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Grabhorn Press Bibliography Template

Francis Peloubet Farquhar (December 31, 1887 – November 21, 1974) was an American mountaineer, environmentalist and author in addition to his career as a Certified Public Accountant.

Early life[edit]

Farquhar was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of David Webber Farquhar (1844–1905) and Grace Thaxter Peloubet (1863–1943).[1] He attended Harvard University, where he edited The Harvard Crimson for three years and studied under, among others, Bliss Perry and George Santayana.[2] Graduating from Harvard in 1909, he came to San Francisco in 1910, where he worked for a publisher and began a lifelong interest in fine printing. He visited Yosemite and joined the Sierra Club in 1911. He then returned to New England to pursue the profession of accounting, studying under Clinton Scovell, a pioneer in the field of cost accounting.


In 1914 he moved again to California. He served in the Navy there and in Washington, D.C., during World War I. In 1922 he set up his own accounting firm in San Francisco. In 1936 he brought in Clifford Heimbuchder, who soon became a full partner in the firm, renamed Farquhar and Heimbucher.[3]

Farquhar was active in the Sierra Club, serving on its board of directors from 1924 to 1951 and president in 1933-1935 and 1948-1949. He served as Sierra Club Bulletin editor from 1926 to 1946.

Farquhar was a mountaineer who invited Robert L. M. Underhill to introduce proper use of modern Alpine rope techniques to Sierra Club members on an annual club High Trip in 1931. He made multiple first ascents. On August 26, 1921, he completed the first ascent of Middle Palisade by the south-west chute with Ansel Hall.[4]

He was the author of numerous articles for the Sierra Club and the California Historical Society, some of which were reprinted in book form. In 1956-59 he was editor of the American Alpine Journal published by the American Alpine Club. He edited and wrote forewords for several books on California history. His best known book is History of the Sierra Nevada (1965), which is still in print.

In addition to serving as Sierra Club president, he was president of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants (1942-43), California Academy of Sciences (1950-53), and the California Historical Society (1960-62). In 1965 he was awarded the Sierra Club's John Muir Award for distinguished work as a conservationist and mountaineer. He received the Henry R. Wagner Memorial Award of the California Historical Society in 1966. The University of California at Los Angeles conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in 1967.[2]

Family life[edit]

In 1934 he married Marjory Bridge, fellow mountaineer; they had three children, Peter, Suzanne and Roger. His half brother was the Los Angeles architect Robert D. Farquhar, who moved in with the Farquhars in Berkeley in 1953. Marjorie Bridge Farquhar died in 1999 in San Francisco.[5]


Mount Farquhar (12,893'), located 1.6 miles (2.6 km) northwest of Mount Brewer in Kings Canyon National Park, was named in his honor.[6]

Since 1970, the Sierra Club has given the Francis P. Farquhar Mountaineering Award in his honor.

Selected writings[edit]

  • 1925: Exploration of the Sierra Nevada, California Historical Society
  • 1926: Place Names of the High Sierra, Sierra Club
  • 1930: Up and Down California in 1860-1864: The Journal of William H. Brewer, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA)
  • 1932: Joaquin Murieta, the Brigand Chief of California, Grabhorn Press, San Francisco
  • 1938: Preface to Clarence King's The Helmet of Mambrino, The Book Club of California
  • 1943: A Brief Chronology of Discovery in the Pacific Ocean from Balboa to Capt. Cook's First Voyage, 1513 to 1770, Grabhorn Press, San Francisco
  • 1947: Preface and editing, Clarence King's Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada
  • 1948: Yosemite, the Big Trees and the High Sierra: A Selective Bibliography, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), ISBN 978-1-57898-155-7
  • 1950: Flight to the North Pole, 24 August 1949, Grabhorn Press (Berkeley, CA)
  • 1953: First Ascents Throughout the World, 1901-1950, Grabhorn Press (Berkeley, CA)
  • 1953: The Books of the Colorado River & the Grand Canyon, Fretwater Press, ISBN 978-1-892327-14-7
  • 1957: Place Names for Bohemians: Clubhouse to Grove, Silverado Squatters
  • 1959: Naming Alaska's mountains: with some accounts of their first ascents, American Alpine Club
  • 1965: History of the Sierra Nevada, University of California Press, Berkeley, ISBN 0-520-01551-7
  • 1968: "Comments on Some Bay Area Fine Printers" in Edwin Grabhorn: Recollections of the Grabhorn Press, University of California, Bancroft Library, Regional Oral History Office


External links[edit]

The Grabhorn Press was one of the foremost American producers of finely-printed books from the early 1920s to the mid-1960s. Their fine printing establishment is documented in a comprehensive public exhibition on view at the Grolier Club from May 13 to August 1, 2015. The more than one hundred books and objects on display—selected from a corpus of over 650 books and countless ephemera—offer unprecedented insight into the Grabhorn Press’s remarkable contribution to the art of the book. Curated by Andrew Hoyem, the publisher at Arion Press who was affiliated with the Grabhorns from 1964 to 1973, and associate curator Dr. Simran Thadani, the show is enhanced by important letters, design mock-ups, photographs and other archival material drawn primarily from Hoyem’s collection, and from the archives of the Grabhorn Institute. 

Based in San Francisco, the Grabhorn Press was a descendant of the “arts and crafts” movement started by William Morris in England for the revival of fine printing in the late nineteenth century. Before and during the Grabhorns’ time, there were others in the United States who inherited, practiced, and innovated upon the “arts and crafts” ideals. What set the Grabhorns apart from other Americans of their era were the variety, quality, and quantity of their accomplishments.

The brothers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn came to San Francisco in 1920, with printing experience but scant schooling. Highly intelligent, both had a keen aesthetic sense and were voracious readers; they immediately stood out for their exuberant and adventuresome approach to bookmaking, captivating the city’s already well-established bibliophile population with their imaginative and colorful books. 

Over the course of the next 45 years, their enormously varied output demonstrated the brothers’ keen sense of design and mastery of historic and contemporary modes of typographic expression. By 1921, the Grabhorns had already printed a book for the Book Club of California, the organization that would become their primary client. One of their landmark books was H. M. T. Powell’s The Santa Fé Trail to California 1849-1852 (1931). Powell travelled from Illinois to San Diego along what is now called the Southern Emigrant Trail, then back home via Panama, Nicaragua, and New Orleans. This chronicle was printed for the first time by the Grabhorns. 

Most of their work was contractual, with the proviso that they were entrusted with design authority. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1928) was the second book published by Random House. The publisher, Bennett Cerf, made a casual visit to the Press in 1928, just as the Grabhorns completed printing The Voiage and Traveile of Sir John Maundeville, and was so taken with the book that he bought the entire edition and had the title page reprinted to change the publisher’s name. Cerf commissioned several deluxe limited edition books, including the Grabhorn masterpiece, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1930). Widely recognized as a monument of twentieth-century fine printing, it was a winner of the AIGA Fifty Books of the Year. The 430-page folio volume with thirty-seven woodblocks took more than a year from inception to completion. It sold for $100.00 a copy just before the Great Depression put a damper on fine press printing and rare book collecting. 

The Grabhorn Press was also a publisher, notably of rare Americana and of the plays of Shakespeare. A Midsommer Nights Dreame, the fifth in the series of plays, is a small quarto with vibrant bursts of color to the text provided by Mary Grabhorn’s six square linoleum-block illustrations.

The Grabhorns admired the work of Bruce Rogers and considered themselves his “best students,” although they were never to meet him. They practiced what Rogers called “allusive printing,” in which the selection of type, decoration, and page layout allude to aspects of a book’s contents. They assembled remarkable holdings of type for hand composition, favoring the types of Frederic W. Goudy, who designed the Press’s private type, Franciscan. 

The Grabhorn Press staff was always small: just one or two typesetters and pressmen, plus a bookbinder or two. Considering how few people worked at the Grabhorn Press, it is amazing how many books were produced annually. Its bibliography lists 654 titles—an average of 14.2 books per year, over one a month. These figures do not include pamphlets, ephemera, stationery, and other job printing that was regularly done.

National recognition came early and often: a gold medal from the American Institute of Graphic Arts (1926); an exhibition at the Huntington Library (1945); and an exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution that travelled to Indianapolis, Washington, D. C., and San Francisco’s de Young Museum (1961-1963).

The Grabhorn Press closed in December 1965. The following summer, Robert and Jane formed a partnership with Andrew Hoyem, called Grabhorn-Hoyem, that lasted until their deaths in 1973. The imprint was changed to Arion Press, which has gone on to publish more than one hundred books. Located in the Presidio of San Francisco, the vast and distinctive holdings of type and equipment assembled by Edwin and Robert Grabhorn form the core collection of a working museum of printing and the book arts launched in 2001. Named in their honor, the non-profit Grabhorn Institute is devoted to education and the preservation of the nation’s most complete and fully functioning letterpress printing operation that includes a type foundry and hand bookbindery. The Grabhorn Institute is one of the supporters of this exhibition.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, with photographs of the Grabhorns and their associates and ten color plates of Grabhorn Press books. 


  • September 16-November 21, 2015. “Alice in Translation.” Curated by Jon A. Lindseth and Alan Tannenbaum.
  • December 9, 2015-February 6, 2016. “The Grolier Club Collects II.” Curated by Eric Holzenberg and Arthur Schwarz.

Image: Leaves of Grass, Comprising All the Poems Written by Walt Whitman, Following the Arrangement of the Edition of 1891-92. Woodcuts by Valenti Angelo. New York: Random House, 1930. 

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