developed an expertise in high quality image reproduction. It perfected the use of the full-tone collotype printing method, and soon attracted business from other clients who required highly detailed image reproduction, including scientific journals, museums, libraries, and publishers of illustrated books. By the mid-twentieth century, the company was also using offset printing presses, for which it pioneered the use of the fine screened 300-line halftone process for art reproduction and scholarly facsimiles. Both reproduction methods were in use through 1967, when the collotype presses were retired. The company first offered color printing in the 1940s. Through careful quality control, including an insistence on photographing directly from the item to be reproduced and using high quality paper, Meriden Gravure achieved a reputation of consistent excellence in printed illustration.

In addition to an extensive list of academic and museum clients, Meriden Gravure enjoyed steady business from the commercial sphere. The General Electric Company was one of its biggest accounts, as was the United States government (the company earned classified status during World War II).

A driving force behind Meriden Gravure's success from the late 1920s on was E. Harold Hugo (1910-1985), who devoted his entire career to the company. After assisting at age fourteen with experiments to improve the collotype process, he remained dedicated to constant improvements in the quality of reproduction. His passion for fine presswork was additionally enhanced by the influence of printer Gregg Anderson, who worked at the company from 1932 to 1935. Hugo was, by all accounts, an inspired company director and its most energetic salesman. While he never finished college, his expertise and advocacy of fine printing earned him numerous honorary degrees, including an M.A. from Yale in 1963.

The Meriden Gravure Company had a natural counterpart in the Stinehour Press of Lunenberg, Vermont, which was devoted to high quality letterpress printing. The two companies were closely related and often collaborated; Hugo had been on Stinehour's Board of Directors since it was founded in the 1950s. Anticipating Hugo's retirement, the companies merged in 1977. Meriden-Stinehour Press maintained operations in both locations through 1989, when it closed the Meriden operation and moved the presses to Vermont.

Administrative Timeline: 1888 Meriden Gravure Company founded, Meriden, Connecticut 1890 James F. Allen begins as President 1924 Everett Harold Hugo begins work at MGC while in high school 1928 James F. Allen dies; his son Parker Allen becomes President; Hugo drops out of Northeastern University to help run the company 1942-1945 Parker Allen serves in armed forces; Hugo becomes Manager 1943 Hugo becomes Vice President 1962 Hugo becomes President 1975 John Peckham becomes President; Hugo becomes Vice Chairman 1977 MGC merges with Stinehour Press, becoming Meriden-Stinehour Press. Hugo is Chair of the Board 1989 Meriden facility is closed, all operations move to Lunenberg, Vermont

The following works were consulted in preparing this summary: Peckham, John F. Adventures in printing : a talk on the career of Harold Hugo given at the Club of Odd Volumes . Lunenburg, VT : Stinehour Press, [1995?]. Walker, Gay, Harold Hugo & the Meriden Gravure Company . Wilsonville, Or. : G. Walker, 1995.

From the guide to the Meriden Gravure Company records, 1895-1990, 1900-1977, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Capitaine du Chesnoy, Michel, 1746-1804. Carte de la campagne en Virginie du Major Général Mis. de la Fayette ou se trouvent le campe et marches ainsy que ceux du Lieutent. Général Lord Cornwallis en 1781 / par le Major Capitaine A. d. C. du Gl. la Fayette. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
creatorOf Whitehill, Walter Muir, 1905-1978. [Letter], 3 Feb. 1941, [to] P.B. Allen, Meriden, Conn. / Walter Muir Whitehill. Boston Athenaeum
creatorOf Alsop, John. A map of all Friends meetings belonging to the yearly meeting of Rhode Island, with their course or lying & distance from each other : Drawn in the year 1782 / John Alsop. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
creatorOf A.M. Collins Manufacturing Company. Trade catalogs of printers' supplies, 1920-1964. University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
referencedIn Papers, 1853-2005 (inclusive), 1939-2003 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Meriden Gravure Company records, 1895-1990, 1900-1977 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Brooks, John H. Records of John H. Brooks, 1968-2007. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, The Clark
creatorOf Meriden Gravure Company. Meriden Gravure Company records, 1895-1990 (bulk 1900-1977). Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Ryder, Robert, d. 1681. Long Island sirvaide / by Robartte Ryder. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
creatorOf Meriden Gravure Company. Meriden Gravure Company Collection, ca. 1964-1971. University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allen, James F. person
associatedWith Allen, James F. person
associatedWith Allen, Parker B. person
associatedWith Alsop, John. person
associatedWith Anderson, Gregg, 1908-1944. person
associatedWith Brooks, John H. person
associatedWith Capitaine du Chesnoy, Michel, 1746-1804. person
correspondedWith Eccles, Mary Hyde. person
associatedWith Hugo, Harold. person
associatedWith Hugo, Harold. person
associatedWith Meriden-Stinehour Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Peckham, John Ford, 1918- person
associatedWith Ryder, Robert, d. 1681. person
associatedWith Whitehill, Walter Muir, 1905-1978. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Connecticut--Meriden
Connecticut--Meriden
United States
Connecticut
Subject
Printingindustry--Connecticut--Meriden
Printing industry--United States
Printing
Publishers and publishing--History--20th century
Collotype
Printing--Connecticut--Meriden
Printers
Printing industry
Printers--Connecticut--Meriden
Photomechanical processes
Offset printing
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1968

Active 2007

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