A visit to The Book Club of California
During a recent business trip I had the pleasure of joining the SLA San Francisco Bay Region Chapter on a tour of the Book Club of California (BCC). The BCC is a non-profit membership library founded in 1912 focusing on fine printing and letterpress in San Francisco, the Bay Area, the state of California, and the western states more broadly.
Henry Snyder, the BCC Librarian, led the group on a tour and lively discussion in the Albert Sperison Library, where we had the pleasure of viewing and handling several of the magnificently bound, letterpressed, and illuminated volumes in the collection.
The Albert Sperison Library is comprised of several main collections:
- BCC Press – approximately 232 books published since 1913.
- Roxburghe Club of San Francisco – a bibliophile club founded in 1928.
- Grabhorn Press – a press run by Edwin and Robert Grabhorn from 1921 to 1965.
- Miniature books including many from Carol Cunningham’s Sunflower Press
- Ward Ritchie, Lawrence Clark Powell, Gloria Stuart and related presses – a close social network of printers in the Bay Area.
We were also allowed a look into Mr. Snyder’s workroom, where we found archival boxes of Grabhorn Press emphemera awaiting cataloging. These included menus, invitations, and keepsakes printed by the Grabhorns for various clients such as the Bohemian Club, the Roxburghe Club, the Wine & Food Society, etc.
Finally, attendees strolled through the main room of the Book Club and browsed the current exhibition Food & Wine & Good Design: The California Fine Printers’ Legacy, including finely printed cookbooks, menus, and other food-related literature and ephemera.
My thanks to Henry Snyder and the San Francisco Bay Region Chapter and event organizer Heather Heen for a fascinating tour and a warm welcome for a New York visitor.