Arion Lyre


Arion Press Folio Bible

In the tradition of grand printed lectern Bibles, the Arion Press Folio Bible is a monument to the scriptures, to fine typography, and to fine bookmaking.

If you treasure beautifully made books, read on to discover a unique, handcrafted edition of the Good Book.

Following in the tradition of Gutenberg and other fine printers over more than five centuries, Andrew Hoyem and his skilled artisans at Arion Press in San Francisco have created an oversize, Folio Edition of the Holy Bible using traditional letterpress techniques and the finest materials and craftsmanship.

“This Bible is unique because this place is unique. It’s one of the last shops in the world where all the work on a book is done under one roof”, notes Elizabeth Farnsworth of the PBS News Hour.

Preserving all that is best

Lead Type for Book of Job

Lead type composed to
print the opening of
the Book of Job

The Arion Press edition is wonderfully suited for use on church pulpits, lecterns, and altars, but it is equally appropriate for libraries and homes where superbly crafted books are appreciated. The text features the contemporary translation and current scholarship of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), used with the approval of the National Council of Churches.

“This new version seeks to preserve all that is best in the English Bible as it has been known and used through the years”, writes Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, chairman of the committee of scholars that produced the NRSV, in an essay entitled “To the Reader” that prefaces the Arion edition. “It is intended for use in public reading and congregational worship, as well as in private study, instruction, and meditation.”

A masterpiece to last for centuries

“Only 400 copies of this large-format Bible have been made, each one a utilitarian masterpiece likely to last for centuries. . . . This is an extraordinary Bible,” comments Forbes magazine.

The text of the Arion edition is printed from metal type on exquisite English mouldmade, all-cotton fiber paper from the Inveresk Mill. The 1,356 pages measure 18 by 13 inches, and are hand-bound in two volumes, housed in a handsome box. Designed for ease of reading from a lectern or pulpit, the text is set in Romulus, a type of graceful lines and clarity of character recognition.

Initial letter

Hand illuminating the
initial letter that opens
the Book of Job

Each book of the Bible begins with a large red initial letter. This alphabet of roman capitals was created for the Arion Press by the noted type designer Sumner Stone, formerly director of digital design for Adobe.

Hand-illuminated abstract patterns, created by calligrapher Thomas Ingmire, embellish the initials of special copies of the Arion Bible, using genuine gold and watercolors.

A hand-wrought Bible

“From melting the lead, to proofreading, to physically lifting 40-pound frames of type, the consensus of Andrew Hoyem, as publisher of the Arion Press, and his small crew of eight craftspeople, is that a hand-wrought Bible is intrinsically valuable,” in the words of the Christian Science Monitor. “Dozens of steps could easily be eliminated by today's computerized printing technology, but the publishing result would be far different, they say, a loss of quality and meaning. ‘The difference is that we are embedding the type into the paper,’ Hoyem says, holding a freshly printed page and showing the difference. ‘What you are seeing here is rather like a stone inscription, cut into stone with a three-dimensional effect. All along the way, we make it a little better because we are right here, working on it with our hands.’ ”

Like building a cathedral

“Trying to make each one more perfect than the last is the challenge,” comments one of the Arion Press artisans, engaged in hand-coloring the initials and hand-sewing the bindings. “It reminds me of building a cathedral because it's hard physical work, such as moving the heavy galleys and all the other lifting.”

This Bible is almost certain to be the last one printed by letterpress from metal type, ending a tradition that dates to the first printed book, the Gutenberg Bible.

“This tangibility of letterpress printing begins with the Monotype machine”, writes Pomona Magazine. “Hoyem saved the country's oldest and last fully functioning type foundry, Mackenzie & Harris, from closure, incorporating it into the Arion Press operation. Lewis Mitchell, who has worked as a typecaster with M&H for 50 years, cast each of the tens of thousands of lines of Bible text on a Monotype machine. This complex machine melts down ingots of lead alloy, called pigs, and casts them into raised letters for the Bible in classic 16-point Romulus typeface characters—each as brilliant as a tiny polished sculpture.”

Clarity and crispness that take your breath away

“Arion Press is the nation’s leading publisher of fine-press books that span from classics to contemporary literature,” according to Tim Johnson, curator of rare books at the University of Minnesota, speaking to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “ ‘How beautiful the typeset is,’ Johnson said of the Arion Press Bible. ‘There's a clarity and crispness there that takes your breath away. The spacing, weight of the paper, it all starts to catch your eyes. It is a breath-taking book to look at.’ ”

To understand and believe and respond

For discerning collectors and churches, what makes this book truly inspiring is that such fine craftsmanship has been employed in service to this particular text above all others.

“The Bible carries its full message, not to those who regard it simply as a noble literary heritage of the past or who wish to use it to enhance political purposes and advance otherwise desirable goals, but to all persons and communities who read it so that they may discern and understand what God is saying to them”, writes Dr. Metzger of the NRSV committee. “It is the hope and prayer of the translators that this version of the Bible may continue to hold a large place in congregational life and to speak to all readers, young and old alike, helping them to understand and believe and respond to its message.”

The Arion Press Folio Edition of the Holy Bible

Andrew Hoyem at the press

Andrew Hoyem and Gerald Reddan
printing the Arion Press Folio Bible

The format of the Arion Press Folio Edition of the Holy Bible is 18 by 13 inches, 1,356 pages, printed by letterpress in two colors of ink, black for text, red for initial letters, on Somerset, a mouldmade paper of 100% cotton fiber. The Bible is bound as two volumes for ease of handling and advantages for display. The weight, with box, is approximately 50 pounds. It is printed in an edition of 400 copies, of which 150 have illuminated initial letters.

You are invited to reserve your copy of this monumental Bible. You may choose from the following binding options:

  • Handbound in black linen, in linen box. Price: $7,750.
  • Handbound in full leather, in linen box. Price: $8,500.
  • Illuminated initial letters optional. Price: add $2,500.
  • For those who wish to commission a unique binding, it is available unbound, in black linen box. Price: $7,250.

Yours is the next step

If this invitation strikes a chord, you are urged to reply without delay. RSVP now to reserve your copy. We will contact you promptly to confirm your choice of binding and payment preference. Or if you are intrigued and need more information, we would be pleased to discuss your interest and introduce you to the full story of the Arion Press Folio Bible.

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1802 Hays Street, The Presidio, San Francisco, California 94129
Telephone: 415-668-2542; Fax: 415-668-2550