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Arthur W. Rushmore and the Golden Hind Press

Contributed by Susan Simon, President Madison Historical Society | Photo Provided by the Madison Historical Society

The Borough of Madison has several important links to the publishing business. For instance, John H. McGraw, who lived on Prospect, was the co-founder of the publishing giant McGraw-Hill. Another Madisonian not only founded a major book publishing company, but the company was actually located in Madison. The Golden Hind Press published its first book in October 1927 under the guidance of its founder Arthur W. Rushmore. This is his story and that of his family.

In 1900 the seventeen year old Arthur Rushmore moved with his family from Brooklyn to Florham Park, N.J. where his father became the mayor in 1910. Four years after moving to New Jersey, Arthur joined Harper & Brothers where he worked for the next forty-five years starting out as a purchasing agent for what later became Harper Publishing. Arthur was a designer when he created a new cover for the September 1911 issue of Harper’s Magazine. By 1933 he was the director of manufacturing and book production for the company.

Arthur and his wife Edna moved to Alexander Avenue in Madison in 1909. All three of their children attended the Madison Public Schools. In 1923 the family moved to Fairview Avenue. Arthur was then appointed to the Madison Public Library Board of Trustees serving until his death in 1955. The last three years of his tenure he was President of the Board.

In 1924 he constructed the Bottle Hill Pottery on the grounds of the family home. The Rushmore family’s avocation was making pottery and the oldest daughter, under her married name, Delight Rushmore Lewis, became a nationally recognized pottery maker.

In 1927 Arthur and his wife founded The Golden Hind Press in a corner of their kitchen. He claimed to have set up the press to experiment with title pages and decorative features for the Harper books. Soon the family was setting complete books – but not for profit. They printed quantities of attractive books that they would give to their friends. Edna would set the type and their daughter Elaine was the proof-reader and critic. This allowed Arthur the creative freedom he desired. The Golden Hind Press’s first publication was Karle Wilson Baker’s The Seeker. Lee Thayer designed the front piece which was hand colored by Delight Rushmore. Golden Hind Press produced approximately 200 books. Of this number 90 bear the Harper imprint, 50 are exclusively from Golden Hind and 40 were released by other notable publishers. When he was interviewed for an article in the American Artist in May of 1941 he said, “What we do at the Golden Hind Press is fun, sheer nonsensical pleasure. The rarest of emotions these days. That’s the return for our efforts, the only return we know of today not subject to taxation!” Arthur retired in 1940, but continued to serve on Harper’s Board of Directors.

During the 1930’s, the prestigious American Institute of Graphic Arts recognized a number of Golden Hind books including Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Fatal Interview, Warren Chappell’s Anatomy of Lettering and Marguerite Vance’s A Star for Hansi.

When the new Madison Public Library was built in 1969, a room was dedicated to Arthur W. Rushmore. His personal papers were given to the library along with his private library, correspondence and memorabilia. In the collection are 100 Harper imprints that were hand-set at the Golden Hind Press. The Press itself was located in the entrance of the room in 1977. However, it has since been given to Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Friendship Library by the family in memory of Arthur. You can visit the Rushmore room at the Madison Public Library and see the collection. Check first to make sure no group is using the room.

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