[Type Specimen Book].
San Francisco: Bock Ngar Chy Co., (n. d.), circa 1935. 14 x 21 cm. pp. Top-fold stapled blue-green wrappers printed in red and green; text printed in black and green. Illustrations throughout. Text primarily in Chinese, with some English. Toning to leaves; tiny bump and faint crease to lower corners. Very Good.
A type specimen book for Bock Ngar Chy Co., a Chinatown job printer, stationer, and supplier of rubber stamps. The book includes a variety of examples of both type and stamp designs, including some that suggest the company was doing job work for firms in Sacramento, Reno, Minneapolis, Denver, and even Ontario. We estimate the publishing date based on one of the stamp examples dated 1938.
Established in 1901, possibly by Lee Shew Hung, a San Francisco native, the company was owned by John Lee by the 1930s, and appears to have remained in operation until at least 1956, when a calendar was issued by the Bock Ngar Chy Youth Printing Co.
Interestingly, Thomas Wayne Chinn, the eminent historian, cut his teeth learning to print at Bock Ngar Chy, where his sister’s fiancé worked. Although Chinn was just a 15-year-old kid at the time, he was allowed to watch his brother-in-law-to-be hand-set the press at night: “I didn’t get paid,” Chinn later related, “but I got to smell printer‘s ink, and I think that’s why I later on decided to get into that field of work, since I wanted to write about Chinese-American history anyway.“ After establishing himself as a printer, Chinn went on to found the Chinese Digest, the first English-language weekly newspaper for Chinese Americans in the US, and the Chinese Historical Society of America.
Uncommon. We find holdings at the Bancroft and the Letterform Archive, and OCLC locates a possible 2004 reprint at the University of Delaware.