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NCC Hosts Nov. 11 Exhibit, Lecture on Arion Handcrafted Bible

Noteworthy for Contemporary Translation, Letterpress Printing, Hand Binding, Hand-Illumination

November 1, 2002, NEW YORK CITY -- Arion Press, the nation’s premier fine printers and publishers of limited edition artists’ books, will exhibit its sixtieth publication, a grand folio lectern Bible, in New York City in November.

On November 11, "A Bible for the 21st Century: Celebrating the New Revised Standard Version and the Arion Press Folio Bible" will be held at the National Council of Churches at 6:30 p.m. Fine printer and designer Andrew Hoyem will give a talk along with Bible translator Professor Walter Harrelson, with a viewing of the Arion Bible and reception to follow. The location is Sockman Lounge, Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Drive (enter off Claremont Ave. between 119th and 120th Sts), New York City. RSVP to 212-870-2923.

Professor Walter Harrelson is a Bible scholar and chair of the National Council of Churches’ Bible Translation Committee, whose work culminated in the publication of the New Revised Standard Version Bible in 1989. The NCC holds the copyright to the NRSV. Harrelson is professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

November 3 through 11, Andrew Hoyem, fine printer and publisher of Arion Press, will be available to display the Bible and for interviews.

November 6 through 10, the Arion Press will be exhibiting its latest publications, including the folio Bible, at the IFPDA Print Fair at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street, from noon to 7 p.m. The Arion Bible can also be seen at public collections in New York, including the New York Public Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street.

The Arion Press Bible

Nearly ten years in planning and production, the Arion Bible was designed by Arion Press publisher Andrew Hoyem and set in type, printed, illuminated, and bound entirely in-house by a team of traditionally trained craftspeople at the Press in San Francisco. Copies of the edition of 400 are now being bound by hand, at the rate of approximately one per week.

Noteworthy as the first grand folio lectern Bible to present the contemporary translation and current scholarship of the New Revised Standard Version, it is intended primarily for use in church services but also functions for display as a work of art for individuals and libraries. In the 500-year tradition of grand printed Bibles, it is a monument to the scriptures, fine typography, and fine bookmaking.

"With the publication of its magisterial lectern Bible, the Arion Press enters the new millennium with the healing gift of fine art," said Kevin Starr, historian and State Librarian of California. "In the realm of book arts, Arion Press stands at the top."

The 1,350-page Arion Press Bible measures 18 by 13 inches and weighs 35 pounds. Published in an edition of 400, it ranges in price from $7,250 to $11,000, depending upon the purchaser’s choice of binding and embellishments. Each book of the Arion Bible begins with a large red initial letter. This alphabet of roman capitals was created by noted type designer Sumner Stone, formerly director of digital design for Adobe. Hand-illuminated, abstract patterns, created by calligrapher Thomas Ingmire, embellish the initials of special copies of the Bible.

The text is printed by letterpress on Somerset, a mouldmade paper manufactured from all-cotton fiber by the Inveresk Mill in England. Designed for ease of reading, the text is set in Romulus, a typeface originally drawn by the eminent Dutch designer Jan Van Krimpen between 1931 and 1937 and later developed for machine composition by the Monotype Corporation. Named for the legendary founder of Rome, Romulus is a letter of graceful, clean lines and open readability.

The prose portions of the text are set on a full measure (that is, the width of the page), while the metrical portions, such as Psalms and Proverbs, are set in double columns, an arrangement both pleasing and practical for the reader. The design of the Arion Bible’s chapter and verse numbers serves two functions. They are easy to spot when readers are looking for a particular reference, and yet, the reader passes over them as nearly invisible when reading for meaning. The pages demonstrate legibility for the reader and aesthetic unity for the beholder.

At different stages of production, Arion Press publisher Andrew Hoyem drew upon both traditional and modern tools. Hoyem worked with computer-based text prepared by the National Council of Churches to ensure textual accuracy and laid out the Bible’s pages using the newest Macintosh computer. In an unusual adaptation of computer technology, a Monotype casting machine received its instructions from a vintage Macintosh computer, thus bypassing the process of typing the Bible’s text on the Monotype keyboard. The type for the Bible was cast letter by letter in the publisher’s historic typefoundry, which still uses some equipment brought to California in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition.

The Arion Press is the nation’s leading publisher of fine-press books, spanning classics to contemporary literature to works of new scholarship. Many incorporate original work by such artists as Martin Puryear, Jim Dine, Wayne Thiebaud, Barry Moser, Ida Applebroog, William T. Wiley, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Motherwell, and Jasper Johns. Its publications are widely collected and exhibited by individuals and such libraries and museums as the British Library, Museum of Modern Art, and New York Public Library.

The Historic Bookmaking Operation

A unique enterprise in several respects, the Press is the country’s largest integrated letterpress printing and fine bookmaking facility. Here books are produced step by step, from the casting of metal type, through design, illustration, printing, and binding. Arion is a direct descendant of the Grabhorn Press, with a vast collection of rare and historic types and equipment, and also incorporates the last fully functioning typefoundry in the nation. M & H Type (Mackenzie & Harris) was established in San Francisco in 1915. Some of its typecasting machinery was displayed at the Panama-Pacific Exposition and has been in continuous use ever since. In recognition of its historic status, in 2000 the facility was designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the nation’s "irreplaceable cultural treasures."

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