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The Grabhorn Institute

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MISSION | CONTRIBUTE | ORGANIZATION | PROGRAMS & EVENTS 
APPRENTICESHIPS  | BACKGROUND | MANAGEMENT | DIRECTIONS | CONTACT

Mission & Goals

  • To preserve and perpetuate the use of the last complete working typefoundry and letterpress workshop in the United States, possibly in the world.
  • To pass on to future generations the skills of craftspeople trained in typecasting, letterpress printing, bookbinding, and the book arts.
  • To educate the public in the history of the printed word, so that the legacy of past technologies will enrich those of the future.
  • To inspire the arts community by creating and exhibiting remarkable examples of art, literature, design, and publishing.
  • To support an unbroken tradition of artistic publishing, printing, and bookmaking in San Francisco.
  • To contribute to the new information economy by making an unrivaled repository of tools and expertise available to students and practitioners of digital design.

The Grabhorn Institute was formed in 2000 in order to preserve and perpetuate the use of one of the last integrated typefoundry, letterpress printing, and bookbinding facilities as a living museum and educational center. A nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, it is the owner of Arion Press and M & H Type.

Grabhorn Benefit Dinner with Poet Jorie Graham, Painter Julian Lethbridge, and Poetry Scholar Helen Vendler

May 5, 2014, is the date of the Grabhorn Institute Annual Spring Benefit Dinner with honored guests poet Jorie Graham, painter Julian Lethbridge, and poetry scholar Helen Vendler. In the gallery at Arion Press, with cocktails, tours of the production facility, and a sit down dinner. Tables at $15,000, $10,000, and $5,000. Individual tickets at $1,000 (program listing) and $300. Read more and reserve online.

Contribute

Contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. You may contribute securely online, or by printing and mailing the contribution form.

Contribution form

Or donate securely online now with PayPal:


Your gift will be acknowledged with a letter of thanks for tax purposes.

Master printer Jerry Reddan shows the Arion pressroom to visitors

Master printer Jerry Reddan shows
the pressroom to visitors.


Organization

In December 2007, the non-profit Grabhorn Institute assumed stewardship of the fine printer and publisher Arion Press and the typecasting and typesetting business M & H Type. The three branches are co-occupants of the letterpress printing facility in the Presidio National Park in San Francisco and are open to the public Monday through Friday. The combined operation has a staff of fifteen. Of their total revenues, 32 percent is contributed income from Grabhorn Institute supporters and 68 percent is earned income from publishing, printing and design commissions, type sales, and related services. The 2011/2012 budget for Grabhorn Institute-sponsored public programs in preservation and education was $386,712.

Programs: Exhibitions, Tours, Grabhorn Fellows, Apprenticeships, Events, Lectures

 

Exhibitions

Tour of Arion Press bindery

Tours for the public, students, and other
groups are held regularly.

The historic printing facility, located in the national park in the Presidio, is open free to the public Monday through Friday (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) for gallery exhibitions. See Exhibitions.

Tours

Public demonstration tours of the letterpress printing shop, bookbindery, and typefoundry are held every Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. or by prior arrangement. Tours last approximately an hour and a half. There is a charge of $10.00 per person, with special rates for groups and evening hours.  For reservations call the Grabhorn Institute at (415) 668-2548 or e-mail grabhorn@arionpress.com.

Grabhorn Fellows

e-mail Summer program for college book arts students scheduled for August 2012.

Apprenticeships

The Grabhorn Institute paid apprenticeship programs are designed for those interested in long-term employment and not for a temporary or transitional experience. They provide training in the crafts of typography, letterpress printing, bookbinding, and type casting. Apprentices learn while working on book publishing projects, contract jobs, and type production.

PRINTING & BOOKBINDING
Arion Press, fine printers and publishers of deluxe limited edition books, offers training in typography, book design, letterpress printing, and bookbinding that will lead to long-term employment. Commitment is for a minimum two years of employment.

TYPECASTING AND FOUNDRY WORK
M & H Type, the oldest and largest surviving type foundry in the United States, offers training in typography, typecasting, and Monotype composition that will lead to long-term employment. Commitment is for a minimum four years of employment: two years in apprentice status, followed by at least two years in journeyman status.

Arion Press is not accepting applications at this time.

We wish we could accommodate all the talented and dedicated people who would like to come here to learn book making with us. Currently, we have two apprentices and two journeymen who have completed apprenticeships in the type foundry and two journeymen in the bindery who also completed apprenticeships. These people are also receiving training in the composing room and pressroom from a typographer/printer. We have a master typecaster and a master bookbinder, both part-time, who continue training in their departments. For the present we are not taking on any new apprentices. This situation could change in the future. If you should come to San Francisco, we would be happy to meet you and show you the facility during one of our weekly public tours on Thursday afternoons at 3:00 by reservation. The charge is $7 per person.

Exhibition in the Arion Press / Grabhorn Institute gallery

Ongoing and special exhibitions are
on view in the gallery, open weekdays.

Directions
Go west on Lake Street, turn right (north) on 14th Avenue, and enter the Presidio. To the right of the large hospital is a tall smokestack, which is 1802 Hays Street (in the Presidio). Follow the road up and around to the left. Parking is available in front of our building. For more detailed directions, click here.

Events & Lectures

For a full listing of Grabhorn Institute lectures and other events, please see our Events page. Also see photos of recent events.

Events take place in the gallery and frequently sell out. Please call or email to make a reservation.

 William T. Wiley at the Arion Press

William T. Wiley (center) with his wife, Mary Webster, and Andrew Hoyem. Wiley was the honored guest at the Grabhorn Institute 2008 Spring Benefit Dinner.

Through August 30, 2013: William Matthews: Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. Renowned watercolor artist William Matthews’ visions of the English garden setting of Stoppard’s great play, exhibited in honor of A.C.T’s new production running May 16 - June 9. On view are Matthews’ large-scale color prints of Sidley Park, as well as his original watercolors and the Arion Press edition of Arcadia.

Through August 30, 2013: Jim Dine’s Biotherm: Photogravures on the Frank O’Hara Poem. Artist Jim Dine’s interpretation of Frank O'Hara's famous poem, Biotherm, pays homage to the last long work by O'Hara, whose accidental death at age forty deprived America of one of its most innovative poets. Also on view are books and prints by Julie Mehretu, Kiki Smith, Raymond Pettibon, William T. Wiley, and Michael Kenna.

June 27, 2013: Reading by Poet Bill Berkson at 6 pm. Poet Bill Berkson reads from Frank O'Hara's poem, Biotherm, in connection with an exhibit of the Arion Press edition and the series of large photogravures made by Jim Dine, who knew both poets in New York in the 1950s. O'Hara's poem is dedicated to Berkson, who wrote a guide to the references in the poem included in the Arion Press edition. The reading is 6 pm, with a cocktail reception beginning at 5 pm. (Please note change of date.)

June 15, 2013: Arion Press Spring Open House and Sale. The Press is open for a sale and tours on from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. We only do this twice a year. Please tell your friends about this unusual opportunity to visit the Press on a weekend day. Join us for a gallery display of Arion books, prints, broadsides, photographs and posters, including special sale items. Tours of the typefoundry, press room, and bindery are at noon and 3 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

May 8 - June 3, 2013: Exhibition of Arion Press / Wendy Artin watercolors of Greek and Roman statuary for the new Arion Press edition by Seamus Heaney, Stone from Delphi, at the American Academy in Rome.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013: Grabhorn Institute Annual Spring Benefit Dinner. Special guest Ed Ruscha, the revered LA artist known for his paintings of words and letter forms, as well as making his own books. At the Arion Press, with cocktails, tours of the production facility, and a sit-down dinner. Read more: Benefit Dinner details and reservations.

Through April 19, 2013: Mark Ulriksen Exhibit. Egg tempera paintings by Mark Ulriksen for the Arion Press edition of A Day in the Bleachers are on display and for sale in the Arion Press Gallery. A Day in the Bleachers, by Arnold Hano, is the classic account of the Giant's victory in the 1954 World Series, including Willie Mays' famous "catch".

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.: San Francisco artist Mark Ulriksen gives an illustrated talk, “Under the Covers,” on his political and sports illustrations for The New Yorker. Reception at 5 p.m. Talk at 6 p.m. RSVP: 415-668-2542 or grabhorn@arionpress.com. Sponsored by National Endowment for the Arts and the Grabhorn Institute.

Through Feb. 28, 2013: Exhibition of Wendy Artin watercolors of Greek and Roman statuary for the new Arion Press edition by Seamus Heaney, Stone from Delphi. Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 at 6:00 p.m.: "Media inventor" Robin Sloan reads from his debut novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, his well-reviewed tale of books, code-breaking, data visualization, young love, typography, and the meaning of life — mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore. Reception at 5 p.m. Talk at 6 p.m. Book signing to follow. November 27. RSVP: 415-668-2542 or grabhorn@arionpress.com. Sponsored by National Endowment for the Arts and the Grabhorn Institute.

Thursday, June 28, 2012, 6:00 p.m.: Poet Diana O’Hehir reads from her new book, Walk Me to Schenectady. Refreshments from 5:00 p.m. She is the author of seven volumes of poetry, five novels, and founder of the Creative Writing Program at Mills College. RSVP: 510-647-8841 or grabhorn@arionpress.com. Sponsored by Depot Books and the Grabhorn Institute.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 6:00 p.m.: How Music Looks: The Printed Page a talk by composer and scholar Charles Boone about revolutionary ideas, beginning in the late 1950s, about the relation of musical notation to the music it represents. Sound and visual examples will abound. Reception beginning at 5p.m.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 6:00 p.m.: Screening of the documentary film Making Faces: Metal Type in the 21st Century. Making Faces is a fascinating design documentary by Richard Kegler that captures the personality and work process of the late Canadian graphic artist and type designer Jim Rimmer (1931-2010). 45 minutes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011, 6:00 p.m.: “Charlotte Salomon’s Life or Theater?: A Multimedia Artists’ Book,” a talk by Stanford visiting professor Mary Felstiner on the life of this Nazi-era artist. Working at a feverish pace over two years, the 24 year old refuge documented her Berlin girlhood of the 1920s and 1930s in 1,300 paintings combining image, texts, and musical notation. Three hundred paintings are on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum through July 31. Felstiner is the world authority on Charlotte Salomon and was awarded the American History Association Award for her 1994 biography of the artist. A reception begins at 5 p.m. RSVP required: (415) 668-2548 or grabhorn@arionpress.com. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 6:00 p.m.: Poet and translator Robert Pinsky. A reading from his recent work and historical selections by former United States Poet Laureate and author of the current Salon “Poem of the Month” feature. RSVP required: (415) 668-2548 or grabhorn@arionpress.com. Charge at the door: $10 per person. Refreshments from 5:00 p.m. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011: Grabhorn Institute Annual Spring Benefit Dinner. Special guests will be photographer Michael Kenna and Dallas art collector Marguerite Hoffman. In the gallery at Arion Press, with cocktails, tours of the production facility, and a sit down dinner. For ticket prices and details: call the Grabhorn Institute at (415) 668-2548 or e-mail grabhorn@arionpress.com, or read more about the special guests and the benefit and reserve online.

Thursday, March 10, 2011, in New York City: Exhibition “A Landmark Don Quixote: Books, Prints, Drawings for the Arion Press 2010 edition with artist William T. Wiley,” The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, 684 Park Avenue, New York. Opening reception, 5 to 8:30 p.m., and lecture, 6 p.m., with William T. Wiley, translator Edith Grossman, and publisher Andrew Hoyem. Exhibition runs through April 20. Lecture RSVP required: grabhorn@arionpress.com. Co-sponsored by the Americas Society. 

Friday, February 25, 2011, 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.: “ARTseed Students Interpret Don Quixote” Reception and exhibition of work by students from diverse San Francisco backgrounds at the Presidio 2010 summer art camp run by ARTseed. After watching the Arion Press production of its edition of Don Quixote, students made their own Quixote-inspired collages, prints, and puppets on display here. RSVP required: (415) 668-2548 or grabhorn@arionpress.com. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010:"Sidney Paget’s Sherlock Holmes: Conversation with the Collector" on Tuesday, October 26, 2010. Book collector Glen Miranker will discuss Paget and his association with The Strand Magazine, Sherlock Holmes, and Arthur Conan Doyle. The talk begins at 6 p.m., with refreshments from 5 p.m. RSVP required: (415) 668-2548 or grabhorn@arionpress.com. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Monday, October 4, 2010: "The King James Bible and the Resonance of American Prose (Melville to Hemingway and Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy and Marilynne Robinson)", a talk by Robert Alter, Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley. Alter is author of The Bible as Literature and translator of Genesis, Psalms, and Daniel. Monday October 4, 2010, 6:00 p.m. Refreshments from 5:00 p.m. RSVP: 415-668-2548 or grabhorn@arionpress.com. Robert Alter’s Pen of Iron: American Writers and the King James Bible available to be signed. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010: Exhibition and Reception for Grabhorn Fellows. 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Artist books by the 2010 Fellows will be displayed in the gallery, with a program of comments by the student artists.

Tuesday, April 27, 6:30 p.m. Grabhorn Institute Spring Benefit Dinner with guest of honor Julie Mehretu. Acclaimed American artist Julie Mehretu will be honored at the annual dinner benefiting the non-profit Grabhorn Institute on April 27 at Arion Press. The Benefit is a sit-down dinner for 140 held here in the Arion Press gallery, preceded by cocktails in the pressroom and tours of the production areas. It is known for the excellence of the food and wine, the wit of the artist's remarks, and the brevity of other speeches. For reservations or information call the Grabhorn Institute at (415) 668-2548 or e-mail grabhorn@arionpress.com, or read more about the artist and the benefit and reserve online.

Friday, April 30: Jungian analyst John Beebe and others from the San Francisco Jung Institute on “Publishing Jung’s Red Book after Nearly a Century”. Co-sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts. Seating is limited; more information will be posted.

Monday, March 1, 2010. Celebrating the publication of Don Quixote, illustrated by William T. Wiley, with a cocktail reception and a slide lecture on illustrated editions of Cervantes by Dr. Charles Faulhaber, Director of the Bancroft Library: "The Iconography of Don Quixote: A Tour of 350 Years of Printing History", and remarks by artist William T. Wiley. Talk and exhibit supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Gleeson Library at the University of San Francisco.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010. Celebrating Lewis Mitchell, Master Typecaster, on his sixty years of employment at Mackenzie & Harris, aka M & H Type, from 5:30 to 7:30. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the type foundry and pressroom; 1802 Hays Street, The Presidio, San Francisco. Co-sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts.

-2009 EVENTS-

Monday, October 26, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Eric Karpeles, artist and author of the acclaimed new study Paintings in Proust, will give an illustrated talk entitled "My Book is a Painting: How Paintings Informed the Making of Proust's Great Novel". Refreshments at 5:00 p.m., talk at 6:00. Seating is limited, so reserve early. R.S.V.P. 415-668-2548 or grabhorn@arionpress.com. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Monday, September 21, 5:00 p.m. Inner Light Books publisher Charles Martin talk, “Quaker Publishing: Reviving Lost Classics for the 21st Century”. Inner Light Books publishes books by and about Quakers and books that examine Quaker values. Reception at 5:00 p.m., talk at 6:00 p.m. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Friday, August 14, 5:00 p.m. Closing reception and exhibition for the 2009 Grabhorn Fellows, a group of ten outstanding book arts students from around the country, selected by the College Book Art Association. Held concurrently with an exhibition and discussion of the Fellows' artist books in the gallery.
      This was the inaugural year of the Grabhorn Fellows program, a week-long residency workshop sponsored by the nonprofit Grabhorn Institute, where students learned about the running of a fine press, from concept and design, through typography, printing, and binding, to sales and marketing. This annual program is co-sponsored by the College Book Art Association. For more information, please contact us.

Wednesday, April 22, 6:00 p.m. Grabhorn Institute Spring Benefit Dinner with guest of honor Stephen Shore. The annual benefit is a sit-down dinner in the Arion Press gallery, preceded by cocktails in the pressroom and tours of the production areas. This year's guest of honor was renowned New York photographer Stephen Shore. In 2004, Shore illustrated the Arion Press edition of Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence with thirty-four photographs.
      Stephen Shore has made available the sale of five new prints, in editions of three, at $2,500 each. The proceeds of these sales benefit the Grabhorn Institute's programs in preservation and education, including our apprenticeships, tours, lecture series, and gallery exhibitions. Images of the photographs may be viewed and ordered online here.

Wednesday, March 11, 5:00 p.m. Talk by noted historian Fred Kaplan, "Abraham Lincoln as a Writer". Professor Kaplan is the biographer of Mark Twain and Henry James and the author of the recent Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, which is cited as among the latest reading of President Obama. Reception at 5 p.m., talk at 6 p.m. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Book Club of California, and the Brick Row Book Shop.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 6:00 p.m. Book artist and cultural critic Johanna Drucker on "Writing as a Printer, Printing as a Writer". Drucker is the Bernard and Martin Breslauer Professor of Bibliography at UCLA. Her scholarly work includes Sweet Dreams: Contemporary Art and Complicity (2005) and Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide, with Emily McVarish (2008). On display will be a number of Drucker's artist's books with her own writing and images. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the Book Club of California and the National Endowment for the Arts.

2008 Grabhorn Events

Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 5:00 p.m. Celebrate the 400th anniversary of John Milton's birthday (9 December 1608 - 8 November 1674). At 6:00, Andrew Hoyem gives a lecture on “Milton's Paradise Lost Regained”. An exhibition of early and special editions of Paradise Lost, Milton's great work, will include the Baskerville edition as well as the Arion Press typographic limited edition, with commentaries by Blake scholar Robert N. Essick and Milton scholar John Shawcross, and accompanied by our William Blake portfolio. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Sunday, October 12, 2008, 6:00 p.m. Novelist Diane Johnson signs and reads from her latest book, Lulu in Marrakech. Johnson is the author of the introduction to the Arion Press edition of The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Sponsored by Dutton Books.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008, 6:00 p.m. Double-feature screening of legendary films of plays by Samuel Beckett. See event photos.
At 6 p.m.: Krapp's Last Tape with Irish actor Jack MacGowran. Directed for TV by Alan Schneider in 1971 but never shown.
At 7 p.m.: Buffet dinner.
At 8 p.m.: Waiting for Godot with Zero Mostel and Burgess Meredith. Directed by Alan Schneider in 1961 for PBS WNET.
Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the Book Club of California and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008, 6:00 p.m. William Stout on “Collecting Frank Lloyd Wright”, an informal talk by architect and publisher William Stout, with a viewing of rare items from his personal collection of books and graphics by and about Wright. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Book Club of California. See event photos.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 6:00 p.m. The annual Grabhorn Institute Spring Benefit Dinner. With honored guest William T. Wiley, who has upcoming retrospectives at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and at the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. See also the special offering of Wiley prints and a drawing.

Lectures and other events are held in the Grabhorn/Arion gallery

Lectures and other events are held
in the Grabhorn/Arion gallery.

Tuesday, February 26, 6:00 p.m. Helvetica screening. The documentary by Gary Hustwit, released in 2007 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the type's introduction. Supported by the Book Club of California, the San Francisco Center for the Book and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Friday, January 4, 2008, 5:00 p.m. The premier showings of The Household of Robert Duncan and Jess: An Intimate Portrait of a Legendary Home, a documentary by Christopher Wagstaff and David Fratto, and an excerpt from Peekaboo Flicks, home movies made by Jess, 1981-91. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Book Club of California.

2007 Grabhorn Events

September 10, 2007, 6:00 p.m. Printing by R. R. Donnelley is the subject of a talk and display. Chicago printing scholar Kim Coventry gives an illustrated talk on the history of R. R. Donnelley, founded 140 years ago and now the nation's largest printing operation, as part of the Grabhorn Institute Lecture Series.

Exhbiit of artist bookbindings by Jill Tarlau

Exhbiit of artist bookbindings by Jill Tarlau

Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. Opening reception for the exhibit “Pj’s on the Qt: selected Tangrams / more pieces to the puzzle”. Tangram is the limited edition press of Jerry Reddan, longtime printer for Arion Press, and has published many wonderful small books of poetry and prose by prominent writers including Jim Dodge and Barry Lopez. The exhibition is sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute and supported by The Book Club of California and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007, 6:00 p.m. Award-winning author Adam Hochschild with an illustrated talk entitled “Twelve Men in a Print Shop”, marking the two hundredth anniversary of Britain’s abolition of the slave trade. The abolition campaign was launched in James Phillips’s print shop in George Yard, London, on May 22, 1787, an event not seen in the anniversary film Amazing Grace. Adam Hochschild is author of Bury the Chains, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History, and the PEN USA Literary Award for Research Non-Fiction. His appearance is sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Book Club of California, the English-Speaking Union, and PEN USA.

Artist John Baldessari with Andrew Hoyem at Grabhorn Institute Benefit Dinner

Artist John Baldessari, shown with
Andrew Hoyem, as honoree at
2007 Grabhorn Institute Benefit Dinner

Tuesday April 24, 2007, 6:00 p.m. The Grabhorn Institute Spring Benefit Dinner. Guest of honor: artist John Baldessari. A celebration benefiting the Institute's programs in the history of printing, the art of the book, preservation, and education, including apprenticeships in typecasting, printing, and bookbinding.

March 19 to April 18, 2007. “Jill Oriane Tarlau: Embroidered Bindings.” An exhibition of 22 bindings using rare and luxurious materials by internationally renowned bookbinder Jill Tarlau. Sponsored by the Grabhorn Institute and the Book Club of California with support from the National Endowment of the Arts.

M&H Type Foundry tour

A tour group in the historic M & H Type
foundry, which dates to 1915.

Apprenticeship Program

The Grabhorn Institute supports two apprenticeship programs for Arion Press and M & H Type, which provide training in the crafts of typography, letterpress printing, bookbinding, and type casting. These programs are designed to lead to long-term employment. Apprentices learn while working on publishing projects, contract jobs, and production for the two divisions. Read more.

Grabhorn Institute Background

San Francisco is home to a rare survivor from the era of printing from metal: a complete, traditional bookmaking facility that includes the last fully functioning typefoundry in the nation. It is one of the few places in the world where one can see, under one roof, the entire process by which a book is made: from design, casting of type, printing, illustration, and binding. It is comprised of two entities, the Arion Press, a leader in the contemporary fine-press movement that traces its lineage back to 1920 and the illustrious Grabhorn Press, and M & H Type, begun in 1915 with equipment that came to San Francisco for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, some still in operation.

Andrew Hoyem showing artist books to a tour group

Andrew Hoyem shows visitors
a selection of artist books.

Together, Arion Press and M & H Type employ skills and equipment from every era of printing, but especially letterpress printing. Much of the equipment is of historic value: Monotype typecasting machines, twelve printing presses, a full book bindery, and a vast collection of typefaces and tools passed down from such illustrious San Francisco printers as John Henry Nash and the brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn. This equipment is still working and in use.

Such an assemblage of tools, type, and equipment, if dispersed, could never be reassembled. Yet dismantling this facility seemed inevitable in 1999, when Arion Press and M & H Type lost the lease on a 10,000 square-foot space on Bryant Street in the South-of-Market area, a result of the influx of dot-com companies into San Francisco. While the business revenue was sufficient to continue publishing activities in smaller quarters, it was not sufficient to re-house the entire historic factory and to keep it intact in the decades to come. These preservationist responsibilities required ongoing public support.

Objectives

Therefore, the nonprofit Grabhorn Institute was formed in 2000 to preserve this historic printing resource and ensure its continued use for the benefit of society. Its immediate objectives were support for the move to new quarters in the Presidio of San Francisco and configuring the building to allow public access while setting up an organizational and financial structure for public programs at the facility. Its ultimate objective continues to be the facility's evolution into an educational and cultural center and a living, working museum.

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti with portrait by R.B. Kitaj

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading
in the gallery with his portrait
by R.B. Kitaj

Location

We were extremely fortunate in being chosen as a cultural tenant at the new national park in the Presidio of San Francisco. An architecturally striking 1928 industrial building was renovated for our operation. It is the Presidio's steam plant near the park entrance at Lake Street and 15th Avenue. Our move there began in February 2001 and brought us within a mile of the spot where some of our vintage typecasting equipment was first displayed at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. As a cultural tenant, we are expected to invite public access. In turn, the Presidio's publications and public relations operations promote the cultural and educational activities at our facility.

Federal Recognition

In November 2000, our historic assemblage of equipment was designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as part of "the nation's irreplaceable historical and cultural legacy" under its Save America's Treasures program. We share this honor with such significant Bay Area sites as the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, the stained glass windows in Grace Cathedral, and the Angel Island Immigration Station. This designation has encouraged widespread support for the Grabhorn Institute.

Demonstration of handsewing a book

Demonstration of handsewing a book
in the bindery

According to National Trust president Richard Moe, "While preservation has traditionally focused on historic buildings and sites, the Save America's Treasures program encompasses culturally diverse documents, artifacts, and even industrial equipment, such as the recent official project designation for the Grabhorn Institute's hot-metal typecasting and letterpress printing operation. Few such operations exist today, and it richly deserves the visibility that the Save America's Treasures program will bring." Moe added that it is "especially gratifying to learn that [the Grabhorn Institute] will now be housed in the historic Presidio."

Legal Charter

The Grabhorn Institute received its nonprofit 501(c)(3) designation from the Internal Revenue Service in November 2000. Its tax identification number is 94-3363125. It is named in honor of the Grabhorn brothers, Edwin and Robert, who established their press in San Francisco in 1920 and were the most prominent fine printers in the country for more than forty years.

Management Profile

Andrew Hoyem, founder and Director of Arion Press

Andrew Hoyem

Andrew Hoyem, Ex-officio
Executive Director, Grabhorn Institute
Publisher and Fine Printer, Arion Press, San Francisco

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Philip Bowles, Chairman and Director
Agribusiness Executive; Book Collector
Former Board Chair of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.

Diana Ketcham, Secretary and Director
Writer and Editor
Former Book Editor, Oakland Tribune.

William P. Barlow, Jr., Treasurer and Director
C.P.A., Historian of Printing
Instructor in Bibliography, University of Virginia.

Nancy Abbey, Director
Art and Fine Printing Enthusiast
Former Board Member, the Katherine Delmar Burke School

William T. Buice, III, Director
Senior Counsel: Davidson, Dawson & Clark, Attorneys at Law
Past President of The Grolier Club, NYC, and of the Keats-Shelley Association of America
Chair of The Rare Book School, Charlottesville, VA

Leslie Berriman, Director
Publishing Professional, San Francisco,  Executive Editor, Pearson Education, Applied Sciences

Kevin King, Director
Artist and Art Patron, San Francisco
Board Member, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SFMOMA, Grace Cathedral

Helyn MacLean, Director
Art Collector, Marketing Professional, Palo Alto, California 
Former Board Member, San Jose Art Museum, Wellesley College Art Museum 

Wilhelm Oehl, Director
Founder and Vice-President, Eight Inc.

Paul L. Wattis III, Director
Construction Company Executive and Art Patron
Director, Paul L. Wattis Foundation
Board Member: Berkeley Art Museum, FAMSF

Roselyne C. Swig, Director Emeritus
Art Consultant, San Francisco
Former Director, Arts in the Embassies Program.

Gathering pages in the bindery

Gathering pages in the bindery

STAFF


Diana Ketcham, editorial and program director

Lyssa Black, office manager and bookkeeper

Gerald Reddan, master printer and typographer

Lewis Mitchell, master typecaster

Leif Erlandsson, master bookbinder

Blake Riley, printer

Sarah Songer, bookbinder

Rochelle Youk, apprentice bookbinder

Brian Ferrett, typecaster

Christopher Godek, apprentice typecaster

Mark Sarigianis, apprentice typecaster

Thomas Gladysz, sales and marketing

Kaelyn Davis, administrative assistant

visitors in the gallery

Visitors in the gallery

Contributors

The Grabhorn Institute is a nonprofit organization that was formed in 2000 for the purpose of preserving and continuing the use of one of the last integrated typefoundry, letterpress printing, and bookbinding facilities, and operating it as a living museum and educational and cultural center. As a 501(c)(3) organization, contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. To make a secure online donation now, please click here, or you may print, fill out, and mail in a contribution form with your donation.

Directions

Building 1802 in the Presidio is marked on the map below in yellow. Click on the map for a larger view or click here for a map of the entire Presidio (note: this map does not reflect current construction).

Directions: We are located just inside the Presidio entrance on 14th Avenue off of Lake Street, on the Richmond/Sea Cliff southern side of the Presidio. Once inside the entrance, proceed to the stop sign in front of the Public Health hospital. To the right of the hospital is a tall smokestack, which is Arion Press, building 1802. Turn right at the stop sign onto Wedemeyer and follow the road up and around to the left, where it becomes Hays Street. Parking is available in front of our building and around the small public park on Brown Street and Belles Street (see map).

From downtown: Go west on California Street to Fifteenth Avenue, turn right and continue across Lake Street, enter the Presidio, and proceed as above.
From the north: From Highway 101: After the Golden Gate Bridge take the Nineteenth Avenue/Park Presidio Boulevard exit; at the first intersection after the tunnel turn right onto Lake Street, right onto Fifteenth Avenue, enter the Presidio, and proceed as above.
From the south: Take Nineteenth Avenue north to California Street. Turn right onto California, left onto Funston Avenue, left onto Lake Street, cross over Nineteenth Avenue, turn right onto Fifteenth Avenue, and proceed as above.
Public transportation:
From the east or west: Take any of the following bus lines and get off at the Park-Presidio stop: 1-California, 2-Clement, or 38-Geary. Walk to Fourteenth Avenue, walk north through the walking entrance into the Presidio at Fourteenth Avenue and Lake Street, and proceed as above.
From the north or south: Take the 28-Nineteenth Avenue bus line and get off at the California Street stop. Walk to Fourteenth Avenue, walk north through the walking entrance into the Presidio at Fourteenth Avenue and Lake Street, and proceed as above.

Contact

For questions, suggestions, or to discuss making a contribution to the Grabhorn Institute, please contact Andrew Hoyem or Diana Ketcham at:

Grabhorn Institute
1802 Hays Street, The Presidio
San Francisco, CA 94129
Telephone: 415-668-2548
Fax: 415-668-2550
E-mail: grabhorn@arionpress.com
Web site: www.arionpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Recognition for
the Grabhorn Institute

An irreplaceable legacy
The Grabhorn Institute is designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as part of "the nation's irreplaceable historical and cultural legacy" under its Save America's Treasures program, in recognition of the Institute's work to preserve the typecasting and letterpress printing operation of Arion Press and M & H Type.

California Heritage Council
The Grabhorn Institute has been recognized with a California Heritage Council Award in 2002 for "preservation of the last fully functioning type foundry and integrated letterpress printing facility."

William Stout talk and exhibit on books by and about Frank Lloyd Wright

William Stout speaking on books designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright

Preserving historic equipment and keeping alive disappearing crafts
"The collaboration among Arion Press, M & H Type, and the Grabhorn Institute is a model for preserving historic manufacturing equipment, keeping alive disappearing crafts, and printing beautiful artifacts — all in one enterprise." –Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

A model of adaptive use
"I am writing in support of the Arion Press/Grabhorn Institute, a rare historic printing operation in San Francisco. In the last decade, Arion Press has been perfectly relocated in the laundry facility of the former Presidio Hospital overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Their use of the space is a model of adaptive use that is consistent with the Presidio Trust's aims for the former US Army base. In my view as a preservationist, the Arion Press at the Presidio is a great fit." –John H. Stubbs, Vice President Field Projects, World Monuments Fund

“There is now no other business like it anywhere in the world. You are, so far as I know, truly unique in the literal and only sense of the word.” –Richard Lawrence, Oxford, England

Journeyman Kenny Howard working with apprentice Brian Ferrett

Journeyman Kenny Howard and apprentice Brian Ferrett in the composing room

Presidio's Future: More Culture
"The Presidio Trust plan emphasizes 'diverse and meaningful visitor experiences.' The best example is Arion Press, a publisher with roots in San Francisco stretching back to 1920. Its editions of such classics as Moby-Dick and contemporary works that pair poets and artists are considered to be among the most exquisitely printed books in the world." –John King, San Francisco Chronicle

School group listening to a speaker in the gallery

School group listening to a speaker
in the gallery

“In the UK, none of the main typefoundries are producing any more. This situation is mirrored across Europe. Consequently, M & H is of international importance to the art and craft of letterpress.” –Justin Knopp, Director of the Anchor Press Museum, Essex, England.

“Arion Press books are the gold standard for fine presses today.” –Peter Kraus, Ursus Books, New York.

Seamus Heaney reading from his poetry in the gallery

Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney reading in the gallery, May 2006


Email News List
Join our email news list to receive notices regarding the Grabhorn Institute and Arion Press. Join now.

Andrew Hoyem conducting a school tour

Andrew Hoyem conducting a school tour


Virtual Panoramic Tour
Browse panoramic images of the pressroom, typefoundry, book bindery, and gallery. View now.


Press and Typefoundry Video

Video Tour
See a video tour of M & H Type and Arion Press from CBS Sunday Morning. View now.