DE VINNE, THEODORE LOW. Papers, ca. 1857-1931
<-- Back Print 

Guide to the Theodore Low De Vinne Papers, 1857-1931

Theodore Low De Vinne Papers, 1857-1931

 OCLC No.:


13 linear feet (13 boxes)

This collection consists of correspondence and legal documents regarding De Vinne’s early business partnership with Francis Hart, as well as De Vinne’s personal memorabilia and books.

Access Restrictions:
Collection is open for research use. Copyright restrictions may apply; please contact repository for requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce the materials.

Preferred Citation:
[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Theodore Low De Vinne Papers, 1857-1931, The Grolier Club of New York.

About the Finding Aid:
This finding aid was prepared by Club member Irene Tichenor in Microsoft Word at the Grolier Club in February, 2010, with revisions by Club archivists Rachel Greer in July, 2014 and Allison Hughes in November, 2017.

This collection was donated to Choate Rosemary Hall in 1975 by Charles DeVinne (Choate 1943) and Theodore DeVinne (Choate 1948), grandsons of Theodore Low De Vinne. Jane De Vinne, Charles’ wife, was Rosemary Hall Alumnae Director at the time of the gift. In 1986, the Grolier Club received The Theodore Low De Vinne Memorabilia Collection, 1850-1914, from the De Vinne family. This prompted discussions with Choate Rosemary Hall about consolidating the De Vinne collection at the Grolier Club. In 2010, through the intercession of De Vinne biographer and Grolier Club member Irene Tichenor, Choate Rosemary Hall and the Grolier Club agreed that the collection, in its entirety, should reside with the Grolier Club. The collection was formally transferred as a Gift of the Andrew Mellon Library, Choate Rosemary Hall School (Wallingford, CT), in February 2010.

Access Points:
De Vinne, Theodore Low, 1828-1914.
Hart, Francis, 1815-1877.
De Vinne Press.

Printing industry--New York (State)--New York--19th century.
Printing industry--New York (State)--New York--20th century.
Printers--New York (State)--New York--19th century.
Printers--New York (State)--New York--20th century.

Biographical Note:
Theodore Low De Vinne (1828-1914) was apprenticed to the printer's trade in Newburgh, NY and came to New York City in 1848, where he eventually became a partner in the shop of Francis Hart. Upon Hart’s death in 1877, De Vinne became owner of the business, which eventually became known as the De Vinne Press. He was recognized as a master printer and developed a comprehensive knowledge of the history of typography, which he distilled in several publications. He was a founder and president (1904-1906) of the Grolier Club and printed most of its early publications.  He was one of the original honorary members of the Elizabethan Club at Yale.  Active in the affairs on printer's organizations, De Vinne was also a founder of the Typothet’ of New York City and of the United Typothet' of America, working in these organizations to make printing a profitable craft and to establish good relations between owners and employees.

Scope and Content Note:
This collection includes fifty-five letters and legal documents from De Vinne, Francis Hart, and others regarding De Vinne’s early business partnership with Hart, the dissolution of Hart's estate (ca. 1877-1881) and De Vinne’s assumption of full proprietorship of the press, and other business matters. The bulk (36 items) dated between ca. 1857 to 1893, the remainder (19 items) from 1902 to 1931. The collection also includes memorabilia, including: a black graduation hood (perhaps from De Vinne’s Columbia University honorary degree), 11 commemorative medals related to printing and New York City history (ca. 1890s), and four photographs. Also part of the donation were books on printing, book history, and other topics from De Vinne’s personal library or from the collection of the De Vinne Press. Most of the books are cataloged separately.

Arrangement Note:
The archival documents in this collection are arranged chronologically. Artifacts are housed separately from documents. Books have been removed from the collection and catalogued separately, but are listed here as well.

Collection Inventory (Prepared by Irene Tichenor July 2010)
[Note: Theodore Low De Vinne abbreviated TLD throughout.]

Box 1: Correspondence and Other Documents

 1. Holograph, 20 p. Letter from TLD to Francis Hart, outlining his length and type of service and salaries received. Proposes a more formal association.  (1857?)

2.  Legal document of general release from J. M. Kronheim to Francis Hart and Company, Sept. 28, 1857. 1 p.

3. Holograph, 4 p. Legal document of 17 articles establishing the co-partnership of Hart and TLD as Francis Hart & Co., Jan. 1, 1858.

4. Legal bill of sale of Packing Box Manufactory and equipment to TLD, May 8, 1862.

5. Holograph, 8 p. Legal articles (9) of co-partnership between J. M. Kronheim and James Robertson, May 10, 1866. Legal dissolution, Nov. 19, 1866.

6. Holograph, 5 p. Bill of sale of stock and plant of printing office of J. M. Kronheim to Francis Hart, Nov. 19, 1866.

7. Holograph, 8 p. Legal document: agreement between J. M. Kronheim and Francis Hart and TLD (F. Hart & Co.) for sale of Kronheim’s process for preparing metal plates for printing pictures and other designs in colors, Nov. 1886. Agreement cancelled by mutual consent, Sept. 28, 1867.

8. Holograph, 1 p. Letter to TLD regarding mortgage on Jersey City property purchased by TLD, Jan. 10, [1872 or 1874?].

9. Holograph, 1 p. Statement of interest for Francis Hart and TLD from 1858 through June 1872, July 1872.

10. Holograph, 4 p. Letter from TLD reporting on current business. Protests Hart’s entry (without TLD’s knowledge) of an interest item of $5,000 in the ledger, Sept. 22, 1872.

11. Holograph, 4 p. Letter from TLD to Francis Hart reporting on current business affairs, Sept. 29, 1872.

12. Holograph, 3 p. Letter from TLD to Francis Hart refusing his proposal to resolve their financial differences, Sept. 29, 1872.

13. Holograph, 14 p. TLD’s summary of the differences of opinion between TLD and Francis Hart regarding their financial investment in the plant, Oct. 27, 1872.

14. Holograph, 20 p. TLD’s version of the differences of opinion between TLD and Francis Hart regarding their financial investment in the company, 1872.

15. Holograph, 41 p. TLD’s version of the differences of opinion between TLD and Francis Hart regarding their financial investment in the company, 1872.

16. Holograph, 6 p. Letter from TLD to Francis Hart concerning their differing opinions regarding their financial agreements, Oct. 27, 1872.

Holograph, 4 p. Memo, or part of another letter, written to Francis Hart about their financial differences.

17. Holograph, 10 p. Letter from TLD to Francis Hart stating his views regarding their financial differences; refers to articles in co-partnership agreement, Nov. 20, 1872.

18. Holograph, 1 p. Memo from Mr. Hart regarding financial aspects of the co-partnership, Sept. 29, 1873.

19. Holograph, 4 p. Series of questions (probably by TLD) regarding financial aspects of the co-partnership.

20. Holograph, 5 p. Legal opinion from George Wingate on questions pertaining to financial responsibilities of TLD in the co-partnership agreement of Hart and TLD, Oct. 1, 1873.

21. Holograph, 11 p. Legal document: agreement of co-partnership between TLD and Francis Hart, 15 articles in the agreement; the resulting company was to be known as Francis Hart and Company, Jan. 1, 1874.

22. Holograph, 15 p. Memorandum prepared by TLD for Surrogate Court concerning the accounting of the estate of Francis Hart.

23. Holograph, 4 p. Memo concerning the assessment of $5,000 on the estate of Francis Hart.

24. Holograph, 6 p. Legal document: agreement between TLD and the executors of the Estate of Francis Hart; six articles of agreement, setting forth terms by which TLD, the surviving partner of Francis Hart & Co. will assume control of the entire company, Nov. 7, 1877.

25. May 10, 1879. (a) Legal document: mortgage between Theodore L. and Grace De Vinne and Thomas Hart, Almira Hart and Robert Brown, Executors of the Estate of Francis Hart; mortgage was duly discharged on April 3, 1883.

(b) Legal document: bond for $6,000 given by TLD to the executors of the estate of Francis Hart; bond was duly discharged on April 2, 1883.

 26. Will of Alice Deall, 1880. Invalid because it was superseded by a 1909 will.

27. April 9, 1880. (a) Legal document: bond given by TLD, David Bruce and Sheldon Collins to the executors of the estate of Francis Hart for $40,000; names of David Bruce and Sheldon Collins were removed on Dec. 6, 1882.

(b) Legal document: agreement between TLD and the Executors of the Estate of Francis Hart that when the provisions of the will of Francis Hart are met, title to all interests of Francis Hart will go to Theodore L. De Vine.

28. Memorandum of agreement between Thomas Rianhard and TLD, Thomas Hart, Robert Brown and Almira Hart as executors of the last will and testament of Francis Hart made in Nov. 1878; agreement dealt with type and other personal property of the McKillop and Sprague Company which was in the possession of the executors, Jan. 28, 1881.

29. Holograph, 1 p. Paper of conveyance of one twenty-fifth part of the profits from the printing business to TLD’s son, Theodore Brockbank De Vinne, Feb. 1, 1882.

30. Holograph, 2 p. Co-partnership agreement between TLD and Theodore Brockbank De Vinne, Jan. 1, 1883.

31. Legal document: satisfaction of mortgage from Robert Brown, executor of Francis Hart estate, April 2, 1883.

32. Legal document: statement of release by executors of the Francis Hart Estate to TLD, March 31, 1884.

33. Holograph, 2 p. Memorandum by TLD on an undesignated sale of a business, undated.

34. Agreement of sale of the property accounts and assets of the New York Typesetting Company to TLD, July 21, 1892.

35. Legal document: certified copy of final settlement of the estate of Daniel De Vinne by TLD, executor, April 8, 1893.

36. Legal document: certified copy of final settlement of the estate of Joanna Augusta De Vinne by TLD, executor, April 8, 1893.

37. American Type Founders Company stock receipts from TLD, nos. 247, 261, 161, 431, and 435, March-April 1902.

38. Certificates of deposit, April 30, 1909; 100 shares of Knollwood Cemetery #76; 670 gold bonds of Knollwood Cemetery #98 ($500); and 670 Gold Bonds of Knollwood Cemetery #99 ($500).

39. Bulletin of the United Typothetae and Franklin Clubs of America, Vol. 7, No. 9, March 1914, announcing death of TLD (approx. 4x10”, printed both sides).

40. Accountant’s report, 5 p., on TLD’s interest in the De Vinne Press, July 25, 1914 [TLD died Feb. 16, 1914].

41. Notice to shareholders and bondholders of Knollwood Cemetery re reasons for the delay of the re-organization plan, July 16, 1915.

42. Receipt for 153 stock certificates of American Type Founders Company for transfer and waiver from Theodore B. De Vinne, executor for TLD, Oct. 18, 1915.

43. Legal agreement, 3 p., between Theodore B. De Vinne and James W. Bothwell transferring 100 shares of stock of De Vinne Press to William J. Eakins, a faithful employee, Dec. 17, 1916.

44. Memorandum of agreement, 2 p., of Theodore B. De Vinne to transfer 1084 shares of De Vinne Press stock he owned to the Press, Jan. 27, 1919.

45. Catalog of the library of TLD, sale no. 1455, to take place Jan. 12-16, 1920 at Anderson Galleries, Jan. 5, 1920.

46. Legal document, 9 p.: agreement of sale of the De Vinne Press by James W. Bothwell to Martin B. Brown Printing and Binding Company, March 5, 1923.

47. Agreement as in #46, but carbon of typed version.

48. Another copy of #46.

49. Another copy of #46.

50. Legal document, 5 p.: agreement by the stockholders of the De Vinne Press authorizing James Bothwell, President, to transfer all shares of stock o the Martin B. Brown Printing and  Binding Company, March 7, 1923 (2 copies).

51. Another copy of #50.

52. Sworn statement, 2 p., by James W. Bothwell, President of De Vinne Press, certifying that due notice was transmitted to the Treasury Department on Feb. 26, 1922, concerning the transfer of the corporate stock of De Vinne Press to the Martin B. Brown Printing and Binding Company, May 3, 1924.

53. (a) Sworn statement attesting to appearance of notice regarding outstanding claims against the estate of Theodore B. De Vinne in The Morning Telegraph. May 14, 1927.

(b) Same in The New York Law Journal.

54.  Holograph, 1 p. Letter to T. B. De Vinne from James W. Bothwell saying he cannot take up at this time the two notes TBD holds ($500 each) but enclosing interest for them, March 16, 1927.


55. Legal document, 32 p.: Supreme Court, Westchester County. Charles D. De Vinne, plaintiff, against Arlington Lee Cook, Anna Holmes Cook, Albert A. Sichel, New York Telephone Co., defendants. Motion to strike out answer and for judgment. Alfred E. Ommen, Attorney for plaintiff. 1931.



Box 2: Artifacts, etc.

  • Hood [from TLD’s honorary degree from Columbia University?]
  • Metal etching plate, TLD in beret [probably the plate for Thomas Johnson’s etching]
  • Commemorative [lithograph?] of bust of TLD, sepia-colored, ersatz signature: “Yours cordially, Theo L. De Vinne”, matted, 10 copies
  • Memorial to Edwin Eugene De Vinne (b. Feb. 7, 1831; d. Mar 6 1875) [brother of TLD] & sermon preached by Rev. Oscar Gesner, March 9, 1875. 17 p. 

Black leather case containing following:

  • Three glass transparencies, approx. 5x7”, [re Cleveland, Ohio?], including some notes about making copies
  • Medal: “New York, U.T.A.” likenesses of TLD & Franklin? From UTA 1907 Niagara Falls convention; in Tiffany case
  • Medal: Gutenberg likeness one side & common press on other, note from Samuel P. Avery indicating it is a birthday present (Dec 25) to TLD         
  • Medal: TLD in beret surrounded by” United Typothetae of America”; verso is decorated with blank for engraving, which in this case is “Theo. L. De Vinne First President”; in case        
  • Medal with likeness of Samuel P. Avery, 1897; case says “Copy of the Gold Medal Presented to S. P. Avery, Mar. 17th 1897 by his friends”; in round case           
  • Metal case (silver?; size of cigarette case) engraved “TLD” and in lower left “From F. A. W.” [or T. A. W?]
  • Medal: “A la Science”  and on other side “Dux et Lux”(?) w/allegorical figures
  • Victor Brenner medal from 1902 Franklin Birthday Dinner celebrating TLD’s honorary degrees, “And the light came”
  • Two-part pin: “Committee” on top, “28th annual convention U T and F C of A” on bottom part
  • Medal: “Bonaparte ...”
  • Medal: female figure holding globe; wreath around perimeter of verso
  • Medal: gold colored: TLD in beret Typothetae of the City of New York, 1914 [on occasion of his death?]; verso has crest
  • Medal: Hispanic Society of America
  • Medal: Robert Fulton/Henry Hudson

Box 3: Artifacts, etc.

  • Black metal box printed “Estate of Theo. L. De Vinne” approx. 13 x 10 x 24”

art mad in November, 1878.Hart mamade

Boxes 4-13: Books (most also cataloged separately)

Baensch-Druguelin, Johannes, ed. Mark Steine aus der Weltlitteratur den Originalschriften, Leipzig 1902 auf Bestellung von Theodore Low De Vinne.

Bible. New York: American Bible Society, 1879. [Inscription from Daniel De Vinne to Theodore B. De Vinne & Lillian, Mar 9, 1882]

Book of Picture Alphabets. London: T. Nelson & Sons, [ca. 1890s?].

Century Magazine, May-Oct 1917.

D’Épinay, Madame. Courtiers and favourites of royalty: memoirs of the court of France… [3 vols.] Paris: Société des Bibliophiles; N: Merrill & Baker, 1903.

[De Vinne, Joanna Augusta.] A Memorial of Joanna Augusta De Vinne... New York: Printed for family friends only, June 1888. [Joanna Augusta De Vinne was mother of TLD]

De Vinne, Theodore Low. Practice of typography: correct composition... New York: Century Co., 1901. [Ink at top of t.p.:  “Proof Copy Not Published”; no corrections or edits are apparent, but t.p. of the published version, which is pasted in, varies from the one on this “proof copy”]

__________________. Practice of typography: modern methods of book composition... New York: Century Co., 1904.

__________________. Notable printers of Italy during the fifteenth century. New York: De Vinne Press, 1910.

__________________. Practice of typography: correct composition... New York: Oswald Pub Co., 1916.

__________________. [Two photo scrap books, spine labels:  “Naples” and “Rome”]

__________________. [Two photo scrapbooks with De Vinne bookplates, spine titles: “Syria” and “Egypt”]

Dwiggins, W.A. Towards a reform of the paper currency: particularly in point of its design. New York: Limited Editions Club, 1932. [Text and specimens furnished by Dwiggins, issued for 452 subscribers; this is copy no. 48, signed by Dwiggins; in slipcase]

Field, Eugene. The mouse and the moonbeam. New York: Scribner, 1919. [250 copies printed in the shop of William Edwin Rudge, New York City, for his friends Christmas 1919]

Fischbach, Friedrich, ed. Ornamente der Gewebe. [Germany?: s.n., 1890s?] [Folio; 160 color plates]

Goebel, Theodor. Die Graphischen Kunste der Gegenwart. Stuttgart: Felix Krais-VErlag, 1902.

Goudy, Frederick W. The story of the Village Type. New York: Press of the Woolly Whale, 1933.

Grolier Club. Transactions of the Grolier Club, Part 3. New York: Grolier Club, 1899.

The graphic arts and crafts year book, 1908. Hamilton, Ohio: Republican Publishing Co., 1908.

[House of Refuge.] Documents relative to the House of Refuge, instituted by The Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents in the City of New-York in 1824... New York: Printed by Mahlon Day, 1832.

Jones, Owen. The Grammar of ornament. London: Day and Son, 1856.

McMurtrie, Douglas C. Modern typography & layout. Chicago: Eyncourt Press, 1929.

Mergenthaler Linotype Co. The manual of Linotype typography… Brooklyn: Mergenthaler Linotype Co., 1923.

Mergenthaler Linotype Co. Peter Piper’s practical principles of plain and perfect pronunciation. Brooklyn: Mergenthaler, 1936. [Designed by Bruce Rogers]

Oesterreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst. Die Initialen der Renaissance nach den Constructionen von A. Dürer herausgegeben von C. Sitte ... unter Mitwirkung von J. Salb. Wien, 1882.

Peters, Harry T. Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American people. Garden City: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1942.

Racinet, M.A. L’ornament polychrome... [2 vols.] Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1888. [With TLD’s bookplate]

Rand, McNally & Co., indexed atlas of the world. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1887. [Inscription of McNally to TLD, with TLD’s bookplate]

Redfield-Kendrick-O’Dell Company. An exhibit of Garamond types with ornaments… New York: The Firm, 1927.

Schuyler Van Rensselaer, Mrs. English cathedrals [vol. 1 only]. New York: Century Co., 1892. [With TLD’s bookplate; “Office Copy” stamped on t.p.)

The Scribner-Black atlas of the world. New York: Scribner, 1890. [With TLD’s bookplate]

Silvestre, J.B., Frederic Madden, trans. Universal paleography… [2 vols.] London: Henry G. Bohn, 1850.

Smith, J. Gordon. Monograms in three and four letters suitable for engraving… London: Thomas C. Jack, [ca. 1890s].

(Updated 11/21/2017)

Site Scripts
Hide Click to Edits:
FED Scripts
CWS & Content Load