The Allen Press Genesis

The Book of Genesis.
Kentfield, California: Allen Press, 1970.
(Prothro B-280)

Designed, printed, and bound by Lewis and Dorothy Allen at The Allen Press – Illustrations and Engravings by Blair Hughes-Stanton – Binding cloth hand-blocked in Venice by Fortuny

The husband and wife team of Lewis and Dorothy Allen founded the Allen Press in 1939, printing their first publication in their home in 1940. The Allens were committed to hand-craftsmanship and quality materials, typography, color, and illustration. They intended each of these elements to display the work of important authors and artists harmoniously and “with delicacy, restraint, and apparent casualness.”

For the Book of Genesis, the Allens strove to create a work that would convey “the eternalness of the text.” They achieved this effect through a combination of Menhart Unciala type printed in brown on beige Umbria paper, handmade in Italy. Orange and green highlights appear throughout, including decorative calligraphic page headings of the word “Genesis” in Hebrew. They selected tissues and endpapers to evoke exoticism. Central to the book are twenty-four wood engravings by Blair Hughes-Stanton (1902–1981), whom the Allens counted among the subset of artists “of stature” with whom they had worked. They described Hughes-Stanton’s one-color images as “marvelously primitive and vital.” The edition was limited to one hundred forty copies.

This copy is from the collection of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro at Bridwell Library.