Lost in the Shuffle

Before there was Andrew Hoyem at Auerhahn Press, there was Jay McIlroy. Hoyem bought out McIlroy in 1961 to become a partner in the press. McIlroy was a printer who helped Dave Haselwood out in the print room and became a partner. It should be remembered that at the start of Auerhahn Haselwood had only a "high school knowledge of printing" (from Printing from the Edge). McIlroy showed Haselwood the ropes and got those early books, like Self Portrait, From Another Direction (handset and printed on a Hartford letterpress in 1959), out into the world.

Haselwood makes this clear in his interview with Alastair Johnston (available from Cuneiform Press in Hanging Quotes): "[McIlroy] really knew how to print and taught me how to print . . . He was an extremely fine person and really was heavily responsible for the good things that happened at Auerhahn and he's never given any credit . . . He was a typical South Side of Philadelphia, not educated beyond high school, talked with a wonderful working-class Philadelphia accent, no pretensions, but just loved this poetry, and wanted to work on it. Quite a strange thing actually. He really was the one who got it off the ground. I don't think I could have ever printed this. For instance in Ekstasis there are all these shaped poems."

"[N]o pretensions, but just loved this poetry, and wanted to work with it." Compare this with Andrew Hoyem, which was about "exquisite productions." How much was the early aesthetic of Auerhahn influenced by Jay McIlroy and his simple sense of style?

In the interview, Haselwood acknowledges that he lost track of McIlroy and I can find little on him at all. The above business card locks him into place in the day-to-day activities of Auerhahn as a business partner and into its history.

Before McIlroy, Haselwood states that there was "[a] man who's name I don't even remember, who worked as a ship's printer on Lurline, obtained some type for me that they were selling off the ship and then showed me how to set type and operate the Hartford letterpress. He just volunteered and came in and helped." There is no business card for this Man from Portlock who altered the course of Auerhahn. He is lost to history. For example in the introduction to Printing from the Edge Exhibit on California broadsides, this unknown man is merged into the person of McIlroy.

Ephemera matters.



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