Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Getting Back to Knopf

Imagine establishing yourself in business in rural Vermont as a commercial printer dedicated to impeccable design and the craft of book making and getting a letter like this. Alfred Knopf, at the time the most distinguished publisher in America, and a man who revolutionized the look and feel of trade books, personally taking the time to scold you for failing to follow through after a meeting with his production manager.  But Roderick "Rocky" Stinehour '50, managed to make the most of the situation. His reply convinced Knopf to send a job his way.

It is always a bit of a shock to learn about a small company obsessive over a pursuit that seems like something out of the past—a craftsperson's obsession—that is able to turn a profit and keep up to forty people gainfully employed at any given time. Stinehour Press evolved out of a small commercial printing operation that served a community. After Rocky's introduction to printing he came to Dartmouth and trained in design. His great contribution was an unfailing belief that good design and attention to detail could be done economically and that good design did not need to be sacrificed for profit. Alfred Knopf had expressed a similar idea years earlier, when he said that a well-printed and well-designed book could be produced almost as inexpensively as most commercial books. The Stinehour Press carried that theory through five decades of quality printing and design including this work for Knopf.

To learn more about Rocky and his legacy, come hear David Godine '66, on Thursday, April 11 at 4:00 in Baker Library.  There is also an exhibit in the Baker Library Main Hall, Designed and Printed at Stinehour Press, that is on display through May 31st.


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