DescriptionCarl Hertzog Archive of Letters, all written to rare book dealer Betty Smedley. This archive of over 100 signed letters and postcards (both typed and handwritten) from Carl Hertzog spans the years 1969 to 1983. The recipient, Betty Smedley (1888-1985), was a rare book dealer in Austin.
The late 1960s and early '70s was a period of growing interest in books printed by Hertzog, as evidenced in the 1972 publication of Al Lowman's comprehensive Hertzog bibliography, Printer at the Pass. That same year also saw the release of Smedley's stir-causing Catalogue Six: A Carl Hertzog Hope Chest, a sale list of 166 collectable Hertzog items - at the time the most extensive Hertzog list ever offered. And so, as Hertzog's books became more sought-after, it's not surprising that these letters (in the beginning) carry a business-like tone, mainly concerning books which Hertzog then had available for wholesale. But soon the letters from Hertzog become more personable, such as when warning Smedley (then 87 years old!) to beware of many of her book dealer colleagues, "the so-called rare book dealers who pose as intellectual contributors when, in reality, they are just parasitical exploiters." Contained in this large collection is a wealth of personal and professional anecdotes from a man who was actively at the center of Texas arts, letters, and academics for half a century. There are comments about his own work, such as "Correction! The Brontë item was not printed by the University Press in Austin. I set the type with my own hands, even cut the dots on Brontë (hard to do on typewriter)." We also see Hertzog's playful side. Here, in response to Smedley asking his advice about removing a rubber stamp mark from a book: "there is no fluid to eliminate rubber stamping. Just a shotgun or horse whip for the perpetrator." Included are two copies of Catalogue Six: A Carl Hertzog Hope Chest, both the hardback limited to 150 copies, as well as the standard issue, in wraps.
At the age of 21, Carl Hertzog (1902-1984) arrived in El Paso, having answered an advertisement for a printer position at the McMath Company. He continued to work around town for various print shops and advertising agencies and even opened his own shop, but it wasn't until 1937 that he began the work for which he is best known. It was while collaborating with Tom Lea on The Notebook of Nancy Lea, as well as the illustrated menus for the Hotel Paso del Norte (a project which eventually became the Calendar of Twelve Travelers Through the Pass of the North), that his work began to create a stir among the world of printing and book design. Over the decades Hertzog found himself working with some of the most important Texas authors and artists, such as José Cisneros, J. Evetts Haley, J. Frank Dobie, et al. Hertzog's prodigious output as a printer and book designer continued well after his official retirement in 1971. In fact, he continued to work on projects for which he felt a personal affinity, even from his death bed. Throughout his life, he remained a prolific letter-writer: gossipy, candid, irascible, and always helpful in providing information about the books and broadsides he had printed over the years.
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