THE ARION PRESS is a unique press that includes a letterpress shop with a one-of-a-kind collection of historic metal typefaces, a type foundry now in continuous operation for over 100 years, and a complete hand book bindery, all housed in a 14,000 square foot industrial building in San Francisco’s Presidio National Park.
Its origins reach back to 1919, when the brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn established the Grabhorn Press, which became one of the foremost fine printing establishments in the United States from the early 1920s to the mid-1960s. They were proponents of what the great bookmaker Bruce Rogers called “allusive printing,” in which the selection of type, decoration, and page layout alluded to aspects of the books’ contents. In 1974, Arion Press was officially formed, utilizing Grabhorn Press’s vast and distinctive holdings of type and equipment and launched a series of limited-edition books, printed by letterpress and bound by hand.
To this day, the list of Arion publications is characterized by its diversity, with titles that range from ancient literature to modern classics. The Press has also developed new material for publication, and resurrected “lost” texts.
In 2022, Engaging the Senses Foundation helped support the reprinting of poet and performing artist Patti Smith’s seminal book Woolgathering, a memoir of the creative process and its wellspring in the world of childhood, with added photograms by visual and sound artist Christian Marclay.In 2022 and 2023, ETSF is partnering with Arion Press to create a book based on quotes and poetic passages from The Story of Everything, Hawai‘i poet Kealoha’s spoken word multimedia theater presentation, now a film by ETSF, enhanced and illustrated by images from visual artist’s Solomon Enos’ artworks, which are also featured in the film.