Cary, Melbert Brinckerhoff, 1892-1941

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Melbert Brinkerhoff Cary Jr. (1892-1941) was born in New York, educated at Groton School and Yale University (Class of 1916), and died in New York. He was director of Continental Type Founders Association, president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and proprietor of the private Press of the Woolly Whale.

From the description of Melbert B. Cary Jr. collection, 1895-1986. (RIT Library). WorldCat record id: 746849993

Frederic W. Goudy founded the Village Press in Park Ridge, Ill. in 1903 with Will Ransom as partner. Within the year Ransom left, and his role was filled by Bertha M. Goudy (1869-1935), who subsequently did most of the composition for the press. Cary acquired the press's earliest products, including numerous proofs and designs, from Ransom, which include his meticulous notes. The press's moves document Goudy's increasingly central position in American typography and printing: Park Ridge, Illinois (1903-1904); Hingham, Massachusetts (1904-1906); New York City, New York (1906-1913); Forest Hills Gardens, New York (1913-1923) and Marlborough, New York (1923-1941). From Marlborough, Goudy worked on type and book designs, printed a few items, and wrote articles. With the death of his wife Bertha in 1935, the output of the Press declined and Goudy threw himself into type designing in order to reach 100 designs, while speaking and writing about typography. Many of the collection's celebratory keepsakes might be read in light of Fred Goudy's loneliness after the death of his wife. Two disastrous fires injured Goudy's fortunes. First, in New York on January 10, 1908, the Parker Building fire in which the Village Press lost all its equipment and stock, except for the Village Type matrices (see BVP, p. 89-93), and second at Deepdene in Marlborough, New York, in 1939, in which his workshop burned, and those parts not lost to fire, fell into a creek. (Most of these items went either to the Library of Congress by purchase from Goudy in 1944, or to the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology by purchase from Goudy's successor). Subsequently, Goudy continued with fewer designs and talks, until his death in 1947.

Collector, businessman and publisher Melbert Brinckerhoff Cary, Jr., was born on November 28, 1892 in New York. He was educated at Groton and then attended Yale (class of 1916). After a brief stint in the Connecticut National Guard, in 1915, on the Mexican border, he was mustered into service in the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. He served in France from March 1917 as Captain of Field Artillery, until his discharge in April 1919. On his return, he entered into business, first worker for an import-export company (1919-1920), and then in foreign sales for the Remington Typewriter Co. (1920-1925?). In 1925 he established Continental Typefounder Association, an importer of then-contemporary European typefaces. Cary's interest in printing began as a IV term student at Groton, where he learned all parts of the hand printer's job and became the school's printer (see Carl Purington Rollins's 1943 essay, published in Melbert B. Cary, Jr. and the Press of the Woolly Whale, Rochester: Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2002). Goudy became affiliated with Melbert B. Cary through their mutual interest in type. Cary, whose marriage to heiress Mary Flagler, now found sufficient money and leisure to found his own private press, Press of the Woolly Whale, and to start a type importing firm, Continental Typefounders Association, which brought the latest French and German type styles to the United States. In 1927 Goudy became formally affiliated with Continental Typefounders as Vice President. By May 1929, Cary was collecting Goudyana in sufficient quantity as to attract notice, as evidenced by an inscription from Will H. Ransom after their first meeting, on a copy of "Books for sale" (Village Press circular no. 4) "To Melbert B. Cary. Jr. Recording a happy meeting and a new friendship. Will Ransom. Chicago, May 24, 1929" (BVP 11, copy 2).

In 1933, in honor of the thirty-third anniversary of the Village Press, Cary organized an exhibition of its imprints with the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The AIGA exhibition was a watershed for Cary's collecting. Based on accession dates, which Cary noted on front endpapers, and on other correspondence, he used the show to acquire or borrow many "lost" items, while the publicity seems to have attracted additional items both before and after (see, for example, the correspondence with Edmund G. Gress, publisher of the Inland Printer, or the loan of Will Ransom's Village Press materials). After Cary's death in 1941, the collection was donated to the Grolier Club in at least two accessions. Many items have original bookplates and accession numbers from that period. A copy of the original estate inventory is included with the collection.

From the description of Melbert B. Cary, Jr. collection of Goudyana, ca. 1929-1941. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 85217390

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Brianville, Claude Oronce Finé de, d. 1675. Giuoco d'arme delli sovrani : e delli stati d'Europa per apprender l'arme, la geografia, e l'istoria loro curiosa, [ca. 1693?]. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Grolier Club. Library. Records of the librarians, 1897-1970. Grolier Club
referencedIn Continental Typefounders Association, Inc. Scrapbooks, 1925-1936. RIT Library, Wallace Library
creatorOf Cary, Melbert Brinkerhoff, 1892-1941. Kansas geological field photographs, [ca. 1920]. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Grabhorn Press records, 1917-1973 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Cary, Melbert B. (Melbert Brinckerhoff), 1892-1941. Melbert B. Cary Jr. collection, 1895-1986. RIT Library, Wallace Library
creatorOf Cary, Melbert Brinckerhoff, 1892-1941,. Melbert B. Cary, Jr. collection of Goudyana, ca. 1929-1941. Grolier Club
referencedIn Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. W. A. Dwiggins records, 1937-[ca. 1951]. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Carteret Book Club. Records, [ca. 1902-1958]. Grolier Club
creatorOf Melbert Brinckerhoff Cary letter to Charles Allen Smart, 1928 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Press of the Woolly Whale. Visitors' book, 1928-1941. RIT Library, Wallace Library
referencedIn Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust records, 1897-2010 (inclusive), 1968-2009 (bulk). RIT Library, Wallace Library
creatorOf Cary, Melbert Brinckerhoff, 1892-1941. Letter, 1937 June 2, New York, to Edward Larocque Tinker, New York, N.Y. University Club Library
creatorOf Grabhorn Press. Grabhorn Press records, 1917-1973. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Kredel, Fritz, 1900-1973. Fritz Kredel collection, 1915-1973. Yale University Library
referencedIn Press of the Woolly Whale. Press of the Woolly Whale collection, 1928-1972 (inclusive), 1928-1941 (bulk) RIT Library, Wallace Library
referencedIn Pont, Charles E. (Charles Ernest), 1898-1971. Charles E. Pont papers on Frederic W. Goudy, 1887-1972 (inclusive), 1935-1953 (bulk) RIT Library, Wallace Library
creatorOf Avshalomov, Aaron, 1894-1965. Autograph letter signed, dated : Shanghai, 27 August 1934, to Mr. [Melbert Brinkerhoff] Cary, 1934, 27 August. Pierpont Morgan Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Avshalomov, Aaron, 1894-1965. person
associatedWith Brianville, Claude Oronce Finé de, d. 1675. person
correspondedWith Carteret Book Club. corporateBody
associatedWith Cary, Julia Metcalf, 1856-1930. person
associatedWith Cary, Mary Flagler. person
associatedWith Cary, Melbert B. (Melbert Brinckerhoff), b. 1852. person
associatedWith Connecticut. corporateBody
associatedWith Continental Typefounders Association, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Dwiggins, W. A. (William Addison), 1880-1956. person
associatedWith Goudy, Bertha, 1869-1935. person
associatedWith Goudy, Frederic W. (Frederic William), 1865-1947. person
associatedWith Grabhorn Press. corporateBody
correspondedWith Grolier Club. Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Kredel, Fritz, 1900-1973 person
associatedWith Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. corporateBody
associatedWith Müller, Hans Alexander, 1888-1962. person
associatedWith Pont, Charles E. (Charles Ernest), 1898-1971. person
associatedWith Press of the Woolly Whale. corporateBody
associatedWith Rushmore, Arthur W., 1883-1955. person
associatedWith Tinker, Edward Larocque, 1881-1968. person
associatedWith Typophiles (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Village Press. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
New York--New York
United States
Ottawa County (Kan.)
Graphic arts--20th century
Type and type-founding--20th century
Playing cards--Private collections
Printing--20th century
Publishers and Publishing
Type designers--20th century.--United States
Printers--20th century.--United States


Birth 1892-11-28

Death 1941






Ark ID: w6h99cgt

SNAC ID: 31680177