Finding a Publisher


Thaxter enlisted the help of C.W. Dodge, the current Curator of the Farlow Library and Herbarium, to begin searching for a printer and, in late 1927 decided that a local press would be the best solution and concentrated their efforts in the Boston area. [22] Their search soon focused on a choice between Harvard University Press of Cambridge and the Merrymount Press of Boston. On November 14, 1927 Dodge reported to Burt to tell him that they had chosen to use Merrymount Press which had a reputation for doing excellent work. Harvard University Press, on the other hand, was characterized as "capable but lazy." [23]


Meanwhile Burt concentrated his efforts on a format of the book to present to the prospective publisher for an accurate cost estimate. He told Thaxter that he believed the best way to lay out the figures and text would be the format of Bresadola's Iconographia Mycologia (above). He sent them a mockup to show how each plate should appear. (below) [24]

During the next six months Burt wrote a brief introduction and the text and layout were finalized. The title Icones Farlowianae was chosen by Thaxter and Mrs. Farlow, the Garamond font was chosen, and Merrymount presented their estimate. D.B. Updike, the Merrymount representative, wrote to Dodge on June 26, 1928 that their final price was $16.00 per copy for 500 copies, or $8,000 in total to print and bind 500 books, with author's changes being extra. [25] Unfortunately there was not enough cash available to pay this amount in advance. Therefore an agreement was made in late July of 1928 to pay for 300 copies. Once these had been sold, Dodge would pay the remaining $3,200 to print and bind the final 200 copies [26].

All was in order when another obstacle was discovered. When Merrymount received the boxes of plates from storage in the fall of 1928 they found that some of them had been damaged by water [27]. Nothing could be done about the water-damage and so these plates were put aside and binding continued. In 1929 more problems were found. The crates containing plate 49 was infested with a bookworm that damaged some of the plates. Also, on plate 57, the interleaving tissue had adhered to the plates. Merrymount contacted the Boston Heliotype Printing Company about this and they were able to remove the tissue from some of the plates [28]. Professor Dodge instructed Merrymount to group the defective plates together so that as few defective copies as possible would be created. The final number of defective copies was 22 [29].

'The binding was completed in September of 1929 and the books were delivered to the Farlow at the end of September. Merrymount Press handled the copyright certificate as well and the official date of publication for Icones Farlowianae was listed as October 1, 1929 [30].

The book was stunning and when Burt received his copy in December he quickly wrote to Thaxter stating "I am very pleased with the Icones in every way" [31].

All that was left to do was to create an advertisement for the book. Thaxter contacted Merrymount again and in January of 1930 they agreed to print 1100 copies of an advertisement for $55 [32]. The ad was completed and sent out with some of the extra, undamaged plates at the end of January 1930.

Finally, more than 41 years after it was started, Icones Farlowianae was completed.