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July 5, 1894 – April 15, 1971

Biography of a Photoengraver

Herman Zapf, a native New Yorker, started in the Photoengraving business around 1909 as a messenger. By the outbreak of World War I he was a Journeyman but stopped working in order to serve in the Army. He received an honorable discharge as Sergeant in 1918.

Once back in New York City, he returned to the business as a b/w finisher but was an early adapter to color work, which was in its infancy. However he saw an opportunity to build a niche in the business by developing the skills needed to repair and correct copper plates as called for by an advertising agency or the plant foreman. Each engraving tool had a purpose and he even designed new ones to fit his needs.

From the mid to late 1920s he was building a reputation in the city in his field, even starting a business with four other craftsmen. In 1935, however, he joined Conde Nast Engravers and remained with them until his retirement in 1960, ending a 48-year career in a bygone era.

Submitted by retired ALA member, David Zapf, residing in Corrales, New Mexico.