A Look at David Pascoe’s Nawakum Press

{Ed Note: I would like to thank David Pascoe for providing me with information on the press for this article.}

One of the great perks of being associated with Books and Vines is the frequency in which I am made aware of outstanding new (and sometimes not new) fine press publishers that I was not aware of. In this world of mass commercialization and production, it is heartening to see a growing number of true artisans who produce works not for riches, fame or glory, but for being true to their innermost self; craftsman who master the skills of our forefathers to bring us mankind’s greatest works in editions that provide a conduit into the soul of the civilization from which we come.

We, lovers of fine literature and of finely crafted editions, live in an emerging fine press renaissance.  Alberto Tallone Editore, Arion Press, Barbarian Press, Foolscap Press, Bowler Press, Chester Creek Press, Chester River Press, David Bruce Smith Publications, Deep Wood Press, Fleece Press, Hand and Eye Letterpress, Gwasg Gregynong, New Albion Press, Old School Press, Olde Stile PressPeter Koch Printers and Whittington Press, just to name a few, produce fantastic works that can take their place proudly alongside anything published in any previous age. In addition, we still have reasonably easy ability to pick up fine editions from last century’s great fine press publishers such as the Limited Editions Club, Yolly Bolly Press, L&D Allen Press, Golden Cockerel Press and scores of others.

Today I would like to introduce you to a private, fine press publisher that many of you may not be aware of and whose work is absolutely fantastic.  David Pascoe’s Nawakum Press publishes short run, hand crafted books matching compelling literature with original commissioned artwork. The Press works with various letterpress printers, hand bookbinders, papermakers, and book designers to fulfill its own vision of inspiring readers with books of the highest quality and distinction. Owning and spending time with two of Mr. Pascoe’s works, I can tell you that these editions are as good as anything produced today and deserve a spot on your bookshelf — as they are already in the collection of over 50 university and institutional libraries both here and abroad.

As of now, the press has published four works.  Two of the most recent editions are an accordion bound book of poet and fine press printer Alan Loney titled In A Single Gesture with Judy Detrick illustrating, and a short story of Herman Melville taken from The Encantadas titled Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow with captivating wood engravings by Rik Olson. Prior to that the press published The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems by accomplished American poet and author Robert Bly, illustrated with original wood-engravings by Keith Cranmer, and Undersea by Rachel Carson, the greatest ecological writer of the twentieth century, with illustrations by Dugald Stermer. The editions all come finely done, as you will see in the pictures below. Plans are underway for a couple more editions that will be exciting to many (more on that below).

As to the history of the Press, Nawakum Press was reborn in 2009 after quite a lengthy hiatus. It began publishing in 1979 in a garage that housed The Feathered Serpent Press in San Anselmo, California. Don Greame Kelley, master letterpress printer, artist and author was proprietor of the Press. Don was among other pursuits teaching a letterpress printing and bookmaking class at the time. It was under his tutelage, and that of Susan Acker, that Mr. Pascoe learned to set type in a composing stick, print as well as bind, and the first printed book of Nawakum Press came into being. Soon followed the purchase and refurbishment of a Colts Armory Printing Press, the arrival of a Chandler and Price treadle press, cases of lead type and much more. Over time, however, the presses and the like were slowly sold off and a family was raised. Now Mr. Pascoe is back at it, albeit without the need to lift lead! Today, Mr. Pascoe publishes only and has no facilities. On this point, Mr. Pascoe remarks that:

While that limits me in many ways, it also opens up for me the possibility of working with the best book artisans of my choosing, be they letterpress printers, book binders, papermakers or the like. Less than 20 minutes from here for example is the shop of master printer Patrick Reagh, who relocated to Sebastopol from Los Angeles years ago, and whose archives reside at the Clark Library. He printed both the Melville and the Loney books. And a short drive to Emeryville in the East Bay is the hand bindery of John DeMerritt, who learned his craft over 25 years ago from Klaus Roetzscher in San Francisco. He hand bound the Carson and the Loney books. I am also able to reach farther afield, having worked with Craig Jensen at Booklab II outside of Austin. He bound the Melville edition. Craig was just awarded The Guild of Bookworkers Lifetime Achievement Award.

As for upcoming works, the first will be a very limited edition of a short story by an aging and blind Jorge Luis Borges titled The Book of Sand. It is taken from the last of Borges’ major collections, by the same name, the Spanish language version of which was first published in 1975. The edition is both in English and in Spanish, with the translation by Andrew Hurley. The story is of an unexpected visit, by a used book salesman, to the apartment in Buenos Aires of a retired librarian from The National Library of Argentina. The book this librarian ends up procuring is both magical and diabolical, and leads him eventually back into the library.

The edition is being designed, printed and bound by Larry Van Velzer and Peggy Gotthold of Foolscap Press (whose wonderful Dialogue of the Dogs was recently reviewed here). The text will be letterpress printed. Etchings by Northwest artist Thomas Wood will both accompany the text and be incorporated into the innovative book structure as well. The structure itself draws inspiration from the former Biblioteca National in Buenos Aires. Thomas Wood has been an artist and printmaker for over forty years and studied under master printmaker Luigi Arcuri of the Academia delle Belle Arti, Florence. His art brings easily recognizable elements of nature and civilization into strange concrete fusion, often combining moral and metaphysical ideas in a delicate dance that at once both challenges and delights.

Another project underway will be the publishing in 2013 of a limited edition titled Outside consisting of six short stories of Barry Lopez, all taken from his Notes trilogy. The stories span nearly twenty years of his writing from Desert Notes in 1976, to River Notes in 1979, followed by Field Notes in 1994. Lopez is an award winning essayist, prose stylist and fiction writer who received the National Book Award for his nonfiction work Arctic Dreams. He is an unusually compelling storyteller, and his writings are often compared to Henry David Thoreau. Renowned artist and illustrator Barry Moser has designed the edition, and his engravings will be illustrating the text.

The above mentioned editions will go fast once publicly announced for sale, as the editions will be extremely limited. As I get more information, such as timing and price, I will provide updates in Books and Vines News. I would also encourage you to contact Mr. Pascoe directly, letting him know if you have interest in the existing editions or his upcoming works, or if you have questions, comments, etc.

I personally own Nawakum’s Melville work, as well as Undersea. Both represent two of the finest works I have added to my library in the last few years.  I think you will agree after perusing the pictures below!

About the Edition – Norfolk Isle & the Chola Widow

  • Published by David Pascoe of Nawakum Press
  • Designed by Patti Buttitta
  • Engravings by Rik Olson printed from original wood blocks
  • Set in Bembo
  • Letterpress printed on mould-made Rives Heavyweight by Patrick Reagh
  • Artist designed patterned paper over boards, quarter bound in Japanese book cloth and housed in a slipcase
  • Slipcase and drop spine box produced by BookLab II in San Marcos, Texas
  • The books are numbered and signed by the artist.
  • Limited to 75 copies; Five additional copies are lettered and reserved for the Press.
  • Publication price: $450.00
  • A Deluxe Edition (20 copies, sold out) has above, plus:
    • Quarter bound in gold stamped black goatskin and housed in a Japanese book cloth clamshell box
    • Additional 2-color wood engraving of Herman Melville printed and signed by the artist, in a paper chemise
    • The books are numbered 1-20 and signed by the artist; Five additional lettered copies are reserved for the Press.

Pictures of The Chola Widow

(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.)

The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Book in Slipcase
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Book and Spine
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Spine
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Cover
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Cover
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Side View
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Endpapers
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Half-Title
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Frontispiece and Title Page
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Title Page
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Title Page
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Frontispiece
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Copyright
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Sample Illustration #1
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Sample Text #1 (Introduction)
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Sample Text #1
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Sample Text Above
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Sample Text #2
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Sample #2
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Sample Illustration #3 with Text
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Sample Illustration #4 with Text
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Illustration
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Colophon
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Signature Macro
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Deluxe Edition
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Patrick Reagh and Artist Rik Olson
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Producing Melville
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Craig Jensen at Booklab II
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Misc #1
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Misc #2

About the Edition – Undersea

  • Published by David Pascoe at Nawakum Press
  • Designed by Annemarie Clark and Doug daSilva of Clark Creative Group
  • Illustrations by Dugald Stermer were digitally reproduced by Digital Grange on an Epson Stylus Pro 11880
  • Text set in Granjon and Burgues Script typefaces, and letterpress printed from photopolymer plates on Hahnemühle Biblio by Norman Clayton of Classic Letterpress
  • The cover paper is Carson Crackle from Cave Paper
  • The bookbinding and clamshell boxes were produced by John DeMerritt
  • Books are numbered and signed by artist
  • Limited to 80 copies
  • Publication price: $425.00
  • A Deluxe edition includes:
    • Housed in a clamshell box with additional hand colored print in paper chemise
    • Each book is gold stamped on the spine, numbered 1-20, and signed by the artist; Ten additional copies are lettered A-J and reserved for the Press.
    • Publication price: $840.00

Pictures of Undersea

(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.)

Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Slipcase Spine
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Book in Slipcase
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Spine
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Cover
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Cover
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Undersea
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Half-Title
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Frontispiece and Title Page
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Titlepage
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Title Page
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Copyright
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Sample Text #1 (Introduction)
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Sample Text #1
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Sample Illustration #1 with Text
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Sample Illustration #1
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Sample Text #2
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Sample Text #2
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Sample Text #3
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Sample Text #4
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Sample Text #5
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Macro of Sample Text #5
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Colophon
Undersea, The Nawakum Press, Signature Macro

About the Edition – The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems by Robert Bly

  • Taken from Bly’s 1985 collection, Loving a Woman in Two Worlds
  • Designed and letterpress printed by Norman Clayton of Classic Letterpress on a KSBAZ Heidelberg Cylinder
  • Foreword by Thomas R. Smith
  • Published with original, commissioned wood engravings by Berkeley, California artist Keith Cranmer
  • Typeface is Walbaum, Monotype composition executed by Mackenzie & Harris, San Francisco
  • Campbell-Logan Bindery in Minneapolis bound the book with burnt orange Cave Paper over boards and quarter bound in dark brown Italian book cloth with paper label on the spine
  • Housed in a slipcase of Italian book cloth
  • 32 pages, 6 1/4″ x 10 1/2″
  • Limited to 80 copies, sold out
  • The Deluxe edition (20 copies, sold out) includes:
    • Quarter bound in foil stamped dark brown goatskin
    • Housed in a drop spine box of Japanese book cloth and accompanied by a paper chemise containing a signed and numbered wood engraving of the Indigo Bunting used for the cover

Pictures of The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems (pictures courtesy of Nawakum Press)

(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.)

The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems, Nawakum Press, Book and Slipcase
The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems, Nawakum Press, Dexluxe Book and Solander Box
The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems, Nawakum Press, Dexluxe Book in Solander Box
The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems, Nawakum Press, Frontispiece and Title Page
The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems, Nawakum Press, Sample Illustration
The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems, Nawakum Press, Sample Text
The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems, Nawakum Press, Bly Artist and Pressman
The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems, Nawakum Press, Carson/Bly Printer Norman Clayton
The Indigo Bunting: 15 Love Poems, Nawakum Press, The Bly Edtion Locked Up

About the Edition – In A Single Gesture by Alan Loney

  • Jason Dewinetz of Greenboathouse Press in British Colombia designed the edition
  • Letterpress printed on mould-made Somerset Book (from St Cuthberts Mill in England) and handmade Cave Paper from Minneapolis
  • 32 pages which measure 6 1/2″ by 12″
  • The text is Brioso Pro, designed by Robert Slimbach
  • California calligrapher Judy Detrick illustrated the text with a calligraphic line, printed letterpress, running throughout the entire length of the book
  • Patrick Reagh printed the text and covers from polymer plates on a 28″ Heidelberg Cylinder formerly of The Plantin Press
  • The accordion bindings (Cave Paper over limp board covers) and clamshell boxes (Japanese silk book-cloth) were produced by John DeMerritt
  • Limited to 30 copies, 24 of which for sale
  • Signed by Alan Loney
  • Publication price: $700.00

Pictures of In A Single Gesture (pictures courtesy of Nawakum Press)

(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.)

In A Single Gesture, Nawakum Press, Clamshell Box
In A Single Gesture, Nawakum Press, Macro of Clamshell Box
In A Single Gesture, Nawakum Press, Book and Clamshell Box
In A Single Gesture, Nawakum Press, Book in Clamshell Box
In A Single Gesture, Nawakum Press, Accordion Fold
In A Single Gesture, Nawakum Press, Macro of Text
In A Single Gesture, Nawakum Press, Sample Text #1
In A Single Gesture, Nawakum Press, Sample Text #2
In A Single Gesture, Nawakum Press, Macro of Text
In A Single Gesture, Nawakum Press, Colophon and Signature
In A Single Gesture, The Nawakum Press, John DeMerritt Bookbinding

8 thoughts on “A Look at David Pascoe’s Nawakum Press

  1. Thank you Patti! I did go ahead and add your link, thanks for getting that to me. Lots of wine labels, excellent stuff – lots of labels I have seen and now I know you designed them! Thanks for subscribing. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

  2. Hello Chris,
    It is nice to see you cover Nawakum Press so thoroughly. You have provided beautiful images and thoughful text to explain the inner workings of the Press. I thought you might want to link my website to the note on my book design contribution to the Melville Chola Widow edition. It is: http://www.buttittadesign.com …. Perhaps you’d be interested in the many wine labels I have designed since you cover wine as well. The samples are viewable on the website in the portfolio section. Thank you again for your highlights on the book I designed for NawakummPress… very nicely done.

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