The Centaur Book Shop

Harold Trump Mason (1893-1983) was the Philadelphia proprietor of the Centaur Book Shop and later, the Centaur Press. The shop was an exclusive meeting place for men of the area, where they drank and smoked and held thematic parties. Mason published limited edition fine press volumes, beginning in 1924 with Walt Whitman’s Song of the BroadAxe with woodcuts by Wharton Harris Esherick (1887-1970). That same year, Esherick created a woodcut of the Centaur Shop, as well as the iron and wood Centaur sign for the front of the shop and their logo.

In 1926, Esherick cut twenty-four vignette woodcuts for a volume of poetry by A.E. Coppard, designed and printed by Elmer Adler at the Pynson Printers in an edition of 500 copies. Esherick presented Adler with this signed copy of his Centaur Book Shop print, which was given to the graphic arts department when Adler formed it in 1940.

The colorful story of the Centaur Book Shop is being written by our colleague Lynne Farrington, Curator of Printed Books, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania, hopefully to be published soon.

Princeton holds twelve volumes published by Mason, including:
Walt Whitman (1819-1892), Song of the Broad-Axe, 1924. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) PS3222 .S63 1924q
D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays, 1925. Rare Books (Ex) 3822.27.375
A.E. Coppard (1878-1957), Yokohama Garland and Other Poems, 1926. Graphic Arts Oversize 2007-0691Q
Song of Solomon, 1927. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) BS1483 .E7 1927q
James House Jr., Fifty drawings, 1930. Rare Books (Ex) NC1429 .H78
Anthology of the younger poets, edited by Oliver Wells, 1932. Firestone 3588.964
Stanley Burnshaw (1906-2005), André Spire and His Poetry, 1933. Firestone Library (F) 3292.84.611
Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941), No Swank, 1934. Firestone Library (F) 3607.25.3675
Peyton Houston, Descent into the dust, 1936 Rare Books (Ex) PS3515.O7924 D4 1936
Tony sees the World, photographs by Arthur Neustadt; verses by Agnes Crozier [i.e. Grozier] Herbertson, 1936. Cotsen Children’s Library (CTSN) 84315
Stanley Burnshaw, Iron Land, 1936 Annex A 3658.06.349
James Daly (1901-1936), One Season Shattered, 1936. RECAP 3704.827.368