Arion Press Classics, 1975-2018

Swan’s Fine Books is proud to announce the offering of Arion Press publications from the retired publisher’s personal stock, beginning February 2024:  these are pristine copies, in their original wrapping.

We are working directly with Arion Press founder Andrew Hoyem and his wife Diana Ketcham to represent titles from among the 113 created by Hoyem from 1975 until his retirement in 2018, including many with acclaimed artists such as William Kentridge, Kiki Smith, Wayne Thiebaud, and Kara Walker.

Arion Press is often called the most important fine press of the mid 20th century through early 21st century, known for monumental undertakings such as Joyce’s Ulysses, Melville’s Moby-Dick, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and a letterpress printed Bible-among more than 100 works of poetry, fiction, history, and science, including specially commissioned texts and new translations. 

In the words of historian Robert Bringhurst, Andrew Hoyem’s career was “unrivalled, given the literary importance and scale of Arion Press books, the variety of literature and techniques employed, his revival of the French livres d’artiste tradition through collaborations with some of the most prominent writers and artists of his era, and in his sheer productivity.”  Stanford historian Peter Stansky has compared Arion Press’s achievement to that of William Morris, Virginia and Leonard Woolf at Hogarth Press, and Ambrose Vollard.  Arion books were included among the greatest books of the 20the century in “A Century of Artist Books” at the Museum of Modern Art and the era’s one hundred greatest books in “A Century for the Century” exhibition at the Grolier Club.  The Press has been the subject of documentaries by the PBS-TV NewsHour and by Anthony Bourdain.

San Francisco printer and publisher Andrew Hoyem (b. 1935) studied printing at the renowned Grabhorn Press, where he worked in the early 1960s while publishing Beat poetry as a partner in Auerhahn Press. He then formed a partnership with Robert Grabhorn, upon whose death he founded Arion Press, in 1974, with additional equipment and type purchased from the Grabhorn Press. In 1989, Hoyem greatly expanded the capacity of Arion Press by purchasing and preserving Mackenzie & Harris, the nation’s oldest surviving typefoundry, thereby creating a unique working museum where the traditional bookmaking crafts, from making type from molten lead through printing and binding, are practiced under one roof. In 2000, Hoyem and Ketcham founded the educational non-profit The Grabhorn Institute. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has designated this workshop one of the nation’s “irreplaceable cultural treasures.”

We are adding available titles to our web site a few at a time.  You can find a list here for the titles currently available.  More will be added within the next few weeks, so please do check back.

As always, should you have questions, please contact Laurelle Swan, Proprietor, Swan’s Fine Books.

 

Andrew Hoyem inspects a freshly printed sheet for alignment and ink coverage.

Photography by Frank Wing ©