The Petrarch Press

Peter Bishop’s Petrarch Press (1985-1996)

Peter Bishop’The Petrarch Press was founded in California’s Sierra foothills in 1985 by Peter Bishop with the aim to publish important world literature in fine, hand-printed editions. Starting out “with Lewis Allen’s Printing with the Handpress in one hand and a composing stick in the other”, and inspired by the work of Joseph Blumenthal and Giovanni Mardersteig, Peter taught himself to print, in the tradition of earlier fine-press printers, on his 1865 cast-iron Albion Super Royal handpress. Peter then accepted the additional challenge of learning to print on parchment, a material used by early fine printers for special copies of important books. This became a hallmark of the Petrarch Press, where a number of special copies of every major book were printed on sheepskin parchment.

Peter Bishop’s Petrarch Press

Peter soon moved his press to New York City, where he continued to publish books, and to accept commissions for fine printing, including greeting cards, invitations, brochures, and special books. Peter returned to California in 1995, and retired from printing the following year.

In the summer of 2002, Peter was diagnosed with cancer, which galvanized a group of his friends to re-establish, before his death in March 2003, the Petrarch Press as a non-profit organization dedicated to continuing Peter’s directions and printing standards and to promoting the book arts.

Petrarch Press Books 1986-1996For a description of the books Peter Bishop issued, see our Handlist of the Petrarch Press’s early publications.