Lowman & Hanford - Seattle Booksellers' Guide to New Books

For the month of June, Seattle booksellers Lowman & Hanford Co. present their monthly publication, Books of the Month. For June 1921, that is.

This advertising booklet is subtitled, A concise guide to the new books prepared for the customers of Lowman & Hanford Co., located at First Avenue and Cherry Street in Seattle.

At first glance, I would suspect "concise" fits this small 3 X 6 inch booklet, but a closer inspection reveals how much material is crammed into 34 pages, beyond the scope of concise, for new reading suggestions. There's too much to list here, but I'll touch on some of the highlights.

Respected Western writers Eugene Manlove Rhodes and William MacLeod Raine had new books out this month in 1921. Rhodes' book was titled Stepsons of Light, while Raine's novel was called Gunsight Pass.


Edgar Guest and Booth Tarkenton were the big names of the day for this guide. Their new books were When Day is Done and Alice Adams respectively.


Other sample pages follow:




Sometimes, you get lucky researching old bookselling firms and find what you're looking for on the first query. Such was the case for Lowman & Hanford Co.

At the Northwest Digital Archives (NWDA), I found a pretty good history of the company HERE, whose founders go back to Seattle pioneer days. The company existed in one form or another from about 1885 to the 1960s, although the official date range of the archive holdings at Seattle's Museum of History & Industry, Sophie Frye Bass Library is 1894-1955.

Those holdings include three boxes of business records and 19 photographs. The history from the link above is copied below in case the links ever disappear or otherwise get broken:
The Lowman & Hanford Stationery and Printing Company, later the Lowman & Hanford Company, was a printing company and retail stationery business operating in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle beginning around 1885.

James Lowman and Clarence Hanford were business and civic leaders in early Seattle, each with ties to Seattle's pioneer settlers. James D. Lowman (1856-1947) was born in Maryland and arrived in Seattle in 1877 at the invitation of his uncle, founding Seattle settler and sawmill owner Henry Yesler. Lowman worked as assistant wharf master on Yesler's wharf for four years, using his savings to purchase a half interest in the book store owned by W.H. Pumphrey in 1881, and buying out his partner two years later.

Clarence Hanford (1857-1920) was a Seattle native, the youngest son of Washington Territory pioneers. When Hanford was 13, he began learning the printing trade at the office of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which was published by his older brother, Thaddeus Hanford, eventually becoming foreman of the printing department. Hanford later bought out the job-printing department and established a job-printing office with a partner, J.H. McClair, in 1879, buying out McClair’s interest in 1881.

Around 1885, J.D. Lowman and Clarence Hanford consolidated their stationery and printing businesses into the Lowman & Hanford Stationery and Printing Company, with Lowman as President and principle stockholder, and Hanford as vice-president and manager of the printing and bookmaking department. The firm advertised as booksellers, stationers, printers and binders but also sold typewriters, sewing machines, pianos and organs. The new company added large presses and printed all the city's newspapers until their establishment was destroyed in the Great Fire of June 1889. The company returned to the "burnt district" after the fire, probably in temporary quarters at first, then building both the Lowman & Hanford Printing and Binding building (now the Washington Park Building) on Washington Street, along Railroad Avenue (now Alaskan Way), which they moved into in 1890, and the Lowman & Hanford building at 616 First Avenue, designed by Emil DeNeuf. Within months of the fire, they had erected and operated in the first two floors of the latter building, continuing operations during construction of the upper floors. The four-story building was completed in 1892, with three more upper floors added around 1902. Immediately next door, the 10-story Lowman Building at 107 Cherry Street was completed in 1906. These two buildings, along with the Howard Building and the Pioneer Building, forms the eastern edge of the area’s original public square.

Judging by entries in city directories, the retail store appears to have gone out of business in the 1960s, with the printing company ceasing operations some years previous.

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