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Peter Koch, Printers ~ California

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Peter Koch: "In pursuit of my art, I am deeply committed to the crafts of typography, papermaking, printing, bookbinding and the design of books and I support these crafts as intensely as I can. A duality of commitment defines my art. I firmly stand on the side of the argument that there is no art without craft. Art without craft denies the difficult beauty of a thing well made, the elegant simplicity of an idea. Through craft and the precision of design, I seek to bring the rich civilization of the printed book with me to the forge of meaning."


del Milion Editions publications
Edition Koch imprints
Collaborations with Richard Wagener

Hard High-Country Poems
English translation by Robert Bringhurst
Drypoint engraving by Joseph Goldyne
The Typographic Legacy of Ludovico Degli Arrighi
By Robert Bringhurst
Berkeley, California: Peter Koch Printer, 2015. Edition of 126 (112 numbered, 10 AP, 4 PP).

6 x 10 x 1" slipcase containing two volumes in chemise. Cover wrappers derived from photographs of standing type-metal forms used to print the poems. Slipcase covered in reproduction of the rare Ludovico degli Arrighi [Type Specimen Sheet]. Slipcase and binding in quarter leather and printed paper over boards by John Demerritt.

Hard High-Country Poems (9.5 x 5.75", 32 pages) was designed and printed on the Gietz Universal platen press by Peter Koch with the assistance of Jonathan Gerken. The Italian was composed by Michael Bixler in Monotype Arrighi and printed directly from the metal type. Bringhurst’s translation was handset by Mark Livingston from original foundry Vicenza & Arrighi types cut in 1925-26 by Charles Plumet for Frederic Warde. The preface and colophon pages were composed in a custom digital version of Monotype foundry Arrighi and printed from photo-polymer plates. The poems are printed on vintage Amalfi Amatruda handmade paper. The frontispiece, a drypoint portrait of Michelangelo by Joseph Goldyne, was printed by Robert Townsend. Signed by Bringhurst, Goldyne, and Koch. Numbered.

The Typographic Legacy of Ludovico degli Arrighi (9.5 x 5.75"; 36 pages) is set in custom-made digital variants of foundry Monotype Arrighi and Centaur types and printed letterpress from polymer plates on Hahnemühle Biblio paper. Initialed by Koch. Numbered.

Peter Koch: "Michelangelo is the most celebrated of all visual artists, and one of the few who are admired in equal measure for sculpture, painting, and architecture. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that he was also a great poet. In fact he was, without much doubt, the greatest lyric poet of his time in the Italian language. ...

"He treated his poems casually – very much like sketches rather than finished works of art – and they remained uncollected and unpublished for seventy years after his death. When they did appear in print, in 1623, they had been heavily censored and bowdlerized by their editor, Michelangelo’s grand-nephew. ...

"About 300 of his poems survive. Many are sonnets, but most are in a more supple form known as the madrigal. Among the best are a group composed when Michelangelo was in his sixties. These are poems written for or about Vittoria Colonna, evidently the only woman whom the adult Michelangelo ever loved.

"The Italian texts of Michelangelo’s poems, Bringhurst’s English translations, and his accompanying essay are all set in fonts that are descended from the chancery italics designed in the 1520s by the brilliant but short-lived calligrapher and printer Ludovico degli Arrighi. ...

"Typographic historians routinely mention Arrighi, but few have understood his real importance to the field. Bringhurst makes an excellent case for considering Arrighi to be the world’s first type designer in the modern sense of the word: the first skilled calligrapher who drew letters specifically for punchcutters to cut ...

"An afterword by Peter Rutledge Koch describes the provenance of the rare typefaces used to print the poems as well as the legendary printing press used to print the books. The essay is illustrated with two tipped-in photo-reproductions of the punches, from photographs by Amelia Hugill-Fontanel."




















Koch Ephemera
By Peter Rutledge Koch
Berkeley, California: Peter Koch, 2007. Edition of 27.

Peter Koch: "A collection from the printing presses of Peter Rutledge Koch with an introductory essay by Timothy D. Murray [Head of Special Collections, University of Delaware].

"This collection includes over 100 pieces of literary, artistic, bibliophile, and business printing weighing 12 pounds (including the box), produced under a number of different imprints including Black Stone Press, Hormone Derange Editions, Editions Koch, and Peter Koch, Printers. The contents range from a flier advertising the maverick literary journal MONTANA GOTHIC (Koch’s first piece of design, circa 1974 ... using lettraset and an AB Dick copy machine!), letterpress printed bookplates and wine labels, to a laser-printed pamphlet, all designed and printed between 1974 and 2007 by master printer, Peter Rutledge Koch at his studios in Missoula, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley.

"The box, reminiscent of a 19th century letterbox, measuring 11.5 by 15 x 5.5 inches wide, was constructed (with splendid craftsmanship) by Taurus Bookbindery in San Francisco of acid free materials and vintage Buckram.

"The accompanying essays and the list of contents are included as the 2007 contribution. In addition to the stated contents each box will have several items that are not included on the list due to the fact that we had less than 27 exemplars of certain materials we deemed appropriate to include in this collection.

The edition of 27 boxes are press-numbered on the spine.

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By Joseph Brodsky
Photographs by Robert Morgan
Venice: Peter Koch Printer, 2006. Edition of 50.

11 x 16.5 "; 80 pages. Printed on Twinrocker Da Vinci handmade, with watermark designed by Christopher Stinehour and Susan Filter. Photographs by Robert Morgan digitally re-configured by Donald Farnsworth and printed at his Magnolia Editions in Oakland, California, from photogravure plates made by Unai San Martin. Text printed in Monotype Dante types cast in lead at the Olivieri Typefoundry in Milano. Bound in pigmented papers made by hand at Cave Papers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Of the edition of 50: 1 to 30 bound in Venetian-red hand made papers and housed in a hand painted wooden enclosure; I to V designate the deluxe edition bound in full vellum, housed in a unique box with a brass plate imbedded on the surface, includes a suite of all 14 photo-gravures signed by the artist; 15 copies hors commerce.

Peter Koch, Printers: "Watermark is a series of lyrical meditations woven from the fabric of Venice in the late 20th century ... meditations on time & beauty ... a looking glass romance of a Russian poet-in-exile with a city that beguiles his eye. Brodsky dedicated Watermark to his friend the American painter, Robert Morgan who has lived in Venice for more than 30 years and the book is illustrated with 14 photo-gravures made from his original photographs."

Peter Koch, "Printing in the Shadow of Aldus," Parenthesis: "This adventure began when my wife, Susan Filter, began pressing me to consider printing Watermark, a series of essays in memoir form, by the poet and Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky. Watermark is a series of lyrical meditations woven from the fabric of late twentieth-century Venice, and a meditation on time and beauty and love - a looking glass romance of a Russian poet-in-exile with a city that beguiled his eye.

"Venice - where it is said the mirror was perfected - is a city in which one contemplates beauty by merely opening one's eyes. . . .

"Susan met Joseph in Venice in the mid-1980s while he was writing Watermark and she was studying paper conservation. She and Brodsky became great friends and remained so until his death in 1996. Susan and I met in 2001, and by 2005, she was determined to see a work from his hand fall under the imprint I had established to publish works of art and literature in hand-made editions.

"Early on in our planning we invited Susan's friend Robert Morgan, a painter and longtime friend of Brodsky's, to illustrate the work with his photographs. (Brodsky dedicated Watermark to Morgan in 1986). The real challenge that confronted Susan was how to persuade me to print it in Venice. Admittedly, I was pre-disposed to the idea. I had already dedicated a considerable portion of my life to re-inventing the renaissance ideal of the scholar-artist-printer in a post-modern context. ..."

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Real Lead
By Peter Koch, Printers
Berkeley, California: Peter Koch Printers / Hormone Derange Editions, 2002. Edition of 125.

5 x 10.25"; 128 pages. Hand-bound by Victoria Heifner in quarter-cloth over Davey board with hand woven headbands and an extra spine label tipped in. Cover board features a rodeo engraving printed in terra cotta, and text printed in green and marigold.

Peter Koch, Printers: "A humorous typographic specimen book designed and printed by Hannah Berman, Karen Eng, Max Koch, Marina Luz, and Chadwick Bidwell, under the direction of Peter Koch. A sampling of rare and antique metal and wood types as well as a selection of electrotypes and wood engravings belonging to Peter Koch Printers designed as if issued from a frontier print shop."

Introduction: "The primary sources of our collection are geographically distant but similar in nature. The most distant – newspaper and job shops in or near the Montana towns of Dillon, Freezeout, Fort Enton, Hamilton, and Phillipsburg - were rapidly disappearing in the 1970's. This selection represents the very end of letterpress job shops in the state. Small newspaper and printing shops in Chinatown and North Beach dominate our San Francisco collection; and twenty-five years of visits to the various garages and warehouse of James Heaghy have inevitably proven fruitful."


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Collaborations with Richard Wagener, printer and wood engraver

California in Relief
Thirty Wood Engravings

By Richard Wagener
San Francisco: The Book Club of California, 2009. Edition of 300.

7.75 x 12.5"; 88 pages. Letterpress printed by Peter Koch. Wood engravings printed by Richard Wagener. Typeface, DTL Elzevir, designed by Gerard Daniels. Printed on Zerkall Buttenpapier. Paper covered boards with cloth spine. Paper title label on spine. Laid in paper wrapper with engraving on front . Slipcased.

Peter Koch, Printer: "Working in the demanding medium of wood engraving, artist Richard Wagener has created a visual itinerary of his wanderings throughout California in his brilliant new work, California in Relief.

"Composed of thirty original prints and Wagener's short prose pieces describing them, California in Relief begins and ends in Los Angeles, with stops in the San Jacinto Mountains, the Antelope Valley, Sonoma County, and the Sierra Nevada. Like John Muir and Gary Snyder, Richard Wagener is a wanderer, explorer, and observer of California, creating a poetry of place through both words and images, all born of actual experience.

"Not since Paul Landacre mastered the aesthetic and technical challenges of wood engraving in the early twentieth-century has any California artist achieved prominence in the medium until Richard Wagener began to explore it in the 1980s. His previously published illustrated books have won wide acclaim for their ingenuity and beauty, and The Book Club of California is pleased to be the publisher of this magnificent work. Wagener's images of nature - his stately Sierra trees, stark peaks, and rocky crags - and his urban architectural monuments - the Pantages Theater and the Griffith Observatory - combine to make this work a deeply personal record of distinctive California locations. Wagener's technical skill is such that the images shimmer, jewel-like, concise renditions in black and white of sunlight and shadow, landscape and sky."
$750 (standard edition)

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The Fragments of Parmenides
& an English translation by Robert Bringhurst
Wood engravings by RichardWagener
Berkeley, California: Editions Koch, 2004. Edition of 146.

10 x 17"; 64 pages. Text letterpress printed on Zerkall paper by Peter Koch Printers. Wood engravings printed by the artist. Main text set by hand in Parmenides Greek. Translation set in Monotype Dante at the Golgoonoza Letter Foundry. Afterword set in special digital Dante, New Hellenic Greek, and Lazurski Cyrillic, and printed from polymer plates. Greek type on the cover is Diogenes. Bound by Peggy Gotthold at Foolscap Press in quarter leather and Hahnemühle Bugra paper. Enclosed in a case covered in gold Japanese silk. Signed by Koch, Wagener, and Bringhurst.

Peter Koch, Printers: "The text is comprised of all twenty Greek fragments, varying in length from only a few words to 66 hexameters, of a poem composed by Parmenides almost 2,500 years ago in southern Italy. For this project, Peter Koch commissioned Dan Carr to create a new typeface that balanced the lyricism and movement of the handwritten poem and the formality of a carefully-made inscription. Parmenides Greek, the foundry face designed, cut, and cast by Carr at the Golgonooza Letter Foundry, is accompanied by Diogenes Greek, a digital face designed by Christopher Stinehour. Printed in Greek on the left with the translation by Bringhurst on the facing page. Greek text handset in Parmenides Greek at the press by Richard Seibert, Robert Bringhurst, and Peter Koch; English text set in Monotype Dante at the Golgonooza Letter Foundry; cover text, printed in red and black, set in Diogenes Greek. 5 wood engravings that boldly accent the text are hand-printed by Wagener in vibrant red, fiery orange and velvety black on Zerkall mill paper."

Peter Koch, Carving the Elements: A Companion to the Fragments of Parmenides: "Winter in Montana is a time for reflection and also for deep reading. I read Plato's dialogue Parmenides while a student of Henry Bugbee in the University of Montana's Department of Philosophy. I was attracted to that most obscure of the dialogues because it was a difficult and enigmatic text and I was determined to break my head. But the Parmenides of Plato and the Parmenides of Professor Henry Bugbee were two entirely different studies. Plato portrayed him as a powerful but ultimately confusing and contradictory dialectician, the perfect foil for the Socratic interrogative and clarifying methods he preferred. Bugbee presented him (through Kirk & Raven's edition of the fragments) as one of the two most original thinkers in the Greek tradition, standing in the river of thought at the fork where one branch leads to the Many and the other leads to the One. Parmenides fished at the source of the One, Herakleitos at the source of the Many. Thinking at the source, I concluded, was simple and clear and worth the trek upstream.

"Parmenides stands at a stillpoint in the chaos of thinking, at the source of Being. The river of thought runs past him but he cuts the current with the blade of his cunning, Parmenides reveals little but withstands everything."

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Editions Koch imprints

The Musæum Kochianum
By Editions Koch
Berkeley, California: Editions Koch & Stanford University Libraries, 2017. Edition of 15.

The Musæum Kochianum consists of a boxed edition of the three-volume catalogue "Peter Koch Printer" accompanied by a fourth volume entitled "The Ur-text Musæum" and a boxed selection of four exhibition catalogues, printed ephemera, announcements, and a variety of prospectuses issued from the press over that past forty years.

Three Volume Catalogue "Peter Koch Printer" [Edition of 350]

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Volume I:



Peter Koch Printer: Embodied Language and the Form of the Book: A Descriptive Bibliography [1974–2016]
Contents: Essays by Mark Dimunation and Timothy D. Murray, and an interview with Peter Rutledge Koch by Roberto G. Trujillo. Bibliography by Nina M. Schneider.

Volume 2:





Hard Words: Memory and Death in the Wild West
Hard Words documents Koch’s “Western Suite,” which consists of three portfolio editions, two books, and two installation/exhibitions dedicated to themes of exploration and the subsequent destruction of the American West. The two volumes, Liber Ignis and The Lost Journals of Sacajewea, are fully illustrated in facsimile. Two exhibition portfolios, Hard Words and Nature Morte, are also presented in their entirety. The editions and commentaries are accompanied by a lengthy critical essay by novelist and scholar Aaron Parrett.

Volume 3:



Against Design: Interview with Peter Rutledge Koch by Monique Comacchio and Camden Richards.
Against Design focuses on the typographic design and letter­press printing that has issued from the Koch studios for more than four decades. Illustrated with examples of Koch’s bibliophilic, typographic, and cowboy surrealist ephemera.

The Ur-text Musæum [Edition of 15]

Koch Editions: "The Ur-text Musæum, a suite of studies for a work-in-progress, consists of ten bifolia printed on vintage Fabriano Umbria handmade paper at Peter Koch Printers and Magnolia Editions. The Musaeum, composed of appropriated texts and images, is altered, annotated, and supplemented by Koch’s visual and verbal imagination— a surreal Liber Chronicarum for the 21st Century.
"The origin of The Ur-text Musæum is Ur-text Volume 2, begun in 1994 and abandoned in favor of this treatment in 2017. The conceptual forerunners are Koch’s Ur-Text Volume 1, Christopher Plantin’s polyglot Biblia Regia, and Anton Koberger’s Liber Chronicarum. Texts include selections from the Book of Genesis (Jerome translation; also appearing in Hebrew and Greek); The Revelation of St. John from The New English Bible; the Inferno by Dante Alighieri; I Modi by Pietro Aretino; The Effects of Nuclear Weapons by The United States Department of Defense, with additional marginalia, commentary, and Koch’s long poem “Magnus Annus” first published in The Aldebaran Review, Berkeley, 1968. "Images are collected from a number of sources including: Liber Chronicarum by Hartmann Schedel, Nuremburg 1493, I Modi by Pietro Aretino, Venice 1550; Heinrich Khunrath’s Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae, Solius, Verae, Christiano- Kabalisticum, Divino-Magicum, Physico-Chymicum, Tertriunum-Catholicon. Hamburg 1595; The Robert Fludd’s Utriusque Cosmi ... metaphysica, physica atque technica Historia, &c., Oppenheim and Frankfort, 1617–24; The Effects of Nuclear Weapons United States Department of Defense and the Energy Research and Development Administration Washington D.C. 1977; with additional images from US Department of Defense; the Library Of Congress; the Montana Historical Society Photographic Archives; random internet captures; etc."

Koch Ephemera [selected 1974-2016] [Edition of 15]

An assembling of ephemera, original prints, exhibition and lecture announcements, posters, type specimens, etc. — also includes four exhibition catalogues: Peter Koch Printer | Cowboy Surrealists, Maverick Poets & Pre-Socratic Philosophers published jointly by the New York Public and the San Francisco Public Libraries in 1995; Peter Koch Printer | Recent Work published by the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, The Houghton Library, Harvard University [1995]; Hard Words published by Gallery 16 and the University of Montana Art Galeries [2000]; Nature Morte published by the Holter Museum of Art [2004].



Peter Koch Printer: A Descriptive Bibliography [1974-2016]
By Editions Koch
Berkeley, California: Editions Koch & Stanford University Libraries, 2017. Edition of 350.

9 x 12"; 496 pages. Three volumes in slipcase.

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Volume I:


Peter Koch Printer: Embodied Language and the Form of the Book: A Descriptive Bibliography [1974–2016] Essays by Mark Dimunation and Timothy D. Murray, and an interview with Peter Rutledge Koch by Roberto G. Trujillo. Bibliography by Nina M. Schneider.

Volume 2:



Hard Words: Memory and Death in the Wild West Hard Words documents Koch’s “Western Suite,” which consists of three portfolio editions, two books, and two installation/exhibitions dedicated to themes of exploration and the subsequent destruction of the American West. The two volumes, Liber Ignis and The Lost Journals of Sacajewea, are fully illustrated in facsimile. Two exhibition portfolios, Hard Words and Nature Morte, are also presented in their entirety. The editions and commentaries are accompanied by a lengthy critical essay by novelist and scholar Aaron Parrett.

Volume 3:

Against Design: Interview with Peter Rutledge Koch by Monique Comacchio and Camden Richards.
Against Design focuses on the typographic design and letter­press printing that has issued from the Koch studios for more than four decades.
Robert Bringhurst: "Peter Koch is an artist among printers. He knows the tradition, all the way back. He also knows it as far forward as anyone can. As a master practitioner of an ancient art, he has joined forces repeatedly with those who are chipping away at the technological frontier, and with others who persevere in the most demanding manual crafts. He engages, as great printers always have, in collaborations with master papermakers, printmakers, wood engravers, punchcutters, binders, and others who make the book what it is: a rich and varied but private and portable theater that nourishes and unifies the body and the mind."

The Helen Fragments:
from books three & six of Homer's Iliad

Translated by Richard Seibert
Drawings by Winifred McNeill
Berkeley: Editions Koch, 2003. Edition of 150.

5.5 x 11"; 120 pages. Text composed in Monotype Quadraat. Epigraph composed in Wilson Greek. Printed from photo-polymer plates on Zerkall Bütten-Karten paper by Max Koch at the Koch Studio. Cover paper by David Kimball. Non-adhesive, external, long-stitch binding with leather tabs designed by Victoria Heifner and bound by John DeMerritt. Edition enclosed in a paper-covered slipcase with spine tab plus chemise.

Peter Koch, Printers: "The Helen Fragments is a collaboration between two contemporary artists who have come together over an ancient text that has fascinated readers for millennia. The poet and printer, Richard Seibert, has selected portions from Homer's Iliad that tell the tumultuous story of Helen of Troy and has translated them from the original Greek into contemporary lyric.

"Winifred McNeill, a New York based artist, working over a period of two years, completed over a hundred drawings for this project. Each of the fifty fragments is accompanied by a drawing that has been reconfigured digitally under the supervision of the artist and printed letterpress from polymer plate."

Winifred McNeill, web site: "The protagonists, drawn by [me] in the nude save for helmets and one surprising pair of high heels, act out their destiny on a narrow stage framed above and below by classical friezes. The quivering stroke of the pen sustains the tension of battle, the tempest of passion."

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del Milion Editions publications
By Christopher Carroll
Berkeley, California: del Milion Editions, 2013. Edition of 80.

7 x 12.5 "; 56 pages. Nicholas Cochin typeface for the text. Fournier Ornate typeface for display. Printed letterpress on Hannemuhle Biblio paper at Peter Koch Printers. Bound in cloth boards executed by John DeMerritt. Signed by the Carroll. Numbered.

Koch Editions: "Paris was designed by Peter Rutledge Koch in collaboration with Christopher Carroll and Susan Filter. Text and images were printed letterpress at Peter Koch Printers for del Milion Editions. The typefaces are Nicholas Cochin for the text and Fournier Ornate for display. (How could we resist?) The original drawings in cut-paper and ink, were scanned at 42 Line and digitally re-configured under the direction of the printer. The text and images were printed on Hahnemühle Biblio, presswork from photopolymer-plates by Max Koch. The elegant chartreuse silk-over-flexible-board binding was executed by John DeMerritt Bookbinders.

"Paris is a delightful alphabet book written and illustrated by fashion designer Christopher Carroll, illustrating his fifty-year love affair with the city of Paris. Carroll has set a sharp eye and wicked sense of humor to work on some of his favorite iconic locations and the charismatic characters that inhabited them. You will encounter Ho Chi Minh in the kitchen of Auguste Escoffier; Oscar Wilde in battle with the wallpaper at the Hotel D’Alsace; and the Surrealist photographer Dora Mar playing a bloody game of 'truth or dare' with a kitchen knife."

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I'll Die Tomorrow
By Mickey Spillane
photography by Karen Filter
Berkeley, California: del Milion Editions, 2011. Edition of 45.

6.5 x 8"; 48 pages. Signed and numbered on the colophon by Karen Filter. Case bound.

Peter Koch: "I'll Die Tomorrow was designed, printed, and bound by Peter Rutledge Koch with the assistance of Jonathan Gerken at Peter Koch Printers for del Milion Editions. The text, set in Bookman Old Style, is printed letterpress on Hahnemühle Photo Rag and the cover is printed on Crane’s Cover. The original photographs are printed with a unique color technique created by Karen Filter and based on Carbro prints from the 1930s & 40s and Technicolor from the 1950s. They were selected from her 'B-Movie Series' and 'Detective Series' shot in the 1980s. The photographs were then scanned and corrected under the direction of the artist and reproduced as digital pigment prints at Magnolia Editions in Oakland, California."

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Peter Koch SOLD / Out of Print Titles:  

Zebra Noise
with a flatted 7th

By Richard Wagener
Berkeley, California: Peter Koch Printer, 1998. Edition of 70.

9 x 15" : 110 pages. Designed and printed on Zerkall paper by Peter Koch and Richard Wagener. Text composed in Monotype Ehrhardt cast by the Golgonooza Letter Foundry. Bound by Peggy Gotthold using quarter leather and printed gray Fabriano Roma paper over boards, with gold lettering on the spine. Housed in a red cloth slipcase plus gray chemise. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Peter Koch, Printer: "This abecedarium and bestiary was commissioned by Peter Koch from the artist Richard Wagener in 1991. It came to completion seven years later in what has been hailed a tour de force of wood engraving by a modern master. ... The text, twenty-six short fictions written by Wagener that evoke the American West, ... Accompanying the text are twenty-six wood engravings in black that follow the artist's zoological alphabet, from the armadillo, Tolypeutes tricinctus, to the meadow jumping mouse, Zapus hudsonius. In addition to the zoological alphabet blocks, there are twelve engravings in red that serve as backgrounds for the initial letters used to indicate a new section."
(SOLD/Out of Print)


Zebra Noise book
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Page last update: 07.13.2021


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