No one would pursue a career in the fine presses or as an independent publisher were they not themselves passionate, and at least a little idiosyncratic. In the rogues’ gallery of fine presses, one of the best is Auerhahn Press.
Like the City Lights Bookshop (with which it partnered on many occasions), the Auerhahn Press was based in San Francisco at the beginning of the last great cultural renaissance: the ‘Beat’ era and the arrival of the 60s and the New Left. Whereas City Lights was primarily concerned with the poets who entered through its doors, Auerhahn was expressly set up by Dave Haselwood in 1958 ‘to re-marry good printing and good writing’. What followed were a flurry of productions featuring some of the first of the ‘New Era’ of poets such as Burroughs, Snyder, Charles Olson, McClure, and ‘Brother Antonious’ (amongst others), all of whom sort to re-marry in their own works the literary impulses of modernism, surrealism, and the new western urbanism. Auerhahn’s work has been described as “between faded handbill and high art” which is perhaps a definition that they would be proud of.
For any collector interested in the birth of the post-modern, and the beginnings of contemporary literary culture, they will undoubtedly be interested in William Burroughs Exterminator which is a collaboration between Burroughs and the artist Brion Gysin; and one of the first examples of the ‘cut-up’ technique. A first edition copy of this very work (1960, Auerhahn Press) if available now, one of 1000 copies, would be worth at least $500!
For those who may not be fans of Burrough’s and Gysin’s more experimental adventures in literature, then another classic of the birth of the post-modern era would be John Weiner’s The Hotel Wentley Poems – the very first chapbook of poems that Auerhahn printed in 1958, probably valued at between $100-200, which despite its low price would be an excellent addition to any study of the time.
Wieners, John:. The Hotel Wentley Poems.. Auerhahn Press (1958). Signed By Robert Lavigne, Illustrator; 500 copies
Lamantia, Philip. Narcotica.. Auerhahn Press (1959). cover artwork by Wallace Berman
Whalen, Philip. Moemoirs Of An Interglacial Age. Auerhahn Press (1960). sixty copies Signed by the artist, Robert LaVigne
Burroughs, William. The Exterminator.. Auerhahn Press (1960). Brion Gysin; Let Petty Kings The Name Of Party Know Where I Come I Kill Both Friend And Foe; 1000 copies
Welch, Lew. Wobbly Rock.. Auerhahn Press (1960). 500 copies; Illustrated with one black and white drawing by R. LaVigne
Mcclure, Michael. Dark Brown. Auerhahn Press (1961). 25 copies on Alexandra Japan paper sigend by McClure; 750 copies
Olson, Charles. Maximus, From Dogtown -I. Auerhahn Press (1961). Foreword By Michael Mcclure; 500 copies
Williams, Jonathan. In Englands Green and.. Auerhahn Press (1962). (A Garland And A Clyster) With Drawings By Philip Van Aver; 750 copies printed by Dave Haselwood and Andrew Hoyem.
Spicer, Jack. The Heads Of The Town Up To The Aether .. Auerhahn Press (1962). lithographs by Fran Herndon; 50 copies signed by Spicer and artist Fran Herndon, with a frontispiece crayon drawing by Spicer; designed and printed by Andrew Hoyem and Dave Haselwood
Hoyem, Andrew. The Wake.. Auerhahn Press (1963). 750 copies; thirty-five deluxe copies, signed by the poet.
Snyder, Gary. Hop, Skip, And Jump. Auerhahn Press (1964). 350 copies on English handmade paper
Olson, Charles. The Human Universe. Auerhahn Press (1965). Edited By Donald Allen; 250 copies printed by Andrew Hoyem; Five Color Woodcut covers by Robert LaVigne; Photo by Ken Irby; Edited by Donald Allen