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Book Club of California Open House


Left to right at the BCC’s Columbian iron hand press: Amelia Hugill-Fontanel, Richard Kegler, Casey Smith, Henry Snyder, Fred Voltmer and Paul Romaine.

Members of APHA and the Friends of Dard Hunter had the opportunity to visit the Library of the Book Club of California before the conference got underway at Mills College in Oakland. The Club occupies its own floor in a downtown office building on Sutter Street. Visitors are greeted by a small office, lounge area, small bar, and an antique Columbian printing press restored by APHA member Fred Voltmer. Voltmer has become the go-to man for press restoration in the Bay Area. In “retirement,” he has restored more than a dozen antique presses of various makes and vintages to working order at institutions throughout the Bay Area. Fred, a retired engineer, prints under the imprint Havilah Press in Emeryville.


Conference attendees and BCC member Henry Snyder. (Paul Romaine)

Another “retiree” is the indefatigable Henry Snyder. Rare book catalogers may remember him for his career at UC Riverside where he spearheaded the completion of the eighteenth century Short Title Catalog (a vital bibliographical tool); his processes and procedures were adopted by other short title catalogs to complete them. In retirement, Snyder, has headed the BCC’s Library Committee where he collaborated and then succeeded Barbara Land (who sadly passed away a few years ago). Snyder showed a first edition of Dard Hunter’s Papermaking by Hand in America as well as other papermaking books. He also showed a recent acquisition, the Florence Walter collection, a personal library of a designer bookbinder which included an extraordinary range of Grabhorn materials, including much ephemera that she commissioned personally from the Grabhorns in extremely tiny editions ranging from 1 to 25, which had never appeared on the market. Snyder noted that the collection extended the printed Grabhorn bibliography, and that he was thinking of writing the extended bibliography himself. Attendees had a chance to examine other rarities, such as a mockup (one of three) for the Dwiggins Marionettes, view the exhibition “Food & Wine & Good Design: The California Fine Printers’ Legacy” and converse with Henry and Fred.

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