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Dard Hunter

Dard Hunter

Young Dard Hunter

Dard Hunter was born on November 29, 1883 into an Ohio family with a long tradition of printing and publishing. His given name was William Joseph. The origin of the nickname "Dard" remains unknown. Seeking a career in art, he joined Elbert Hubbard's Roycrofters in East Aurora, New York, in 1904. As a leading proponent of America's Arts and Crafts Movement, Hubbard encouraged Hunter to develop his artistic talents in many media, including graphic design, stained glass, and metalwork. Hunter is now considered one of the movement's greatest artists.

Dard Hunter's Introduction to Papermaking

In 1911, Dard Hunter visited London, where he became fascinated with early European papermaking and printing. He returned to America to set up a shop in Marlborough-on-Hudson, New York. In printing his first book in 1915, The Etching of Figures by William Bradley, Hunter continued to practice the creed of the Arts and Crafts Movement, whose proponents believed that a hand-crafted object was inherently more desirable, beautiful, serviceable, and worthy of human endeavor than anything made by a machine.

Dard Hunter, Paper Historian

After moving to Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1919, Hunter decided to devote his life to researching, collecting, writing, and publishing the world's history of hand papermaking and printing. Over the next ten years, he published three limited-edition books at his Mountain House Press. Their titles were Old Papermaking (1923), Literature of Papermaking (1925), and Primitive Papermaking (1927). In 1928, he started up a second paper mill in Lime Rock, Connecticut. Although a commercial failure, Hunter's Lime Rock Mill nevertheless became the inspiration for many of the successful handmade paper mills in the United States today.

The Dard Hunter Paper Museum

Although Dard Hunter had originally intended to establish a museum in the Lime Rock mill for his large collection of books and artifacts, the Dard Hunter Paper Museum first opened in 1939 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. In the Museum's brochure, Hunter stated that the Paper Museum was established "...with the hope of stimulating interest in the ancient craft of papermaking and promoting understanding of present-day paper and its relation to the graphic arts." In 1954, the Museum was acquired by The Institute of Paper Chemistry (now IPST), which was then located in Appleton, Wisconsin. Dard Hunter was named the Museum's Honorary Curator.

Dard Hunter's Legacy

By the time of his death on February 20, 1966, Dard Hunter was responsible for a renaissance in hand papermaking and printing. From 1923 to 1950, his Mountain Home Press produced eight limited-edition books that stand as testaments to his devotion and perseverance. Today, most of the historians and artisans interested in papermaking and printing were directly inspired by Hunter. To the public, the Dard Hunter Collection in the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum represents an invaluable and irreplaceable legacy, because most of the world's cultural history is borne by this seemingly fragile and insignificant material - paper.

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Institute of Paper Science and Technology at Georgia Tech - Atlanta, Georgia
Last updated - May 11, 2006