Wednesday, January 19, 2011

George Sas of the Marble Hill Press

One of the people who influenced and inspired me as a printer is someone I never had the pleasure of meeting. In the mid 1960s my father Gary Hantke began a correspondence with George Sas of the Marble Hill Press. They exchanged several printed pieces, but never met each other. Marble Hill Press was unusual as a private press in that George Sas didn’t own printing equipment. He worked for a New York City printing and engraving firm as a hand compositor, and one of the perks of his job was the use of plant facilities evenings and weekends. This gave him access to a wealth of beautiful types and ornaments.

The output of the Marble Hill Press was primarily booklets and longer pieces for Christmas cards, printed on heavy cover stock and hand-sewn. Favorite subjects included literature and poetry. Everything was beautifully designed and often printed in several colors.

My father carefully preserved the George Sas booklets and passed them on to my husband and me. To this day their classic elegance and innovative use of color continue to inspire me. It was difficult to choose which of these gorgeous pieces of printing to scan for this blog. I’ll let the printing speak for itself. And thank you, George Sas, wherever you are, for helping me to see the wonderful possibilities of letterpress.

"The Lady of Shalott", published in 1967.

The text of "The Lady of Shalott", printed in purple.

"Moby Dick", published in 1963.

Title page of "Moby Dick".

"Four Poems from The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table" by Oliver Wendell Holmes, published in 1963.

> Title page from "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table"

Spuyten Duyvil, the name for George Sas'
private press after 1969.


  1. No doubt you and George would have gotten along beautifully! He looks like he'd be a fun loving person. What a nice blog about him and such nice pieces!

  2. Amazed to find another George Sas fan. I bought one of his books by chance and really took to his obvious enjoyment of making them. I am slowly collecting more - not easy in the UK for obvious reasons. If you have any more biographical detail I would love to hear it.

  3. I don't have any more biographical information about George Sas -- I certainly wish I did. All I know about him is that he corresponded with my father for a short time. He was an amazingly talented printer.