A Memoir of Book Design, 1969-2000

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By Joseph J. D’Ambrosio, 2003.

A pre-eminent “artist working in the book medium,” Joseph J. D’Ambrosio has painstakingly recorded the processes by which he has created his groundbreaking works–noting his false starts and failures as well as his successes. He analyzes his motives behind the inventive structures and designs so highly prized by collectors, museums, and libraries. D’Ambrosio delves honestly and wittily into his own creativity, and the book is a gem, with copious illustrations of his oeuvre.

11 ¼ x 8 ¼ inches. 224 pp.  Over a hundred photographs. Bound in black cloth. Designed by D’Ambrosio and printed offset by Lithotech, Phoenix, Arizona. Edition 350 copies.

Price: $175.00

A Valiant Enterprise: A History of the Talisman Press, 1951-1993, Printers, Publishers, and Antiquarian Booksellers

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By Robert Greenwood, 2007.

The Account traces the evolution of book-related adventures of Robert Greenwood and Newton Baird, founders of the Press. From publishing a quarterly poetry magazine to discovering a “ghost” book, to establishing a non-profit arm (Talisman Literary Research), to becoming book dealers, the pair has enjoyed the respect and admiration of the publishing world. Includes a bibliography of books published by the Talisman Press, a bibliography of books published by Talisman Literary Research, Inc., a supplement to California Imprints 1833–1862, and a complete index.

Designed by Jack W. Stauffacher of The Greenwood Press. 7 ¼  x 11 inches. 384 pp.  Includes eight photographs and illustrations from the author’s collection. Edition 350 copies.

Price: $150.00

Benjamin C. Truman: California Booster & Bon Vivant

By Gary F. Kurutz, 1984.

A prolific and talented writer of numerous articles and several books on California themes, Truman seems an excellent choice to inaugurate “Literary Profiles,” a new series devoted to authors whose contributions to the literary scene of the American West were significant but not fully appreciated.  A companion volume to Knights of the Lash.

Printed at the Grace Hoper Press (Sherwood Grover).  9 1/16 x 6 1/16 inches. 94 pp. Edition 600 copies.

Price: $27.50

Charles and Kathleen Norris: The Courtship Year

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Edited by Richard Allan Davison, 1993.

Charles Norris and his fiancée, Kathleen Thompson, exchanged daily letters during one year of their engagement. The Norrises were to become one of the most acclaimed literary couples of the era, but during the year he ventured to New York while she remained in San Francisco, they coped with a variety of practical problems–as well as with a difficult separation.

Designed and printed letterpress by W. Thomas Taylor. 11 ¼ x 8 ¼ inches. 167 pp. Includes eighteen photographs of Charles and Kathleen’s life. Bound in red cloth. Edition 400 copies.

Price: $85.00

Clio on the Coast: The Writing of California History, 1845-1945

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Kevin Starr, 2010.

CLIO, the Muse of History, generously inspired many efforts to bring the spirit and practice of history to California in its first one hundred years as an American province. Kevin Starr’s Clio on the Coast brings to life the men and women who chronicled and interpreted the story of California through the period and social transformation of the twentieth century.

Designed and printed by Jonathan Clark at The Artichoke Press. 6 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches, 201 pp and was lithographed on Mohawk Superfine paper. It handsomely bound in cloth with French marbled paper insides, and includes a letterpress-printed dust wrapper. Enhanced with 15 historical portraits and 23 facsimile title-pages. Edition of 350 copies each signed by Kevin Starr.

Price: $150.00

Dear Master: Letters of George Sterling to Ambrose Bierce

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Edited by Roger K. Larson, 2002.

Poet George Sterling consulted the eminent journalist-author Ambrose Bierce on almost all his published poetry, and this correspondence is a record not only of this artistic apprenticeship but also of Sterling’s many literary associations, such as his friendship with Jack London.

Designed and printed by Peter Rutledge Koch, Berkeley. 11 ¼ x 7 ½ inches. 255 pp. Edition 350 copies.

Price: $175.00


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with photographs by Dennis Letbetter and text by Jack W. Stauffacher, Gray Brechin, Andrea Grimes, Sumner Stone, and Michael Harvey. 2003.

When the San Francisco Main Library was closed to be transformed into the Asian Art Museum, Jack W. Stauffacher and his photographer friend Dennis Letbetter wished passionately to document the historic building as it was, recording the inscriptions chosen by San Francisco Mayor Edward Robeson Taylor–an early president of The Book Club of California. A rushed tour of a gloomy and closed building resulted in this study, which links it to a long tradition of libraries embellished with inscriptions and sheds a clear light on the cultural and historical context in which the library appeared in 1917.

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Price: $40.00

James Mason Hutchings of Yo Semite

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Dennis Kruska, 2010.

This book tells his gripping story in its entirety. In 1855, following his visit with one of the earliest tourist parties to Yosemite, Hutchings published the first views of the Valley to reach the outside world, and by the early 1860s, this adventurer and entrepreneur also managed one of the first hotels there. He became Yosemite’s most prolific author and leading advocate for Yosemite tourism, and his efforts shaped the future of this sublime place. The book provides a detailed, illustrated examination of Hutchings’s life, his tireless methods of promoting Yosemite and his influence on nineteenth-century California literature.

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Price: $275.00

James Weld Towne: Pioneer, San Francisco Printer, and Paper Purveyor

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Bruce L. Johnson, 2008.

This in-depth study of Towne (1829–1917) describes on of San Francisco’s most influential commercial printers during the period 1853–68. Whether job, periodical or book work, Towne and his partners produced an enormous volume of printed material as San Francisco increasingly grew to be a major city. A list of the large number and variety of the Towne partnerships’ imprints (including periodicals and newspapers) is appended.

Price: $125.00

John DePol: A Catalogue Raisonne

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Edited by James Howard Fraser and Eleanor Friedl, with a biographical essay by Catherine Tyler Brody, 2001.

The career of master wood-engraver John DePol is celebrated in this large, handsome volume, which describes in impressive detail DePol’s large body of illustrative work–books, pamphlets, prints, and keepsakes. The illustrations, many in color, serve to show that although he was essentially self-taught, DePol is indeed the “consummate artist.”

Printed letterpress by James Wehlage of the Tuscan Press, Novato, CA. 12 ¼ x 9 ¼ inches. 162 pp. Edition 400 copies.

Price: $150.00

Knights of the Lash: The Stagecoach Stories of Major Benjamin C. Truman

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Edited by Gary F. Kurutz. Designed and printed by The Castle Press, Pasadena, 2005.

When Major C. Truman (1835-1916), a Civil War correspondent and noted California Booster, first took the overland stage to the Golden State in 1866 he became fascinated by that daring breed of drivers he dubbed “Knights of the Lash.”  As he crisscrossed California and Nevada in elegant six-horse Concord coaches and utilitarian mud wagons, Major Truman recorded their exploits and adventures in ephemeral newspapers, long discontinued magazines, and out-of-print books. Gary Kurutz has gathered Truman’s scattered stories, so flamboyantly told, that modern readers may enjoy the perils and excitement of a vanished mode of public travel.

10 x 7 inches. 114 pp. The volume is embellished with twenty two contemporary illustrations of stagecoach scenes. Edition 350 copies.

Price: $85.00

Let’s Play!

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The Gearharts. Afterword by Victoria Dailey. Note on the Gearhart printing technique by Susan Futterman. Printed by Typecraft, Wood, and Jones, Pasadena, California. 2009.

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Price: $75.00

Paul Frenzeny’s Chinatown Sketches: An Artist’s Fascination with San Francisco’s Chinese Quarter, 1874-1882

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By Claudine Chalmers. With a Preface by Philip P. Choy.

Click here to view the prospectus.

Artist Paul Frenzeny, a Frenchman of noble descent, strict military training, and encyclopedic knowledge, became one of the leading “special correspondents” in the United States and Europe in the days when woodcuts, rather than photographs, were used to illustrate newspapers. In 1873, Frenzeny undertook a year-long sketching tour of the frontier for Harper’s Weekly, with fellow artist Jules Tavernier. This 100-sketch assignment proved to be an irresistible subject for author Claudine Chalmers, who then followed the Frenchmen’s careers after their journey’s end on the Pacific Coast. As she patiently gathered Frenzeny’s subsequent illustrations in the Weekly, Dr. Chalmers discovered that he had depicted San Francisco’s Chinese culture in all its pageantry and intensity, at a time when most of the white population, within California and across the country, reviled the pioneering Chinese laborers and repressed them in every way possible. 

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Price: $125.00

Poetry at the Edge: Five Contemporary California Poets


2014. BCC publication number 233.

Featuring poems by Joseph Stroud, Kay Ryan, Gary Young, Martha Ronk, and Michael Hannon

Designed by Carolee Campbell of Ninja Press

Click here to view the prospectus.

Click here to watch a video of the books being bound by Klaus Rotzscher of Pettingell Bookbindery.

And below, listen to all five poets read from the book, recorded at the Book Club during the Poetry at the Edge publication party, November 17, 2014:

Optional: After the audio has fully loaded (indicated by the white bar), use the cursor to scroll to individual readings, at the below time marks. Each poet is introduced by Carolee Campbell.

0:00′ Introduction by Carolee Campbell
4:35′ Joseph Stroud
10:55′ Kay Ryan
20:45′ Gary Young
26:55′ Martha Ronk
32:45′ Michael Hannon
43:14′ Closing remarks by Publications Committee Chair Roberto Trujillo, and BCC Executive Director Jennifer Sime


Price: $200.00

Raymond Duncan: Printer, Expatriate, Eccentric Artist

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By Adela Spindler Roatcap, 1991.

The brother of Isadora and a famous expatriate in his own right, Raymond Duncan was a talented artist and craftsman who claimed that printing was his preferred occupation. This interesting biographical account examines Duncan’s multi-faceted career.

Printed letterpress by Hillside Press (Eric Holub). 9 × 6 inches. 56 pp. Six pages of reproductions of Duncan’s work and one cartoon. Bound in terra cotta cloth. Edition 400 copies.

Price: $50.00

The Colt Springs High: A Publishing Memoir of the Colt Press, 1939 – 1942.

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By William Matson Roth, 2004.

William Matson Roth encountered the Grabhorns while he was still a student at Yale, home in California for the summer. This is the story of a collaboration with Jane Grabhorn on the unique publishing venture they called the Colt Press. Mr. Roth’s vivid recollections are supplemented by the dashing letters and memoranda of Mrs. Grabhorn, evoking a pre-war era in San Francisco that was full of literary ferment, printing innovation, and an irrepressible  spirit of fun.

Designed by Andrew Hoyem and printed by the Arion Press, San Francisco. 10 ¼  x 6 ¾ inches. 213 pp.  Includes thirty seven illustrations and photographs. Edition 500 copies

Price: $175.00

The Sierra Nevada Suite: Thirty-One Wood Engravings by Richard Wagener


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2013. BCC Publication number 231. The Companion Volume to California in Relief: Thirty Wood Engravings by Richard Wagener, The Book Club of California, 2009.

Click here to view the prospectus.

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
—John Muir

John Muir reminds us that a life lived without great rocky outcrops and ageless trees as part of one’s native landscape would be a life deprived of one of the greatest resources of the sublime. Richard Wagener’s engravings capture an essential quality of that friendship.

The thirty-one prints in this special edition were hand-engraved on end-grain boxwood and relief-printed by Richard Wagener. The majority have been produced between 2010 and 2013. The present work is a companion volume to California in Relief, published by the Book Club in 2009, and continues a legacy of wide acclaim, ingenuity, and beauty.

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Price: $450.00

The Woods Were Never Quiet: Stories by Monique Wentzel


2014. BCC publication number 232.

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Monique Wentzel is a compelling new voice in contemporary fiction and the recipient of a 2012–14 Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. She takes as her subject the people and places of California, revealing a tender, sometimes dark vision of the relationships between them. Set in mostly rural areas in Northern California, along the California-Arizona border, and in the suburbs around the San Francisco Bay, Wentzel’s narratives describe the beauty of this vast landscape as well as the singular, vivid ordinariness of the many lives unfolding within it.

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Price: $110.00

William Reagh: A Long Walk Downtown, Photographs of Los Angeles & Southern California, 1936-1991


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Click here to view the prospectus.

This special collection of photographs by the Los Angeles documentary photographer William Reagh examines and showcases his work from the mid-to late twentieth century. The 130 photographs, selected by Patrick Reagh and Michael Dawson, reflect William Reagh’s perspective on urban renewal and change in Los Angeles during the years in which he worked. There are images of Angels Flight, Bunker Hill, Pershing Square, Broadway, Grand Avenue, Hill Street, Wrigley Field, Chavez Ravine, and people, lots and lots of people. Many of the photographs from earlier decades are juxtaposed with photographs from later decades, taken from the same location and vantage point. In these, it becomes clear how dramatically the city changed over the years, and Reagh’s documentation of that change becomes all the more profound. The Book Club of California is proud to offer this chronicle of a city over time, a gift from a photographer with an endlessly fascinated sensibility, for all who should wish to revisit Los Angeles in the future.

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Price: $225.00