Artifex: Leonard Baskin and the Gehenna Press


The early years of Gehenna Press

Baskin & Hughes

An Architect of the Page

“Of the making of books…”




Honoring James Baldwin

The Oresteia



The early years of Gehenna Press

While studying at Yale University, Leonard Baskin acquired a great enthusiasm for the art of letterpress printing. His college maintained an old-fashioned printing shop, where he learned how to set and ink type by hand, and to work an antique Chandler <&> Price treadle press. He also spent many long hours exploring the vast collections of the Sterling Memorial Library. There, he happened across a line from Paradise Lost: “and Black Gehenna call’d, the type of hell.” The young artist seized upon the name Gehenna, Hebrew for Hell, for the private press he was beginning to imagine. Gehenna was in many ways a natural choice, as so many of the colloquial terms for printing made reference to devils, hell and “the black art.” He produced his first imprint at Yale, and continued to design and illustrate books for his Gehenna Press throughout his life.

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