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Born in Cleveland, Ohio, the multitalented Egmont Arens (1888-1966) had close ties to Frank Shay’s bookshop. After studying at the University of New Mexico and University of Chicago, he worked briefly as the sports editor at the Albuquerque Citizen-Tribune. He then moved to New York, where he ran the Washington Square Bookshop at from 1917 to 1923. Frank Shay had owned the shop from 1915 to about 1916, and though the details appear differently in various histories of the Village, it seems likely that Shay was responsible for moving the shop to its famous Eighth Street address, where it remained and helped establish the street’s reputation as a center of bookselling. Arens continued Shay’s practice of publishing plays from the shop, starting a series called the Flying Stag Plays, which he not only published but printed. Under the Flying Stag Press imprint, he also published the little magazine Playboy: A Portfolio of Art and Satire and a guidebook, The Little Book of Greenwich Village, which was reprinted several times after its original issue in 1918. Arens’ interest in visual art led him to supplement his work at his bookshop by working as an art editor at Vanity Fair from 1922 to 1923, in an era the magazine was packed with the work of important artists, and then to Creative Arts, where he worked from 1925 to 1927. He then left the world of books behind to build a career as an influential industrial designer who excelled in designing consumer home goods and food packaging. In 1935 he was established his own design firm. A proponent of the streamlined design that became popular in the 1930s, his most enduring product is arguably the bullet-silhouette KitchenAid mixer of 1936, which may be found on the shelves of cooking supply stores virtually unchanged today.
A playbill for the Provincetown Players, undated
This old-style playbill for the revival of Anna Cora Mowatt’s 1845 play Fashion was printed by Egmont Arens at the Flying Stag Press, which he ran out of the Washington Square Bookshop.