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Re: (no subject)

Thanks very much for posting this sad news.  Is there anything that can be
done to save this business?
-----Original Message-----
From: Charles Smith <CharSSmith@AOL.COM>
Date: Friday, October 22, 1999 12:54 PM
Subject: (no subject)

>More lousy news.=20
>--Charles Smith
>Eviction stalks letterpress printers creating new Bible
>Thursday, October 21, 1999
>=A91999 San Francisco Chronicle
>In the beginning was the Word. In the end was the lease termination notice.
>And while the end is not quite yet, the folks at Arion Press, one of the
>finest printing houses in the nation, know well that their days upon Earth
>may be a shadow.
>Such biblical quotations are fitting in this case because Andrew Hoyem, the
>publisher of Arion books, is in the process of creating one of the world's
>greatest Bibles.
>But just as the book is taking shape, so is a familiar San Francisco
>controversy: Hoyem and his specialized team of letterpress printers are
>being evicted from their longtime home on Bryant Street in the South of
>Market area, a place where meticulous book designers have been painting
>words for nearly a century.
>Long before rising land prices, astronomical rents and multimedia, there
>an art form called fine printing that found a home in San Francisco. The
>city became a showplace for some of the great American bookmakers of the
>modern age. People like John Henry Nash, Lawton Kennedy, and Edward and
>Robert Grabhorn all gravitated to the cultured city by the bay. Hoyem, who
>was Robert Grabhorn's last partner before his death, is their direct
>The pages of the city's past are zipping by with such speed these days that
>it is hard to remember that beautiful books are still in demand, even if
>they are not available at a click from a discount merchant somewhere in the
>ether of the Internet. And only in development- crazed San Francisco, it
>seems, could the future of the Good Book end up being in such a bad place.
>``It's a terrible situation for us,'' Hoyem told me the other day. ``There
>is a serious question about whether we can continue to function at all. And
>here we are in the midst of printing our biggest project ever.''
>That would be the new Bible, the greatest single challenge in bookmaking.
>Hoyem, whose publishing house is renowned as a spawning ground for
>beautiful, handcrafted books, started the project more than a year ago. The
>Bible, all 400 copies, is being printed and bound mostly by hand. A work of
>printing art, and carrying a art-heavy price tag: $7,250 for an unbound
>edition, $8,500 for a leather-bound edition. That's without the
>hand-illuminated letters, which would raise the price another $2,500.
>But that printing run has been disrupted by news of ``progress.'' The
>of the brick building at 460 Bryant St., the real estate arm of Fisher
>Friedman Associates, an architectural firm, are evicting all the tenants,
>ostensibly to do seismic upgrades.
>Hoyem believes that the engineering work could take place with his printing
>presses in place, but the landlord has so far refused to extend the lease.
>And Hoyem says he has been told that the architects want to develop the
>building to its ``full economic capacity.''
>All the tenants, including some sewing firms and a few other small
>businesses, have been told to be out by June 30, 2000. Nothing in the Bible
>about that, although you might find it on a fiscal year calendar.
>In Arion's case, however, moving is about as easy as printing ``War and
>Peace'' one letter at a time. Within his shop sit priceless presses, rare
>casting machines, keyboards and other equipment. His firm now owns the
>type foundry of Mackenzie & Harris, which began using its hot metal magic
>equipment purchased for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
>1925, Mackenzie & Harris moved to a new building on Folsom Street and
>Hawthorne Lane, where their typography machines churned until they were
>relocated to the Bryant Street building in 1974.
>So finding a new home for Arion involves moving more than 30 tons of
>cast-iron inventory and carefully reinstalling a complex configuration of
>gas lines, electrical lines and compressed air machines. Hoyem said the
>minimum estimate of any move so far has been $400,000 -- money, he says,
>that he does not have. At the very least, he believes, he would have to
>close the type foundry if he's forced to move. And the result of that would
>be even more costly.
>``We simply could not make the kinds of books we make today,'' he says.
>``It's very painful to contemplate.''
>And even more so, if, like Hoyem, one bleeds ink.
>Hoyem, by way of the Midwest and the Navy, started out at a small press
>in San Francisco in 1961, printing books no one else would publish,
>including some of the ``Beats,'' Philip Whalen and William Burroughs. Money
>was harder to come by than market share. He printed everything -- birth
>announcements, wedding announcements, even, desperate thing, office
>He ended up meeting the brothers Grabhorn, legends in their field, who
>responded to his request for printing assistance as if he were being
>shepherded into a secret society. By 1966, Hoyem and Robert Grabhorn formed
>a partnership, which lasted until 1973 when Hoyem went on his own.
>He formed Arion Press, after the Greek poet who was saved from drowning by
>dolphin. And then Arion built its own mythical status in the fine art book
>field, starting with an edition of ``Moby Dick'' that included wood
>engravings of Herman Melville, whaling tools and even sea creatures. It was
>a tome that collectors ranked as one of the two or three greatest American
>fine press books. Ever.
>That was many years and printings ago. Hoyem decided that his great project
>would be a classic rendition of the Bible, an undertaking that he said
>probably be the last folio Bible printed from hot metal type, a book to
>up there with Johannes Gutenberg's 1455 landmark version.
>A timeless treasure, now running short on time.
>Hoyem says Arion has just completed printing the book of Isaiah, almost
>exactly halfway through the 1,350-page Bible. Since the landlord so far has
>declined to grant a lease extension, Hoyem says he'll be lucky to finish
>printing by June, and almost certainly will not be able to complete the
>Profit driven by development was not a key topic for the prophets, either
>the end or the beginning. Hoyem is just trying to find a way to survive.
>That's not an easy thing for a practitioner of a lost art in a rapidly
>changing city.
>``That which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten,'' the Bible
>says. Words to live by, which is probably why they wrote them down.
>=A91999 San Francisco Chronicle Page A19
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