Peter Pauper Press, founded in 1928, is one of America’s leading publishers of fine gift books, humor books, compact references, travel guides, unique journals, quality stationery, holiday cards, and innovative children’s activity books. We publish approximately 100 books and ancillary products per year.
In 1928, after studying with famed book and type designer Frederic W. Goudy, printer William Edwin Rudge, and Melbert B. Cary, 22-year-old Peter Beilenson set up a small press in the basement of his father’s home in Larchmont, New York, and designed and printed about 200 copies of J. M. Synge’s With Petrarch. The entire print run was purchased by a New York bookseller, and the volume was lauded as one of the American Institute of Graphic Arts’ "50 Books of the Year." This was the auspicious beginning of the Peter Pauper Press.
From the 1930s through the 1950s, Peter Pauper Press produced handsome, finely bound letterpress volumes of prose and poetry, including works by John Donne (which are thought to have sparked new interest in the Jacobean poet), Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, and hundreds more.
The books were sold at “prices even a pauper could afford,” according to Nick, though many included slipcovers, handmade paper, one- or two-color printing, and illustrations, woodcuts, and graphics by some of the 20th century’s most acclaimed artists, including Valenti Angelo, Fritz Kredel, Lynd Ward, Fritz Eichenberg, Raymond Lufkin, and Richard Floethe.
Today, the Beilensons’ fine press and gift book editions are sought-after collectibles, and a number of rare book libraries have held exhibitions of their work. Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder of the University of Exeter, in the U.K., founding members of the Information Society Network, consider these titles “culturally notable artifacts" that served as "guidebooks to a mobile, articulate, cultured life.” According to Borgerson and Schroeder, “These little books made belles-lettres authors, exotic ingredients, and foreign figures available to mainstream U.S. consumers. . . . Peter Pauper Press’s attractive books contributed small signals of success in the quest for adventurous dining, broader horizons, and cultural capital.”
Peter Pauper’s presses kept running until Edna’s death in 1981; after her passing, they almost stopped for good. But her son, Nick Beilenson, a lawyer, and his wife, Evelyn Beilenson, an interior decorator, chose not to let that happen; both changed careers and re-launched the business, moving it to White Plains, New York. Currently, Evelyn