Besides being Halloween, it’s also Fine Press Friday!!
Today we present a 1968 reprint of an early Gehenna Press title: Auguries of Innocence by William Blake. Legendary surrealist sculptor, printmaker, graphic artist, letterpress printer, and book artist Leonard Baskin produced his first Gehenna Press imprint in 1942. The Press, however, didn’t really take off until the 1950s. 1959’s Auguries of Innocence was a turning point in the esthetics of Baskin’s style and production. In The Gehenna Press, The Work of Fifty Years he writes, “I began to invent typographic structures of originality & sensitivity… . There is a newer sensibility in type choice, its sizes in relation to the book’s eight wood engravings… . This is a crucial book in the growth of the printer’s typographic insight … in the making & ordering of books.”
The original printing of the book was produced for the Print Club of Philadelphia in an edition of 250 copies in Northampton, Massachusetts. The wood engravings and the Monotype Bembo were printed by the equally legendary master printer Harold McGrath. This later printing on Rives French mold-made paper was produced for Grossman Publishers of New York in an edition of 100 copies quarter-bound in gold-stamped goatskin and grey Fabriano papers over boards, and includes an additional, signed wood engraving laid in. The edition is signed and numbered by the artist. This copy is a gift of Jerry Buff.
Special Collections currently holds 21 Gehenna Press imprints.