William Henry Bradley

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1. Introduction

Known commonly as Will Bradley. Primarily an artist/illustrator (an extraordinary one!), and a page/book designer, but also a printer (he started as a printer's devil, worked later as a compositor, and at one point owned his own press). His lettering was used as the basis for several types.

[NOTE: Bradley was a significant figure in the emergence of what we now know as the "graphic arts" in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There is MUCH more that could/should be added here. For now, this page is simply a stub added because I needed to resolve the confusion in portraits described below.]

Posters in Miniature (1896) edited by Edward Penfield [Penfield 1896] contains reproductions of several of his early works.

In 1974, Clarence P. Hornung edited a good collection of his work for Dover Publications. This is still perhaps the most easily accessible (and inexpensive) introduction to the artist and his work. [Hornung 1974]).

See also the website: www.willbradley.com

2. Conflation with William Aspinwall Bradley

William Henry Bradley (1868 - 1962) was an artist, illustrator, and lettering designer who was very influential in (and beyond) the 1890s. William Aspinwall Bradley (1878 - 1939) was a poet, art director, and literary agent. The papers of his Paris-based literary agency are now housed at the Harry Ransom Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin (see their page at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/uthrc/00300/hrc-00300p1.html for a brief biographical sketch). William Aspinwall Bradley also dabbled at times in book design (e.g., Original Drawings by the Old Masters, which received an AIGA medal in 1920; see [Leslie 1937]).

I have found it difficult, however, to find portraits of these two unrelated Bradleys. In one situation, further, I have come to believe that a portrait identified as one is actually the other.

A brief item in the "Chronicle and Comment" section of The Bookman in August 1905 shows a portrait which must clearly be that of William Aspinwall Bradley in his twenties. [Bookman 1905]:

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(From the Google Books digitization of the University of Michigan copy.)

The article [Leslie 1937] discusses the printing by Norman T. A. Munder of Original Drawings by the Old Masters (circa 1920) which was "laid out" by William Aspinwall Bradley with decorations by Thomas M. Cleland. It contains woodcut portraits of "Bradley" and "Cleland"; one presumes that the portrait of Bradley here is intended to be William Aspinwall Bradley:

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Given the murkiness of the 1905 photograph and the stylized nature of the 1937 portrait, it is possible that the two are of the same person. But I think now that the 1937 Production Manager portrait, presented as William Aspinwall Bradley, is in fact William Henry Bradley. The first suggestion of this came from the website www.willbradley.com (accessed 2013-10-23), devoted to Will H. Bradley. It displays a portrait said to be Will (William H.) Bradley which is clearly the photograph on which the woodcut from the 1937 Production Manager portrait, above, is based. [Lindsay 1999],

This website does not credit a source for its portrait, but it would appear to be a publicity portrait of Bradley (what would today be called a "headshot") done no later than 1896. It was reproduced in that year in the book Posters in Miniature edited by Edward Penfield. [Penfield 1896],

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(Here is the original raw page scan, first as a JPEG2000 image (the format it was distributed in) and then as a PNG rendering of this (rotated 90 degrees clockwise, as well):

I think that it is relatively safe to conclude that this 1896 portrait does indeed represent Will H. Bradley (who would have been 28 at the time) and not William Aspinwall Bradley (who would have been 18 and just beginning his studies at Columbia).

[Hornung 1974], p. x, has a presumably accurate portrait of William H. Bradley, but it shows him in his old age (he lived until 1962).

Aside: There was also a Will H. Bradley who was a Monotype caster operator at the Eagle Printing and Binding Company of Pittsfield, Mass. See The Inland Printer, Vol. 38, No. 2 (November, 1906): 292. It might well have been the case at some point that the work of both Will H. Bradley and Will H. Bradley contributed to the same publication. If they were smokers, before 1903 they might simultaneously have enjoyed cigars from Will H. Bradley, president of the Bradley Cigar Company. [Bradley Cigar]

3. Notes and References

[Bookman 1905] The Bookman. Vol. 21, No. 6 (August, 1905): 561-562.

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image link-to-bookman-vol-21-n6-1905-08-google-harvard-p0561-img0810-william-aspinwall-bradley-sf0.jpg

(From the Google Books digitization of the University of Michigan copy.)

[Bradley Cigar] The Bradley Cigar Company, Will H. Bradley, president, was incorporated in 1894. See Headlight Flashes [published by the Chicago Railroad Publishing Co.], Vol. 2, No. 11 (May, 1896.) It was dissolved in 1903. See Smythe, R. M. Obsolete American Securities and Corporations (NY: R. M. Smythe, 1904): 133.

[Hornung 1974] Hornung, Clarence P., ed. Will Bradley: His Graphic Art. (NY: Dover Publications, 1974).

[Leslie 1937] Robert L. Leslie, "Norman T. A. Munder: A Brief Sketch of the Career of a Famous Baltimore Printer." Production Manager, Vol. 3, No. 12, Whole No. 36 (August, 1937). The entire issue of this journal, in the PDF from the Google Books scan of the University of Michigan copy, is reprinted in the Notebook on Munder.

[Lindsay 1999] Lindsay, Martin S. "Will H. Bradley: His Biography." Will H. Bradley: His Work [website]. Accessed 2013-10-24. http://www.willbradley.com/biography/

[Penfield 1896] Penfield, Edward, ed. Posters in Miniature. (NY: R. H. Russell / Londohn: John Lane, 1896). Online at The Internet Archive at: http://www.archive.org/details/postersinminiatu00penf

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