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Bibliography

Bell, Robert Eugene. History of the Grabhorn Press. University of California, Berkeley, Ann Arbor, 1974. Dissertation available through ProQuest.

Heller, Elinor Raas and David Magee. Bibliography of the Grabhorn Press. John Howell Books, San Francisco, 1940-77. 3 vols. Volumes 1, 2 & 3 available in SCU Special Collections.

Magee, David. The Hundredth Book: A Bibliography of the Publications of the Book Club of California & a History of the Club, Grabhorn Press, San Francisco, 1958. Available at the website of the BCC and available in SCU Special Collections.

Roth, William M. The Colt Springs High: A Publishing Memoir of the Colt Press 1938-1942, Book Club of California, San Francisco, 2004. Available in SCU Special Collections.

Teiser, Ruth, and Catherine Harroun, editors. Printing as a Performing Art. Book Club of California, San Francisco, 1970. Available in SCU Special Collections.

Wentz, Roby. The Grabhorn Press: A Biography. Book Club of California, San Francisco, 1981. Available in SCU Special Collections.

Other Resources

UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Finding Aid on Grabhorn Archive

San Francisco Public Library: The Robert Grabhorn Collection on the History of Printing and the Development of the Book

UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Finding Aid on Oscar Lewis Papers

Stanford University Library Finding Aid for the Colt Press Records

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Collection Highlights

Illustration by Valenti Angelo for the Book of Job, printed by Grabhorn Press in 1926

Angelo, Valenti, Anne Englund, and Andrew Hoyem. Valenti Angelo: Author, Illustrator, Printer. San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1976, page 10.

History

The Grabhorn Press was a major player in fine letterpress printing and binding in the San Francisco Bay Area and California in the 20th Century. In a time of publishing being overtaken by machine-printed and bound books, the work of the Grabhorn Press stood out for its fine craftsmanship and treatment of subjects having to do with Californiana. Distinguished by their use of hand-set type, elegant layout, tasteful color, often handmade paper, and fine binding, Grabhorn Press soon took advantage of the rich literary culture already afoot in San Francisco and perfected the printing work began by John Henry Nash and Taylor & Taylor in San Francisco. Later, the hallmarks of their work established the Press as a go-to for bibliophiles in the area, including private patrons, the Book Club of California (the Press’s biggest client), and Bennett Cerf from Random House.

Edwin Grabhorn began printing work with his Studio Press in Indiana, and later moved to San Francisco and employed his brother Robert Grabhorn to start Grabhorn Press. Grabhorn Press included the wives and children of Edwin and Robert: Edwin’s wife Marjorie contributed in many ways, including sewing bindings, writing introductions, and running the business; Edwin’s daughter Mary contributed illustrations to some editions, most notably the Shakespeare works; Robert’s wife Jane printed herself, and also ran the affiliate imprints Jumbo Press (1937) and Colt Press (1938-1943).

In 1965 Edwin retired and Robert went into business with Andrew Hoyem, who had worked in a nearby printing shop and had later worked for the Grabhorns. They started the Grabhorn-Hoyem Press (1966-1977). In 1974 Andrew Hoyem established Arion Press to continue the work of Grabhorn Press and Grabhorn-Hoyem, including the collection of type, which was an extremely unique and historically significant collection from a working press. In 2000 Andrew Hoyem and his Arion Press established the Grabhorn Institute to continue the unbroken tradition of using the typefoundry amassed by the Grabhorns.

Timeline

  • 1916-1919: Studio Press in Indianapolis, Indiana established by Edwin Grabhorn
  • 1919/1920-1965: Grabhorn Press established in San Francisco, California by Edwin and Robert Grabhorn 
    • 1929-1932: Westgate Press (established by Robert Grabhorn and Oscar Lewis)
    • 1937: Jumbo Press (established by Jane Grabhorn)
    • 1938-1943: Colt Press (established by Jane Grabhorn)
  • 1921: Grabhorn Press prints first work for Book Club of California, A Gracious Visitation
  • 1963: Edwin and Robert Grabhorn receive honorary doctorate of fine arts from UC Berkeley
  • 1963: Marjorie Grabhorn dies
  • 1965: Edwin Grabhorn retires
  • 1966-1977: Grabhorn-Hoyem Press established by Robert Grabhorn and Andrew Hoyem in San Francisco, California
  • 1968: Edwin Grabhorn dies
  • 1973: Robert and Jane Grabhorn die
  • 1974: Andrew Hoyem establishes Arion Press in San Francisco, California
  • 2000: Grabhorn Institute established at Arion Press

Research & Instruction Services Coordinator, Archives & Special Collections

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Kelci Baughman McDowell
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