A Visit to Peter Koch Printers, Part 1

While in San Francisco on business last week, I had the opportunity to meet and spend a couple hours with Peter Koch, of Peter Koch Printers.  Mr. Koch is an incredibly nice man, with a huge obvious exuberance for what he does and an incredibly high level of knowledge and craftsmanship that more or less exudes from his presence. He does not just print his books, he lives them, clearly pouring his heart and soul into them. To his credit, what he chooses to print is what reverberates within himself.  To hear him read passages from some of his works is to understand why he chooses these specific books to print.

Peter Koch, next to his Heidelberg

To get a good look through everything that Mr. Koch has published would take days, so I focused on a handful of items for now, hoping to go for a return visit when more time is available. In this first posting, I will give you a quick look at two books soon to be available, not yet on his website.  In a subsequent installment, we’ll take a look at his phenomenal recent work, The Lost Journals of Sacajewea. In a final installment, various other books will be shown, including Watermark, The Old and Their Knowing, Fragments of Parmenides, Diogenes and Herakleitos.

2137 Tanger Socco, Letters from Paul Bowles to Ira Yeager

Paul Bowles (1910-1999) was an American composer, author, and translator, who lived most of his life in Tangier, Morocco. His work was prolific, writing numerous novels, short stories and poetry, in addition to scores of translations and even more compositions. Ira Yeager (b.1938) is a prominent American artist, with studios in San Francisco and Napa Valley.  Yeager was a good friend of Bowles, having also spent time in Morocco.  This marvelous edition by Peter Koch contains their letters (the title, 2137 Tanger Socco, is the address where letters were sent to Paul Bowles in Tangier), packaged in a uniquely stunning way.  Each book has a unique painting on canvas by Yeager built into the solander box.  In addition, the illustrations within the books are each uniquely hand watercolored by Yeager.  In other words, no two books are the same. If I remember correctly, Mr. Koch mentioned they only made 43 of these. For fans of Bowles or Yeager, this upcoming edition is a no-brainer. I simply could not take my eyes of the finished product.

{Ed. Note, 12/26/2011, There are 30 numbered copies for sale. Each copy contains eight relief prints — hand water-colored by the artist. The paper is 300gsm Hahnemuhle Copperplate and the typeface is Bitsream Courier Bold.  John DeMerritt Bookbinder contracted the red cloth boxes, lined with suede.  Each copy is signed by the artist, the printer and the publisher.}

Pictures

(All pictures on Books and Vines are exclusively provided to highlight and visualize the work being reviewed.  A side benefit, hopefully, is encouraging healthy sales of fine press books for the publishers and fine retailers that specialize in these types of books (of which Books and Vines has no stake or financial interest). Please note that works photographed are copyrighted by the publisher, author and/or illustrator as indicated in the articles. Permission to use contents from these works for anything outside of fair use purposes must come directly from the copyright owner and no permission is granted or implied to use photo’s found on Books and Vines for any purpose that would infringe on the rights of the copyright owner.)

2137 Tanger Socco, Peter Koch Printers, Solander Box with Painting
2137 Tanger Socco, Peter Koch Printers, Solander Box with Painting, example 2
2137 Tanger Socco, Peter Koch Printers, Solander Box with Painting, example 3
2137 Tanger Socco, Peter Koch Printers, Inside Solander Box
2137 Tanger Socco, Peter Koch Printers, Frontispiece and Title Page
2137 Tanger Socco, Peter Koch Printers, Title Page
2137 Tanger Socco, Peter Koch Printers, Sample Page with Text
2137 Tanger Socco, Peter Koch Printers, Second Sample Page with Text
2137 Tanger Socco, Peter Koch Printers, Sample Illustration
2137 Tanger Socco, Peter Koch Printers, Colophon

Small Elegies, by W.S. Merwin

William Stanley Merwin (b.1927) is an American poet, twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (in 1971 and 2009), and the seventeenth United States Poet Laureate (named by the Library of Congress). Besides having written a significant amount of poetry, Merwin also has published a number of prose volumes, and scores of translations. His poetr

y often reflects an influence of Buddhism and ecology. The poems in Small Elegies may have appeared separately in other books or journals but this is the first time they have been collected and presented this way.  I found this volume of poetry to be a splendid edition, perfect size with a fabulous feel. Again, fans of Merwin should snap this up, though again the limitation number will be very small, so if interested I would contact Mr. Koch soon.

  • Six relief prints from wooden type by Peter Rutledge Koch
  • Fore & aft sections illustrated with antique star maps
  • Printed in an edition of fifty copies on vintage Carta di Amalfi and hand set in 12d
  • Romulus Romein & Cursief types cast for the press by Joh. Enschedé & Zonen, Haarlem
  • Bound at the press in specially painted 100% cotton rag St. Armand paper.
  • 5.5 x 9.5 inches   50 copies

Pictures

(All pictures on Books and Vines are exclusively provided to highlight and visualize the work being reviewed.  A side benefit, hopefully, is encouraging healthy sales of fine press books for the publishers and fine retailers that specialize in these types of books (of which Books and Vines has no stake or financial interest). Please note that works photographed are copyrighted by the publisher, author and/or illustrator as indicated in the articles. Permission to use contents from these works for anything outside of fair use purposes must come directly from the copyright owner and no permission is granted or implied to use photo’s found on Books and Vines for any purpose that would infringe on the rights of the copyright owner.)

Small Elegies, Peter Koch Printers, Cover
Small Elegies, Peter Koch Printers, Starting Scale
Small Elegies, Peter Koch Printers, Zooming In
Small Elegies, Peter Koch Printers, Zooming In More
Small Elegies, Peter Koch Printers, Zooming In More
Small Elegies, Peter Koch Printers, Frontispiece and Title Page
Small Elegies, Peter Koch Printers, Sample Page with Text
Small Elegies, Peter Koch Printers, Second Sample Pages with Text
Small Elegies, Peter Koch Printers, Third Sample Pages with Text
Small Elegies, Peter Koch Printers, Fourth Sample Pages with Text and Illustration

6 thoughts on “A Visit to Peter Koch Printers, Part 1

  1. Hi Don, I will check with Peter when I get back from vacation. You could try to email him using the email address on his site, I do not see any reason why he would not tell you. Where are you getting your solanders done?

  2. It is nice to see so many different designs. Even though the printing is Fine on all, some designs hit me harder than others. Chris, I’m currently doing several solanders to hold some of my older LECs. The labels for the title or author on the solanders seem to be made of several different materials. If you can, tell me what the label on the solander for Tanger Socco is made of. Sometimes I find a craftsman to make excellent solanders, but he/she can’t imprint directly on a leather label. Of course, I could have my binder make the solander, but his higher prices drive up the solander cost (for one custom solander) considerably.

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