A New Fine Press Edition of “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman

arion leaves of grass title page interior 1

“A holy book of the nation, along with the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence,” – poet laureate Robert Hass on Leaves of Grass

To mark their one-hundredth publication the noted fine press publisher Arion Press has chosen the 1855 first edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.

 Chosen in part as a tribute to the publisher’s predecessors Edwin and Robert Grabhorn, whose masterpiece was their 1930 edition of the Whitman poem.

“I thought Arion Press might do something with Whitman’s poetry that was different as to the text and yet pay tribute to the 1930 edition by using a similar format, production methods, and materials, but with a new design,” Hoyem writes in the prospectus for this new edition.

arion leaves of grass title page bindingThe technical details of this jewel:

Leaves of Grass has been handset, for the poetry, in an 18-point Goudy typeface, Californian, initially designed as a private type for the University of California Press in 1936-38. Monotype composition-casting is used for the 14-point size of the introduction, preface, and other subsidiary material. The folio format is 13-7/8 by 10 inches. The paper is a special making of Langley from the Barcham Green Mill in England, with watermarks of the mill and of Arion Press, with its lyre pressmark. It was dampened before printing to soften the fibers and make the paper more receptive to the inked type. The paper had been ordered in 1985 and saved for a special project, and is now used, appropriately, for the press’s one-hundredth book. The presswork for the 156-page book was done on a 1915 Thomson Laureate platen press, 14 by 22 inches, considered the best machine ever made for hand-fed printing.

The edition is limited to 275 copies with Arabic numerals for sale and 15 copies with Roman numerals for complimentary distribution to participants in the project.

arion leaves of grass title page


Here is the 1930 Grabhorn Press edition:

Grabhorn leaves of grassimage via Bonhams

More at The Arion Press website: “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman 

Book Design and the Native American Experience


Minsky indian-horros-shadow-500Indian Horrors by Henry Davenport Northrop. Unsigned cover design. Imperial, 1891

The latest work from the scholarly side of the venerable Richard Minsky is Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933.  Minsky gathers together 120 books designed by many of the leading illustrators and book designers of the day. From kids books to captivity narratives to fiction and “fiction purporting to be truth, including a white missionary writing under a pseudonym as an Indian Chief, and a multiracial black man, son of a school janitor, writing as a pureblood Blackfoot Chief.”

minsky yosemite-legendsYosemite Legends by Bertha Smith. Cover by Florence Lundborg. Paul Elder, 1904

minsky amind-dance stepsAmerican Indian Dance Steps by Bessie Evans and May G. Evans. Unsigned cover design incorporating frontispiece by Poyege, San Ildefonso Indian. A. S. Barnes, 1931

nat am book design vanising raceThe Vanishing Race by Dr. Joseph K. Dixon (Ka-Ra-Kon-Tie ― Flying Sun ― Mohawk). Unsigned cover design.  Doubleday, Page, 1914

minsky nat am _installation-View from the exhibition

As is now customary with his curated exhibitions Minsky utilizes his book art skills to produced  stunning limited edition catalogs. 

For this exhibit he offers both a Deluxe edition of 25 copies and a Limited Edition of 100 copies.

Beautiful stuff.

More from the exhibition







Books in art help tell the story

Francois Boucher’s ‘Madame de Pompadour’, 1756 detail‘Madame de Pompadour’ by Francois Boucher, 1756,

As many of you who regularly check in with Book Patrol know, the representation of the book in art is one of the cornerstones of our foundation.

Over at the British Library’s Collection Care blog Christina Duffy looks at the value of books depicted in art as it relates to the history of bookbinding. Fueled by her week of studying European Bookbinding (1450-1820) at the London Rare Books School Duffy shows us how the “keen eye of the artist has captured precise details when depicting books throughout history, showing sewing structures, stitch types, supports, covers and even how they were stored.”

Francois Boucher’s ‘Madame de Pompadour’, 1756‘Madame de Pompadour’ detail

While Duffy’s focus is mostly on how the art of the past can be beneficial in the study of how books where made it is clear that this type of study can also be used in the study of the cultural, social and economic conditions of days gone by.


Guercino’s ‘Portrait of Lawyer Francesco Righetti’Guercino’s ‘Portrait of Lawyer Francesco Righetti’

st jeromeMarinus van Reymerswale’s ‘St Jerome in his Study’, 16th century.

st jerome detaildetail ‘St Jerome in his Study’

 alexandre-antigna-la-fille-du-bouquiniste (1855),‘La fille du bouquiniste’  by Alexandre Antigna, (1855)

Books depicted in art – Collection Care blog.
Books and Art at Book Patrol
Book Patrol’s Books and Art Pinterest board