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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Roxburghe Club meeting, San Francisco 1968

Here's a 1968 announcement card for a meeting of the Roxburghe Club in San Francisco.


The featured speaker is William R. Holman, former director of the San Francisco Public Library, as well as the Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas. He wore and continues to wear many other hats, i.e., printer, book designer, publisher, and writer (The Orphans' Nine Commandments).


The Grabhorn-Hoyem Press designed and printed this card (5.5 x 8.5 inches), with its interesting typeface and partial border design. They and other printers in the San Francisco area were the subject of an 8mm film shot by Holman before he left San Francisco in 1967 for the University of Texas. The following year, 1968, he presented his film during a talk at the Roxburghe Club meeting on December 10th.


Last month, I asked Mr. Holman about this piece, with respect to his film and talk at the Roxburghe Club. He said he shot the super 8mm film, describing it as "poorly made," of the Bay Area fine printers. A few months ago, he wrote a brief script for the film, both of which are now in his archives at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

The original, and still active, Roxburghe Club was founded in 1812 in England and is the oldest bibliophile society in the world. More than a hundred years later, an American version emerged in San Francisco, April 3, 1928 to be exact.

You can read a brief history of the San Francisco club at the Online Archive of California (OAC). As it honors the original club in England by sharing the name, it also shares in the character of the original, with book collectors, booksellers, fine book printers, and bookbinders comprising its membership. These bibliophiles pursue scholarly interests and further the appreciation of fine printing and books in general.

They also print and publish various kinds of ephemera. According to the OAC:
Over the years, hundreds of announcements, keepsakes, and other letterpress items have been printed by members, as typographic souvenirs and gifts for the enjoyment of the membership. Meetings of the club have included many distinguished speakers such as Ansel Adams, Mortimer Adler, Frederic and Bertha Goudy, Alfred A. Knopf, Christopher Morley, and Lewis Mumford.
This meeting announcement for the William R. Holman talk is a prime example of the kind of ephemera members produce.

The club also publishes books. In fact, the Master of the Press (President) listed on this announcement card, Duncan Olmstead, published a book about the printed ephemera of the club: 40 Years: A Chronology of Announcements & Keepsakes. The Roxburghe Club of San Francisco 1928-1967 (1968).

The Grabhorn-Hoyem Press (now Arion Press), which printed this announcement card, is legendary in the Bay Area and American fine printing circles. The Grabhorn Press was founded in 1919 by the Grabhorn brothers, Robert and Edwin. The Grabhorn-Hoyem partnership began in 1966 after Edwin Grabhorn died. The tradition of typographic design and fine printing continued, and after Robert Grabhorn's death in 1973, Andrew Hoyem formed the Arion Press in 1974.

The genealogy of the Arion Press is recounted HERE on the Arion Press Web site with the direct ancestry of the Grabhorn Brothers and Andrew Hoyem, as well as other influential printers, typographers, and book designers who contributed to the evolution of the Bay Area's reputation and tradition for fine printing.

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