June 15th, 2012
Recently, we were lucky to find a few more publications by the Ashantilly Press of Darien, Georgia, for sale from rare book vendors and purchase them for the library. That leaves only a few more titles that were either printed by the Ashantilly Press, or designed by Bill Haynes, owner of the press, but printed somewhere else to complete our collection. The press produced some beautiful publications, done more as a labor of love than as a profit making venture. Haynes set the type and carved the woodcuts to illustrate each publication. He also printed publications for organizations such as churches, historical associations, community groups, etc. And he printed invitations and cards for himself and others.
The Ashantilly Press was named after the house, Ashantilly, built in 1820 by Thomas Spalding in Darien, Georgia. It became the property of the Haynes Family in 1918 and they rebuilt the house after a fire in the late 1930s. The press was founded in the mid 1950s. The first project was a broadside of the plan of Fort King George in 1955. His first book project, a reprint of Anchored Yesterdays, came shortly after that. It took him almost a year to design and print the book. The book was entered into the Southern Book Competition and won. Anchored Yesterdays is about the first 100 years of Savannah’s history told in 10 “watches.” This account of the early history of the city from the arrival of the first ship through the rise of importance of Savannah as a port is nicely designed and bound in paper covers. The book does not contain an edition statement, but was published in 1956.
Our Ashantilly Press Collection, MS 029, contains books, broadsides, cards, ephemera and other publication of the Ashantilly Press and other presses. The books were published between 1940 and 1991 and include books that William G. Haynes published at the Ashantilly Press, as well as those he illustrated or designed which were published by other presses. The collection also contains correspondence between William G. Haynes and Dr. Lawrence S. Thompson, former director of libraries at the University of Kentucky. The correspondence dates between 1966 and 1984. Also included is the acceptance speech presented by Haynes on accepting the Rock Howard Award in 1983.
Our three newest books are all poetry and, while they are all nicely done, one in particular is very beautiful: To Dwell in Sound, by Jean Reti. She was an Associate Professor of piano at the University of Georgia. She was married first to Austrian composer and musicologist, Rudolph Reti, and after his death, married artist, W. Stanton Forbes. Her beautifully produced book of poetry is dedicated to the memory of Rudolph Reti. Haynes decorated each part with a beautiful historiated initial in a deep blue. The paper he used was handmade Tovil with a watermark. The book was published in an edition of 100, the library’s copy is 72.
Over a span of several years, the press printed thirty titles, the last in 1991. Haynes died in 2001, leaving the house, Ashantilly, and his printing press to his foundation, the Ashantilly Center, which hosts environmental, cultural, and historic events. The press is being restored and soon will be offering workshops.