A Tale of Two Mills 1892–1911

In support of the new exhibition Paper is Part of the Picture: Strathmore Paper and the Evolution of American Graphic Design, we wanted to share some pivotal highlights of Strathmore’s 125 year history. Through the end of 2017, join us as we explore the history of Strathmore Paper and its impact on American Graphic Design. Today’s post looks at the company’s beginning in 1892, when it was known as the Mittineague Paper Company, and used Strathmore as a name for its earliest, deckle edge papers.

The Mittineague Paper Co. was established in 1892 in Mittineague, Massachusetts by Horace A. Moses. In those early days, Moses set out to differentiate his papers through the use of design and type, to suggest ways printers might use these papers. In 1905 he purchased the nearby Woronoco Paper Co., and continued to operate the two mills independently, each with their own lines of paper, until 1911 when they were consolidated as the Strathmore Paper Co.

Woronoco Paper Company

The earliest Mittineague sample books, most notably those for the celebrated Strathmore Deckle Edge Book papers, were designed by famed poster artist Will Bradley at The Wayside Press in Springfield and later at The Wayside Studio of The University Press of Cambridge. Bradley severed his connections with The University Press in 1900. After that, the press and the F.A. Bassette Co., established by former Wayside Press employees, shared most design and printing for Mittineague for the following decade.

1) Strathmore Deckle Edge Paper sample book (Mittineague Paper Co., 1899); Designed by Will Bradley and printed by The University Press. 4 7⁄8 x 6 1⁄8 inches | 2) Strathmore Deckle Edge Papers (Mittineague Paper Co., 1897); Designed and printed by Will Bradley at The Wayside Press. Oldest surviving Strathmore sample book. 4 3/4 x 6 1⁄8 inches. | 3) Strathmore Japan (Mittineague Paper Co., 1911); Probably printed by The University Press. Cover illustration signed M.H. 6 ¼ x 9 ½ inches. | 4) Rhododendron Folding Bristols (1905); Designed and printed by the F.A. Bassette Co. 10 x 6 1/4 inches

Mittineague was the first paper mill to issue comprehensive sample books rather than ones for individual lines of paper. In 1906 they published three books simultaneously: Strathmore Quality Deckle Edge Book Papers, Strathmore Quality Bond, Book & Cover Papers and Strathmore Quality Commercial Writing Papers.

1) Strathmore Quality Bond, Book & Cover Papers (Mittineague Paper Co., 1906); Designed and printed by the F.A. Bassette Co. 5 3/4 x 10 inches. | 2) Strathmore Quality Commercial Writing Papers (Mittineague Paper Co., 1906); Designed and printed by the F.A. Bassette Co. This is the first sample book to use the thistle as a design element on its cover. 10 x 6 3⁄8 inches.

In 1905 Mittineague registered a trademark consisting of a thistle, the monogram MPCo. and the phrase “Strathmore Quality.” The symbol and the phrase were inspired by an 1894 trip Moses made to Scotland where he was overwhelmed by the beauty of thistles in full bloom in the Valley of Strathmore. The thistle has become the recurring symbol of Strathmore, existing in over 250 iterations.


For the 125th anniversary of Strathmore, we decided to do something special. Together with the Opalka Gallery and Paul Shaw, we’re bringing you “Paper is Part of the Picture,” an exhibition of nearly 200 paper promotions found in the Strathmore Archive. The exhibition is being held from October 3 – December 15. More information can be found here.

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