The Death Warrant

In an earlier post, I suggested the presence of a shift in aesthetic at Auerhahn Press once Jay McIlroy sold his part of the business to Andrew Hoyem. Here is Haselwood from the Johnston interview on this shift: "But suddenly it was all done in a very different way. The Reps book was printed in Japan by collotype and it is beautiful. You can't tell that these are not original sumi ink drawings because the collotype will do that. It's the only way you can do it. But it was done in Japan and it's this elegant book. Has anyone ever seen one? It's fairly rare. It was boxed and very fancy. Now I had done limited hardcover editions of some of these books I had done so far to help pay for the rest of the edition. You did a few hard-cover editions signed by the author, so these paid for the rest of the books, so you could sell them for $1 and everyone could have one. That was the idea. But suddenly we began getting into these 'exquiste' productions. I think Andy is a great printer. I dont really want to get nasty about this, because it was just that he really wanted to go in a different direction than I did and he's done an incredible body of work, but that;s not what I wanted to do, so from the very beginning, it was the beginning of the end. When we formed this partnership, it became this tug immediately."

The above business card epitomizes the "beginning of the end" of Auerhahn Press. The "Made in Italy" in the lower left corner. The card as "very fancy," "exquiste" and "elegant."

Also of interest is the role of the collector in the Auerhahn business plan. Haselwood states in the Johnston interview that he did not want the collectible book at all and it is implied that Hoyem brought that business model into Auerhahn. That is not really the case. As the above quote shows, the collector always had a role in the Press, but it was a question of degree. For Haselwood, collectors subsidized "the rest of the books," which were designed for "everyone." Under the Hoyem model, all the books were "exquiste productions" specifically designed with the collector or connoisseur in mind.

According to Secret Location, "[s]ome of Haselwood's later titles were considered outrageously overpriced when they were first offered for sale at $10 each." Note this is the later titles; the one's after Hoyem's arrival and influence. Yet what is remarkable about Auerhahn Press titles on today's market is how affordable they are. The most expensive Auerhahn title on Abebooks is the signed limited of McClure's Dark Brown, printed on Alexandra Japan paper, handbound in full leather at the Schuberth Bindery, for $1450. This is the first book printed under the new partnership but largely of Haselwood's vision and design. Almost half the Auerhahn titles currently available are $40 or under. The Arion Press Ulysses with etchings by Robert Motherwell is almost $50,000.



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