July 17, 2003


photo courtesy of Antiochiana
Xarifa Bean, standing next to a casting of a flag pole the Antioch Art Foundry created in the early 1930s for the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Bean and her husband, Morris Bean, would form Morris Bean & Company after WWII.


Read more about Yellow Springs' history

Early years at Art Foundry, Bookplate Co.

The mid-1920s saw the start of two ventures that would become major businesses in Yellow Springs: Antioch Art Foundry and Antioch Bookplate Company.

The companies were influenced by an effort by Arthur Morgan, who became president of Antioch College in 1921, to develop Antioch-based industries in Yellow Springs that would be operated by students or faculty members.

The Antioch Art Foundry — which after World War II would be incorporated as Morris Bean & Company — was started in 1926 when Morgan wanted to set up an operation to practice the “lost wax” method of casting small bronze objects. The college purchased an unused barn on Corry Street for the foundry. Morgan then persuaded an Italian sculptor named Palisati to come to Antioch to teach and work with students in the foundry.

There is conflicting information about what happened to Palisati. An article on the early history of the foundry by Clarence Leuba that was published in the News in 1972, said that the sculptor left for New York soon after arriving at Antioch. A 2002 article on Morris Bean & Company in the Springfield News-Sun reported that Palisati briefly worked with another sculptor, Amos Mazzolini, who then took over after Palisati left. Several papers by Antioch students on the company reported that Mazzolini said that Palisati was difficult to work with, in part because he was secretive.

As Morgan envisioned, the foundry’s first managers were co-op students at Antioch. However, some of those initial students, Leuba reported, “saw no future in the enterprise” and like Palisati, left.

Then came along another Antioch student, Morris Bean, a physics major from North Dakota, who took over the responsibility of co-op manager at the foundry in 1928. At the foundry, Bean put “his scientific training ability along with his talent for business to work,” partnering with Mazzolini, according to a short paper on Morris Bean history, which the company put together.

After Bean graduated from Antioch in 1930, he became the full-time manager of the Antioch Foundry. A year later, Bean married Xarifa Sallume the day after she graduated from Antioch with a mathematics degree. Xarifa joined the foundry, heading the operation’s technical research and development.

By this time, the foundry was increasing its business and moved to a larger barn near the Antioch campus, the company said in its history paper. In 1932, Morris Bean, Mazzolini and Morgan incorporated the Antioch Foundry.

While the foundry would eventually specialize in more industrialized work, its early focus was on artistic and architectural projects. Examples include decorative work at the Springfield post office, panels depicting the growth of medicine at Community Hospital, a nine-foot tall base to a flagpole at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and several pieces at the Natural History Museum in New York, including four 30-inch eagles.

Three years after it was incorporated, the foundry received a $500 research grant from Goodyear Tire & Rubber to develop aluminum tire molds. During this period, the Beans’ research moved the foundry in the direction of industrial arts. The Beans and Mazzolini eventually ended their partnership, allowing Mazzolini to concentrate on artistic work, the Beans, on their industrial craft.

At the time Arthur Morgan was trying to get the Antioch Foundry going, his son Ernest teamed with another student, Walter Kahoe, to start the Antioch Bookplate Company, which is now called The Antioch Company. Kahoe and Ernest Morgan had become friends when they worked together on co-op for a printer in New York and at the Antioch Press.

It was Kahoe’s idea to start printing bookplates, after he decided to find something to do with the narrow strips of paper that were regularly cut away from larger sheets at print shops and discarded. “The only thing he could think of was bookplates,” Morgan wrote in his autobiography, Dealing Creatively with Life, which he published in 1999 when he was 94.

Morgan joined Kahoe as salesman. With the permission of the college, they named their venture the Antioch Bookplate Company in the spring of 1926. To raise capital, they held a sale on campus, during which they made $60.

That summer Morgan hit the road with samples, hitchhiking his way through Northern Ohio and parts of Michigan and Indiana over five days. He returned to Yellow Springs with 20 sales agreements. The company had $400 in sales during this first year, according to information provided by The Antioch Company.

Meanewhile, Kahoe, who had also started a publishing business, was asked to run the plant of the Antioch Press, after its manager died. Kahoe sold his interest in the Bookplate Company to Morgan for $200.

Morgan rented space at 222 Xenia Avenue for a print shop for $10 a month, purchased a used press and got a new partner, Jesse Emerson Rice Shelton, who joined the business in ’27. Morgan and Shelton expanded the dealers they did business with. Shelton, however, got in trouble with the local marshal, ending the partnership.

The business continued to grow, and in 1929, Morgan started an advertising push, financed with help from a deal he made with his two employees to defer part of their salaries, including Morgan’s, that year, and split any profits at the end of the year. The campaign started successfully and orders were rolling in.

Then the stock market crashed, just at the beginning of the holiday season, and orders “slowed to a bare trickle,” Morgan wrote.

The Bookplate Company survived the Depression by selling packaged bookplates on consignment, establishing a “contingent” wage for employees and bartering goods for bookplate orders. Morgan purchased the building at 220 Xenia Avenue, converting it into a print shop. Sales declined in 1933 and ’34, only to rebound in the later half of the decade. By its 10th year in business, the Bookplate Company had four employees and $10,000 in sales.

—Robert Mihalek

Read more about Yellow Springs' history