Western Publishing & Lithography Company (1907-1984 )
The company was formed by brothers Edward Henry and Albert H. Wadewitz when they bought Racine's West Side Printing Company in September 1907 for $2,504 and changed its name in 1910. In 1915, the company acquired Chicago publisher Hammerung-Whitman Publishing Co., which became its subsidiary, Whitman Publishing Company. Another subsidiary was K.K. Publications, named after Kay Kamen, manager of character merchandising at Walt Disney Studios from 1933 to 1949. K.K. Publications became defunct during the mid/late 1960s.
By the late 1970s, Western was one of the largest commercial printers in the USA. It had four manufacturing plants and two distribution centers from Kansas to Maryland. It boasted of installing some of the first heatset web offset printing presses in the US as well has having the largest offset sheetfed presses, some exceeding 78" printing in five colors, and one of the largest bindery operations in the USA. Among other things, it printed mass paperback books under contract, was the primary manufacturer and distributor of the board games Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary, plus other table-top games. It developed and printed specialty cookbooks, premiums and collateral for many Fortune 500 clients. At one time, Western printed almost everything from "business cards to billboards", and employed over 2500 full-time people. Most of their printing plants were closed and print operations consolidated to Racine by the mid 1990s.
Mattel bought Western in June 1979, and sold it in 1984 to private investors. By mid-1996, under the supervision of Simon & Schuster expatriate Richard E. Snyder, it was renamed Golden Books Family Entertainment and tried to emphasize on children's books. It sold the adult books (Golden Guide) to St. Martin's Press in 1999, and later the H.E. Harris coin company bought Whitman Coin Products from St. Martin’s Press in 2003 and renamed it Whitman Publishing. By 1997, Western Publishing was absorbed into the Golden Books Publishing Company.
Golden Books Family Entertainment was acquired by Classic Media Inc. and Random House in a bankruptcy auction for $84.4 million on August 16, 2001, with Classic gaining rights to Golden's film and TV library (including Lamb Chop, Lassie, the pre-1974 Rankin/Bass library, among other titles) as well as the production, licensing and merchandising rights for Golden's characters, while Random House grabbed Golden's publishing rights. Historian Michael Barrier has lamented the apparent loss of Western's business records for the use of future researchers.
Robinson Crusoe. Racine, Western Publishing & Litography Co.,
Robinson Crusoe. Racine, Western Publishing Company, Inc.,