Arion Press is a continuation of Grabhorn-Hoyem, a printing establishment co-founded in 1965 by Robert Grabhorn, one of the original founders of the Grabhorn Press, and Andrew Hoyem. When Robert Grabhorn died in 1973, Hoyem assumed control of the operation and renamed it after the legendary poet Arion. The Arion Press, which inherited the Grabhorn Press plant and extensive collection of American metal type, is still in operation and includes a typecasting division – M & H Type – as well as bookbinding facilities.
Harry and Caresse Crosby, originally from Boston and New York respectively, founded the Black Sun Press (at first called Éditions Narcisse) in Paris, France, in 1927. After Harry Crosby's death in 1929 in an apparent suicide pact with his lover, Josephine Noyes Rotch, Caresse Crosby continued to run the Press in Paris until 1936. She then returned to America, where the Press officially remained in operation until her death in 1970, though few books were produced after 1952. The Crosbys were closely associated with, and published works by, several of the American expatriate authors living in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, including Ernest Hemmingway, Hart Crane, and Archibald MacLeish.
In operation from 1899 to 1906, the Blue Sky Press printed books strongly influenced by the design aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts movement. The press was run by Alfred G. Langworthy, Thomas Wood Stevens, and (until 1902) Alden Charles Noble. Langworthy was in charge of typography, while literary and artistic matters were in the hands of Stevens and Noble. Some of the Press's books featured work by prominent designers such as Frederic Goudy and W. A. Dwiggins.
Originally from San Francisco, Jane Bissell Grabhorn (nee Martha Jane Bissell) spent much of her early life in France, where she received training in bookbinding. Returning to her native city, she married Robert Grabhorn, at whose Grabhorn Press she worked from 1934. In 1938 she founded the Colt Press in collaboration with William Roth and Jane Swinerton. The Press ceased independent operations until 1942, when Roth joined the Office of War Information, but Colt Press imprints continued to be issued by the Grabhorn Press. Bissell also operated the Jumbo Press.
The Cummington Press takes its name from the Cummington School of the Arts in Massachusetts, where Harry Duncan, the Press's founder, began printing in 1939. Duncan took over from Carroll Coleman as the director of the Typographical Laboratory at the University of Iowa in 1956, but continued to use the Cummington Press imprint after his move to the Midwest. Cummington Press books feature a spare, classical style that had a strong influence on later Midwestern fine printing. Duncan moved to the University of Nebraska Omaha in 1972 and until his retirement in 1985 he printed books under the Abattoir Editions imprint, returning to the Cummington Press imprint from 1985 until his death in 1997.
The Elston Press was founded by Clarke Conwell in New York in 1900. In 1902, Conwell moved the Press to New Rochelle. Initially, Conwell produced books highly imitative of William Morris's Kelmscott Press books, but Conwell later turned away from Kelmscott-style typefaces and adopted a lighter decorative style. The decorated borders and other design elements of Elston Press books were provided by Clarke Conwell's wife Helen Marguerite O'Kane. The Press closed in 1904.
Established in San Francisco in 1919 by the brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn, the Grabhorn Press operated until 1965. After Edwin Grabhorn's death, Robert Grabhorn co-founded Grabhorn-Hoyem in 1966 with Andrew Hoyem, who later founded the Arion Press. Much of the Press's work appears under the imprint of other presses and publishers, though it also produced work under its own imprint. Many Grabhorn Press books feature illustrations be Valenti Angelo, Mallette Dean, and Mary Grabhorn (the daughter of Edwin Grabhorn). Jane Grabhorn, the wife of Robert Grabhorn, ran the Jumbo Press and Colt Press.
The Harbor Press was founded by John Fass and Roland and Elizabeth Wood in New York in 1925. At the same time, John Fass was running the Hell-Box Press out of his single-room apartment at the YMCA. The Harbor Press specialized in printing works by American authors, who often signed the books produced by the Press. The Press also printed many of the books issued by the Limited Editions Club. The Harbor Press closed in 1939, after which John Fass went on to found the Hammer Creek Press.
The Limited Editions Club was founded in 1929 by George Macy (1900-1956) to publish finely made and finely illustrated limited editions of the classics of literature - and of a few carefully selected contemporary titles, such as The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
Most of the books were beautifully illustrated with original artwork by leading book illustrators. In most cases, the illustrators handsigned each copy of the books that they illustrated for the LEC. Some books were published without that signature due to the unexpected death of the artist before publication, as happened with the The Arabian Nights illustrated by Arthur Szyk, Comus illustrated by Edmund Dulac, and the Arthur Rackham illustrated Wind In The Willows.
George Macy also commissioned some major fine art artists to illustrate LEC books with original finely printed etchings, lithographs, and engravings, which were bound into the books; including artists such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Marie Laurencin and other members of the Paris School of Art. He also commissioned a number of American masters of that period, largely from the Social Realism and American Regionalism schools of art. Included were Reginald Marsh, Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, and John Steuart Curry. In addition, he commissioned major photographers, including Edward Weston and Edward Steichen, to illustrate LEC books. Those artists and photographers handsigned all copies of the books that they illustrated.
Some LEC books were signed not only by the artist, but also by famous book designers and by the authors, such as The Complete Poems of Robert Frost (1950), which was signed by the poet, Robert Frost; the book-designer, Bruce Rogers; and the artist/illustrator, Thomas Nason. And most copies of the books, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, were signed by Alice Hargreaves, the original Alice, who inspired the story.
A small number of LEC books were issued unillustrated, in which case they were usually signed by the book-designer and/or the printer.
The two most sought after (and valuable) LEC books published under Macy's leadership are Lysistrata, illustrated and signed by Pablo Picasso, 1934; and Ulysses, illustrated and signed by Henri Matisse, 1935. 250 copies of the 1500 copy limited edition of Ulysses were also signed by the author, James Joyce.
The LEC issued up to twelve books each year to a small group of subscribers. During ownership by the Macy family, LEC books were usually limited to 1500 copies, but with several exceptions. The original subscription price in 1929 of an LEC book was $10, discounted by 10% if the subscriber paid a year in advance.
After George Macy's death in 1956, his wife, Helen (1904-1978), took over and directed the operations of the LEC until 1968. From 1968 until 1970, the club was operated by her son, Jonathan Macy, and other family members. In 1970, the LEC (together with The Heritage Press and The Heritage Club), was sold to Boise Cascade Corporation. Boise Cascade sold it to Ziff-Davis Publishing Company. Ziff-Davis sold it to Cardavon Press. Cardavon operated the LEC with limited success for most of the 1970's, finally putting it on the block for sale.
Founded in Eugene, Oregon, fine press printer Sandy Tilcock has over 30 years’ experience designing and producing limited-edition books, broadsides, commemorative awards and other forms. Her work, built on a long-standing relationship with her faithful Vandercook 219 hand-cranked cylinder press, is known for its elegance, precision, and the sensitive integration of text and image. The press’s work is rooted in traditional forms and methods of setting words on paper. It is about creating beautiful, valued artifacts, always in service to the text. Any imagery is carefully selected to honor the author’s words.
Daniel B. Updike, the founder of the Merrymount Press, trained as a printer at the Riverside Press, but soon turned his attention to typographic design. In 1893 he founded a typographic design studio, and in 1896 he founded the Merrymount Press, both in Boston. Though a commercial establishment, the Press always maintained a reputation for its high design standards, especially with regard to typography. Initially, the Merrymount Press printed very much in the tradition of William Morris's Kelmscott Press, but Updike later drew on models from the 17th to the 19th centuries. In addition to issuing books under its own imprint, the Press also printed books for other publishers. It continued in operation until 1941.
Thomas Bird Mosher established the Mosher Press in Portland, Maine, in 1891, and continued printing until his death in 1923. After Mosher's death, the Press was run by his secretary, Flora Lamb. Mosher Press books take their inspiration from the restrained elegance of the Daniel Press, preferring simplicity of design to the more exuberant aesthetic of contemporary presses such as Kelmscott and Vale. By keeping the price of his books comparatively low and his print runs comparatively high, Mosher ensured that many little-known and out-of-print works were made available to an American audience, even if this often meant printing them without the author's knowledge or permission.
John Henry Nash was one of the founders of the Californian tradition of fine press printing. From 1916 Nash produced books both independently and on commission for the Limited Editions Club, the Book Club of California, and other clients. The design of his books was strongly under the influence of William Morris and the Kelmscott Press. From 1938-1943, John Henry Nash formed the University of Oregon Library Press where he supervised the design and composition of books selected by students.
The Perishable Press, located in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, was founded in 1964 by Walter Hamady, who in 1966 joined the art faculty at the University of Wisconsin. The Perishable Press was one of the earliest fine presses to produce most of its work on a Vandercook proofing press (rather than a traditional cast-iron press). Many Perishable Press books are notable for their innovative use of paper – in addition to the Perishable Press, Hamady also operated the Shadwell Paper Mill – and for Hamady's rambling, light-hearted, but highly informative colophons. Hamady's role as a teacher made the Perishable Press highly influential, with many of his students founding presses working in a very similar tradition.
The Prairie Press had its origins in a magazine called The Golden Quill, which was produced as a hobby by Carroll Coleman, beginning in the 1920s. Its formal foundation dates to 1935, however, by which time Coleman had gained experience in commercial printing. The Prairie Press produced books under its own imprint, as well printing books for other publishers. Coleman also taught typographic design at the University Iowa, establishing the Typographical Laboratory there in 1945.
Roycroft was a reformist community of craft workers and artists which formed part of the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States. Elbert Hubbard founded the community in 1895, in the village of East Aurora, New York, near Buffalo. Participants were known as Roycrofters. The work and philosophy of the group, often referred to as the Roycroft movement, had a strong influence on the development of American architecture and design in the early 20th century. The name "Roycroft" was chosen after the printers, Samuel and Thomas Roycroft, who made books in London from about 1650–1690. Elbert Hubbard had been influenced by the ideas of William Morris on a visit to England. He was unable to find a publisher for his book Little Journeys, so inspired by Morris's Kelmscott Press, decided to set up his own private press to print the book himself, founding Roycroft Press.
Frederic Goudy established the Village Press in Chicago in 1903 in order to promote his "Village" type – Goudy had designed this type for a clothing company, but it had never been cut and cast. Goudy originally ran the Press in partnership with Will Ransom, but Ransom dropped out when the Press relocated to Hingham in 1904. It relocated again in 1908, this time to New York. Most of the Press's equipment was destroyed in a fire in 1908, and after Goudy restarted the Press in 1911 it operated more as a hobby press than as a serious fine press. Village Press books were very heavily influenced by the design aesthetic of William Morris's Kelmscott Press.
Ward Ritchie trained as a printer at the Frank Wiggins Trade School in Los Angeles and under the French printer François Louis-Schmied in Paris. He founded the Ward Ritchie Press in Los Angeles in 1932. Like other Californian fine presses of the period, such as the Grabhorn Press, some of the Ward Ritchie Press's work appeared under the imprint of other presses and publishers, though it also produced work under its own imprint. Gregg Anderson, one of Ritchie's chief collaborators, was killed in the Second World War, but the the enterprise continued under the name of Anderson, Ritchie & Simon, with Ritchie finally retiring in 1974.
The Windhover Press was a private press operated by the University of Iowa from 1967 under the direction of Kim Merker. Merker had previously worked with Harry Duncan at the Cummington Press, before founding his own private press, the Stone Wall Press. The books produced by the Windhover Press under Merker's direction featured the same spare, classical style of Stone Wall Press books, though (unlike the Stone Wall Press) the Windhover Press used a proofing press rather than a standard press.
Melbert Cary founded the Press of the Woolly Whale in order to print works that he believed to have been unjustly neglected. The Press, located in New York, operated from 1928 until Cary's death in 1941. One of the Press's best-known works, a copy of which can be found in Special Collections, purports to be an account of the discovery of some long-lost woodblocks used by Gutenberg. Although entirely invented, this account was taken seriously by some historians of printing. Cary was also responsible for importing to the United States many typefaces that had previously only been used in Europe.