Arion Press, the last full-service letterpress publisher in the U.S., has been profiled this week by The Boston Globe. Located on the edge of the Presidio in San Francisco, the fine press specializes in small print runs of highly illustrated books. They’ve published John Ashbery, Seamus Heaney, T.S. Eliot, John Milton, Allen Ginsberg, Rainer Maria Rilke, Wallace Stevens, and Helen Vendler regularly writes introductions for their new editions.
The process is unusual: the press’ in-house foundry crafts each letter; Arion tradesmen set many books completely by hand and others digitally. They print the books on surfaces like “mold-made paper” imported from Germany, and handbind each book with goatskin or mahogany. Tradesman work their way up over years of apprenticeship. Nathan Heller recently profiled the press for Harvard Magazine.
Brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn chose to start Grabhorn Press in San Francisco because they believed the city’s moist air was good for printing. They studied “allusive typography”—the idea that typefaces ought subtly to echo the period and style of the writing being typeset. In 1930, they published a gorgeous 400-copy edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, set entirely by hand. Andrew Hoyem joined Grabhorn Press in 1964, and later followed the tradition of San …read more

Via: Melville House Books