McCune Collection

The McCune Rare Book and Art Collection was a donation to the City of Vallejo by Dr. Donovan J. McCune (1902-1976), a physician at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Vallejo.  Doctor McCune loved books and the printing arts.  His hobby was studying the practice of printing through the years and he went out of his way to collect some of the most famous printers in history.  At his retirement, Kaiser gave him a small printing press as a gift, which he used and then later purchased a large Albion Press from England to work on larger projects.

The McCune Collection includes examples of printing from the 16th through the 21th century, an 1852 antique Albion printing press, a Linotype machine from the 1920s, and one of the largest collections of book binding tools west of the Mississippi. The McCune Collection highlights the history of printing in Europe and in the United States, and even contains a leaf from the 15th century Gutenberg Bible.  

The collection includes such famous printers and printing houses:

  • Jehan Petit
  • Jacobo Sachon
  • Seb
  • Gryphii
  • Christophorum Plantin
  • Petrum Santandreanum
  • House of Elzevir
  • Jacob Tonson
  • John Pine
  • Robert and Andrew Foulis
  • John Baskerville
  • Giambattista Bodoni at Dalla Reale Stamperia
  • Joaquin Ibarra at Royal Academy of Madrid
  • Barbou of Paris
  • William Pickering
  • William Morris of the Kelmscott Press
  • T.J. Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker of the Doves Press
  • Sir C. H. St. John Hornby of the Ashendene Press
  • Harold Taylor of the Golden Cockerel Press
  • Bruce Rogers and the Riverside Press
  • John Henry Nash
  • Nonesuch Press
  • The Grabhorn Press
  • Saul and Lillian Marks of the Plantin Press
  • Lewis and Dorothy Allen of the Allen Press
  • Printing by Benjamin Franklin

How is the McCune Collection different than other rare book collections? 

Most rare book collections are associated with universities and can be seen but not touched. Their purpose is to provide scholars a place to do research. Although the McCune Collection welcomes scholars and students to use the collection, it is also open to everyone with an interest in books. Patrons are encouraged to not only visit but to also physically handle the collection (clean hands please).

Another way the McCune Collection is different is that it is completely staffed by volunteers. There is no paid staff. All money received goes entirely to preserve and enhance the collection. Although donations are sincerely appreciated, there is never a charge to view the collection. In addition, the McCune also offers a series of free lectures in the spring and the fall. Typically, there have been three lectures in each series, which have encompassed California history and the art of the book (printing, binding, illustrating, layout, etc). The McCune will continue to offer these lectures in the foreseeable future.

View more information about the McCune Collection here. Visit the Facebook page here.