Book Arts & Special Collections

Marjorie G. and Carl W. Book Arts and Special Collections Center
Houses the following research collections: Robert Grabhorn Collection on the History of Printing and the Development of the Book; Richard Harrison Collection of Calligraphy and Lettering; Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor and the Little Maga/Zine Collection. Holdings also include early children's books; Sherlockiana; materials by and about Robert Frost; works by and about writers associated with the literary life of San Francisco and materials documenting the Panama Canal and its effect on the West Coast.

These non-circulating research collections serve bibliophiles, calligraphers, printers and bookbinders, artists, teachers and students, humorists, scholars and the general public. The Center contains primary and secondary materials in a wide variety of formats, including books, periodicals, newspapers, broadsides, ephemera, audiovisual materials and electronic resources. The Center acquires current and retrospective titles, and retains all titles and holdings with an emphasis on long-term preservation and conservation. Weeding rarely occurs.
Robert Grabhorn Collection on the History of Printing and the Development of the Book
More than 10,000 volumes, 100 journal titles, and 35,000 items of ephemera, artifacts, documentaries and materials in electronic formats supporting the study of printing, papermaking, bookbinding, typography, design and other areas of the traditional book arts; examples of almost every typeface, printer, and publisher of note from Gutenberg to the present day; early type specimens; the work of 16th century French and Italian masters; works of over 400 fine and private presses; the Max J. Kuhl Collection, the Jane Hart Collection on Book Design, and the Wilder Bentley/Archetype Press collection.
Richard Harrison Collection of Calligraphy and Lettering
More than 900 titles supporting the study and practice of historical and contemporary calligraphy, and 1,000 examples of modern calligraphy, including original manuscripts, broadsides, handwritten books, fine prints, limited edition books, drawings, working layouts and photographs; medieval through 17th century manuscript leaves and books and a selection of writing books, both in original and facsimile. Predominantly from the 20th century, the collection provides examples of the work of over 150 individual scribes and lettering artists from the United States and Europe. Collection includes a selection of periodicals, journals from calligraphy societies around the world, videos in VHS and DVD format, and the Lili Cassel Wronker Archive.
Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor (SCOWAH)
More than 21,000 volumes and 230 periodical titles in 35 languages, plus sound recordings and ephemera, spanning 400 years of wit and humor as represented in fairy tales, folklore, proverbs, national and ethnic humor, anecdotes, joke books, cartoon art, comic books, political satire, biography, humorous essays, monologues, plays, novels, popular entertainments, movable books, and humor studies. Works of The New Yorker and Punch writers and artists; full run of Punch (1841-2002); Debenham Comedy Recording Collection (over 17,000 recordings in these formats: 45s, 78s, LPS, CDs; cassettes); the personal archive of Nat Schmulowitz.
Little Maga/Zine Collection
Documents the Little Magazine and Zine movements of the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 1,000 titles of self-published zines, and little magazines representing almost every literary movement from the 1940s to the present; reference books, ephemera, and audiovisual resources supporting the study of the little magazine and zine movements.

Additional Collections

George M. Fox Collection of Early Children's Books
Nineteenth century British and American children's books partially derived from the archives of the American publisher, McLoughlin Brothers (1828-1978). More than 2,000 volumes, particularly strong in early color illustrations, hand-colored, stenciled, block-printed, lithographed, and chromolithographed; small collection of wood blocks.
Robert Frost Collection
More than 200 volumes of inscribed first editions, ephemera and manuscript materials by and about the poet Robert Frost, who was born in San Francisco in 1874.
Sherlock Holmes
More than 275 volumes relating to Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes; includes biography, criticism, first editions and foreign translations, plus a small periodical collection.
Panama Canal Collection
Documents the history and opening of the canal and its dramatic effect on the development of the West Coast; more than 200 volumes plus manuscripts, newspapers, pamphlets, presidential letters, authorizations, confidential reports and ephemera.
James D. Phelan California Authors Collection
More than 1,500 volumes by and about writers, playwrights, and poets associated with the literary life of San Francisco, from its beginnings to the present. Includes the Eric Hoffer Collection, the Pete Winslow Archive, and the Fred Goerner Archive.
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