Columbia Library columns (v.15(1965Nov-1966May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.15,no.2(1966:Feb): Page 23  

Salute to Edwin and Robert:
The Grabhorn Press


This article is an adaptation by the author of an address which
he gave on December 2, 1^6;, as one of a series on the "Heritage
of the Graphic Arts." The series is being presented by Dr.
Robert L. Leslie.                                                      editor's note


.ANIEL Berkeley Updike, the great Boston printer,
once said in an address that was billed as his message
to his fellow craftsmen, "Printing is a trade and not
an art, but it has frontiers on the arts." Now it would be very
difficult indeed to select any printer from any period or place
who would have fewer points of similarity with Updike than
the brothers Grabhorn have, but I believe nevertheless that, deep
in their hearts, they would agree with his statement—though I
also believe that they would laugh at anyone who would say so.
Edwin and Robert Grabhorn have most a,s,suredly practiced the
trade of printing as an art, and the books which they have pro¬
duced over what is now almost half a century have their source
in an artistic inspiration which, if it is not in fact unique, is at
any rate very rare among American printers. Grabhorn books
have a personality, a hall-mark, an aura; like Kelmscott books,
they can be imitated but thev cannot be equalled at the hands
of imitators.

But before this discussion becomes too deeply enmired in the
philosophy of "fine printing" and its relatiomship with "art,"
perhaps I should say a little of the history and background of
these two typographical geniuses who w ork in the glow" of the
Golden Gate. F'dwin Grabhorn is the elder of the two; he was
born in 1890 (or thereabouts—the authorities can't agree and
the Library of won't venture a guess; and who would

  v.15,no.2(1966:Feb): Page 23