From Moneymaker to Papermaker:
Chillicothe Resident Embraces
Legacy of Preceding Generations
(September 11, 2001)
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Bill Eichenberger, Dispatch Book Critic
is a tool of the learned, a raw material for bookmaking. Paper is the household
furniture of the chancery, the treasure of scholars, a preserver of human
friendship. O, my paper! You are indeed a splendid thing.
Abraham a Santa Clara, 17th-century priest
Hunter III had everything figured out.
day he graduated from college, where he was studying business management, he
would put on his stockbroker’s suit and take Wall Street by storm.
way would he follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. No way would
he have anything to do with papermaking.
was never one to do anything I didn’t really want to do,” Hunter said
recently at Mountain House, the family home in Chillicothe for eight decades.
1989, when Dard Hunter II died, everything changed.
saw the light,” the son said.
light guided him back to his grandfather’s legacy as a graphic designer and
the world’s foremost authority on the history of papermaking, and to his
father’s legacy as a bookmaker and craftsman of the highest order.
so Hunter founded Dard Hunter Studios at Mountain House, where paper is still
made by hand and 175 original designs by his grandfather are still applied to
cards, prints, stationery, ceramics and jewelry.
the turn of the century, grandfather Hunter, an artist, was working for his
father’s newspaper in Chillicothe.
1904 he joined the renowned Roycrofters arts-and-crafts community in East
Aurora, N.Y. Later he studied elements of graphic design and bookmaking in
Vienna, Austria; worked in Austria and England; then returned to the United
States, where he founded a paper mill in Marlborough, N.Y.
the time, in 1912, not a single mill in the country was producing handmade
eventually traveled the world studying papermaking techniques. He wrote 20 books
on the subject, including eight that he made entirely by himself.
books can be beautiful, although many aren’t; but handmade books can be
stunning as works of art. The only entirely harmonious book, Hunter thought, is
conceived, written and manufactured by one person.
first order of business when Dard Hunter III chose to pursue papermaking was to
restore Mountain House; the second was to figure out how to use printing
equipment nearly 100 years old.
happened to run into printers Mark and Marilyn Nero of Chandler, Ariz., who
visit Mountain House three or four times a year to work the manual printing
met in an Internet chat room,” Mark Nero said recently during a break at
Mountain House. “Dard (III) asked a question about adjusting the press roller
and signed off, ‘Dard Hunter.’ I sent him a message back asking, ‘Dard
Hunter who?’ And he sent me the reply ‘Dard Hunter III, that’s who.’
course I knew all about the Roycrofters, collected their stuff. And I knew all
about Dard Hunter.”
trio struck up a friendship that in turn inspired Hunter to hire the Neros.
make reprints rather than reproductions,” Nero said. “It’s a fine
distinction, but we use 100 percent of Dard’s designs, down to the colors. And
we use the same press Dard used.”
and printing by hand are labor-intensive: The Neros take an entire workweek to
produce 50 three-color prints.
are in good company, though: Hunter II and his father worked for years producing
the 1950 magnum opus Papermaking by Hand in America. The two earned 5 cents an
hour for their effort, they estimated.
all this by hand has never been a get-rich-quick scheme,” Nero said with a
concurred: “My father actually lost money on his (1981) book The Life Work of
limited-edition biography, handmade, features all 175 designs.
by Hand and Life Work sell for as much as $12,500 apiece in rare-book catalogs.
the Hunter designs have never really gone away.
have been imitated so much that they have always been here, there and
everywhere,” Nero said. “Lots of people will look at one of Dard’s designs
and say, ‘Oh, I recognize that.’ But they won’t know who Dard is.
trying to bring the name Dard Hunter back.”
he seeks to preserve his grandfather’s legacy, Hunter doesn’t see himself as
someone on a mission.
never knew my grandfather. He died before I was born,” he said. “Whenever I
talked to my father about my grandfather, I was interested in Dard Hunter the
man rather than Dard Hunter the achiever.
in a strange way, I feel something of a curator of a site; in a crazy way, I
don’t feel a family connection when it comes to my grandfather’s work.”
grandfather and father had a passion for handmade books and other objects. (His
father made furniture for Mountain House.) And, although they understood the
practicality of automation, they harbored a prejudice.
father’s biggest complaint was about softbound books. He didn’t care for
them at all,” Hunter recalled. “He never sold reprint rights to his books,
because he didn’t want to see them produced in paperback.”
did make an exception:
sold the rights to Papermaking: The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft to
Dover Publishing. And when he saw the paperback edition of it, he almost flipped
he understood the need for it, too. He understood that a $15 paperback edition
made it possible for students to buy a book they couldn’t afford if it were a
to his ubiquitous designs, Dard Hunter has cast a long shadow on arts and crafts
in the United States.
Ayres, owner of Arts and Crafts Period Textiles in Oakland, Calif., uses two of
the designs for her linens.
use the tulip design and the rose design,” she said. “You see Dard
Hunter’s rose everywhere in arts and crafts. I think his designs are really
striking in their simplicity.”
is pleased that Ayres credits his grandfather by name in her catalog and on her
as a way of saying thank you,” he said, “Dianne sends us the textile scraps,
which we use to make paper.”
that Hunter didn’t intend to make -- no, sir -- until he saw the light.
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