Robert T. Aitchison Collection
of Rare Books
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|Click on the images for a closer view.
Atlas of America, Blaeu, 1662
|Robert Aitchison loved books. His interests also encompassed
cartography, history, fine painting and business, and they all played a large part in his
life. Aitchison was an inquiring person, and did not stop searching until his death in
1964. He had just finished the compilation for his thirty-eighth map, "Paths of the
Roman Alphabet," and was on his way to dinner when he succumbed to a heart attack in
the driveway of his home in Wichita.
Aitchison was born in 1887 in Columbus, Kansas, the son of Clarence and Mollie Aitchison. His career in art began after he attended the Academy of Fine Art in Chicago for a couple of years. Newspapers, in his youth, did not use photographic illustration, which gave him the opportunity to work for the Chicago Tribune as an illustrator. While on assignment interviewing President Taft in San Antonio, Texas, he decided to settle there, began cartooning for the San Antonio Express, and started a commercial art studio on the side. He returned to his home town to marry Mary Cheshire, his eighth grade sweetheart.
In 1920 the Aitchisons moved to Wichita, where it was his job to establish a creative department for the McCormick-Armstrong Company, a printing firm that employed Aitchison for the next forty years. These were years of inspiration to printers and help for hundreds of young artists.
|Robert Aitchison was an active man who served as president of the Kansas State Historical Society, and a judge on the American Institute of Graphic Arts 50 Books Show. He also held membership for years in the Grolier Club, The Typophiles, Historic Wichita, the Wichita Art Association, the Artists Guild and the Wichita Art Museum. He was a founder of the Wichita Bibliophiles and cofounder of the Wichita Art Association and the Artists Guild. He served on the boards of many organizations and was an officer and major stockholder in the McCormick-Armstrong Company.||
First leaf of The Doves Press 1907 printing of John Milton's Areopagitica.
|Aitchison's collecting interests were primarily in the works of the early printers, letterform history, fine bindings and woodcut artists. He also had a passion for fine maps. His own maps,"A History of Printing in Europe" and "A History of Printing in America," hang in printing offices all over the world. His state historical maps for the Mentholatum Company were widely distributed to schools throughout the United States.|
|Title page and first leaf of Hapsburg Genealogy, Jacob Mennel, J. Wörlin, 1522.|
Detail of Biblical Book of Exodus translated and printed in the Cherokee language, Park Hill, 1853.
|The works that Robert T. Aitchison collected can be used for research and
enjoyment. This collection at Special Collections in Ablah Library at Wichita State
University represents his dearest possessions: old and rare books.
The collection includes thirteen incunabula, 115 titles from the sixteenth century, a fine manuscript from the eleventh century, examples of most of the fine early printers and showings from woodcut artists, and many pieces from the early presses in the United States.
Printed Charm Scroll of Empress Shotoku. Japanese, 770 A.D.
With special thanks to Carnot Brennan, Susan Kraft, Kitty Adams and Frances Kentling.
Images in this digital exhibit may be in
the public domain or under copyright which is protected by U.S. Copyright
Law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Images in the public domain are made available
for use in research, instruction and private study. Copyrighted materials
may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use, outlined in section 107 of copyright law. Publication, commercial
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Statement on Use and Reproductions, http://libraries.wichita.edu/ablah/index.php/aboutsc#use.