The Standard Upheld

Standard Upheld title
Title page of “The Standard Upheld”

During their five-year collaboration between 1898 and 1903, Morgan Shepard was the artist, decorator and poet, while Paul Elder was the businessman and bookseller. Elder & Shepard published six of Shepard’s works during that time, mostly children’s stories. The prettiest of them is his slim volume of poetry The Standard Upheld, published in 1902. The title page decorations, as well as the initial capitals throughout the book, are almost certainly Shepard’s.

The opening poem, “Shall I Cast Down the Standard Of My Life?” is no doubt autobiographical. Shepard was a fighter (sometimes literally) all his life, and the metaphor of “me against the world, holding my standard high” is an apt image.

In contrast to Shepard, Paul Elder never published any original works. Though his byline appeared on seventeen of his publications, “compiler” would be a better word than “author”: they were all collections of quotations. Presumably Elder also wrote most of the copy for his in-house magazine Impressions as well.

Standard Upheld cover
Special binding for “The Standard Upheld”. Elder & Shepard’s normal bindings never looked like this.

This copy of The Standard Upheld was specially bound by bookbinders James A. Rutherford and Henry W. Thumler, whose shop was at 538 California, about three blocks from Elder & Shepard’s bookstore (and later at 117 Grant, just down the street).

Standard Upheld p01
Page 1 of “The Standard Upheld”, and poem from which the book’s title is taken
Standard Upheld p10
Pages 10-11 of “The Standard Upheld”