Small Press in the Village
In 1639, Bernard von Mallinckrodt, Dean of Munster, wrote of “those who had sometimes hired printers and set up their peculiar and private presses.”
As Roderick Cave points out in The Private Press, private printing such as Targ Editions in Greenwich Village didn’t begin with William Morris in the 19th century. Rather, private presses can be traced back to the medieval manuscript era when monastic communities sought to preserve important academic scholarship. English aristocrat Horace Walpole wrote in 1773 of his own private press, “I hope future edition mongers will say of those of Strawberry Hill, they have all the beautiful negligence of a gentleman.” Benjamin Franklin installed a private press at his Paris home in Passy.
William Targ’s privately printed Targ Editions may have been less luxurious in their production, but their location in Greenwich Village was equally illustrious, if not notorious. They continued a printing tradition dating back centuries.