In 1906, the first book to appear with the imprint of the Elm Tree Press was Edward Fitzgerald's translation of Aeschylus' Agamemnon, edited by Dr. Charles Dana and John Cotton Dana, with three illustrations in an edition of 300 copies, all of which were sold.
Clearly, this was to be no run-of-the-ordinary, job-printing establishment, but something the two local owners plainly expressed as the loftier aims of their new venture:
"This press does printing of the highest grade...It is not difficult to print; it is very difficult to print well: To print with good taste, that is, to bring properly together the purpose of the thing printed, the type, the page and the paper--this may well be called an art. The Elm Tree Press tried to treat printing as an art, and, in the opinion of its friends, it usually succeeds."
One such friend of the Dana brothers, and an influential one, was Henry Watson Kent, Secretary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where he earned the title of Dean of American museum officials. He was a frequent visitor to Woodstock, where he spent most of his time at the Press talking to his friends, the Danas, and setting type as recreation. He esteemed them as men of "wit, wisdom, learning and taste."
In 1912, he wrote of the Press:
"There are many little presses scattered throughout the country that are doing good work, printing books, pamphlets, circulars and other small things needed in local, commercial and social life; and they should be better known. In this class would be included The Elm Tree Press were it not that there are certain characteristics to be found in its work and in its ideals that make it so individual as to merit a description all its own... It is intimately identified with the welfare and all the best activities of the place where it is located."
Mr. Kent was alluding to the fact that Woodstock, the Shire Town (Seat) of Windsor County was regarded as one of Vermont's centers oflegal practice, education, and thriving trade, as well as a leading influence in culture and social refinement. The Elm Tree Press reflected all these qualities of the community and responded to its needs. He concluded that this small country press, with a wineglass elm as its emblem, set standards that entitled it "to be enrolled in the brotherhood of FINE PRINTING... which has been carried on in Paris by the celebrated Didot; at Birmingham by Baskerville, and still earlier in London by Dryden Leach."
Heady praise, but well-deserved. During the 36 years of its existence, the Press under the Danas produced not only tasteful local job printing, but inspired among themselves collaboration in writing, editing, designing, handsetting and printing a remarkable series of scholarly books and pamphlets. It was a record of accomplishment in the field of fine printing of the old school which may never be matched or seen again.
Early in 1942, the year before his death, Edward, the last of the Dana brothers, sold the Elm Tree Press building, the printing business and all its equipment to Paul A. Bourdon, a lawyer and tenant, who had no intention or interest in operating the business.
But the Press was not to die. On the contrary, it was to continue a revived and vigorous life under a succession of new owners."
William Rudge, 1942-1950
Robert Dothard, 1951-1957
Frank and Rhoda Teagle, 1957-1971
Jerome Anderson, 1971-1974
Roland and Paul Gagnon 1974-?