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Armitage, Merle (13 February 1893–15 March 1975), book designer, author, and impresario, was born near Mason City, Iowa, the son of Elmer Ellsworth Armitage and Lulu Jacobs. He claimed 12 February as his birth date in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Armitage grew up in Texas and spent his youth in the West, where he lived on a number of ranches. Primarily self-educated as a civil engineer, he worked for the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient Railroad (later the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company). He claims to have abandoned that career because of severe eyestrain. He then worked in the publicity department of the Packard Motor Company, where it is thought he learned graphic design. He also became interested in stage design and worked in New York City. He served in World War I as an instructor in mechanical engineering....

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Conkwright, P. J. (23 October 1905–31 January 1986), book designer, was born Pleasant Jefferson Conkwright in Bristow, located in what was then Oklahoma Territory, the son of Pleasant Jefferson Conkwright and Mildred Fox Conkwright, missionaries. In 1908 the family settled in Salpupa, southwest of Tulsa, where P. J.'s father remained a pastor at the First Baptist Church until his retirement in 1941. In Salpupa P. J. produced Sunday school bulletins on a duplicator for his father. His enthusiasm for printing developed further, and as a teenager he worked part time in a local print shop. He also printed his Boy Scout newspaper on his own small press....

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Rogers, Bruce (14 May 1870–18 May 1957), book designer, was born Albert Bruce Rogers in Linwood, Indiana, the son of George Rogers, a baker and confectioner, and Ann E. Gish. As a teenager, “Bert” (short for Albert) displayed an aptitude for book designing when he created a hand-lettered edition of ...

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Updike, Daniel Berkeley (24 February 1860–29 December 1941), book designer and printer, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Caesar Augustus Updike, a lawyer and state representative, and Elisabeth Bigelow Adams. Updike was an only child born into an old and well-connected New England family, but his father’s death in 1877, when Updike was seventeen, prevented his going beyond grammar school in his formal education. Updike’s intellectual and cultural character, however, was molded by his mother, an antiquary and scholar of French and English literature. Updike also came from an Episcopalian background, and his religion greatly influenced both his character and his later work as a printer....

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Whitman, Sarah de St. Prix Wyman (05 December 1842–25 June 1904), designer and fabricator of stained glass, bookcover designer, painter, and writer, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of William W. Wyman, a banker, and Sarah Amanda Treat of Boston. Immediately following her birth, in the wake of a financial scandal and legal trials involving her father, the family moved to Baltimore. The Wymans returned to Lowell in 1853, but throughout her life, Baltimore held a special place in Whitman’s heart, and she returned regularly to her childhood home for family visits and Christmas holidays....