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Archive of the Angelica and Amity Presses

Identifier: MSS 0447

Scope and Contents

The Archive of the Angelica and Amity Presses spans the dates 1967–1983, with the bulk of items spanning the dates 1974–1979. The archive includes published books, printing samples, production materials, artwork, printing plates, photographs, paper and cloth samples, correspondence, financial records, and ephemera related to the presses and its owners. The archive documents the products, operations, and distribution projects of the presses, as well as aspects of the personal relationship between Dennis and Marilyn Grastorf. Throughout the collection, most printed works have been removed for cataloging with the printed collections in the Special Collections Department.

The first two series in the archive contain works printed, designed, and illustrated by Dennis and Marilyn Grastorf. Included are extensive production materials for many of the books produced by the Angelica Press. There are two copies of their first book, Christmas at Bracebridge Hall, including one copy with an annotated dust jacket. The most complete example is the group of materials for A Voyage to Laputa illustrated by Warren Chappell, which includes correspondence, original illustrations, 56 copper and lead printing plates, a dummy copy, and the final work. There is also a copy of Wood Type of the Angelica Press, the press’s most significant publication. The archive also includes many printing samples from other Angelica Press projects. An early sample of Dennis’s work, William Dean Howell’s The Country Printer, is also included.

The financial records in the archive include a forty-page proposal for a business loan, prepared by Dennis Grastorf, including a history of the two presses and brief biographies of Dennis and Marilyn Grastorf (F36). The proposal details the current financial state of the two presses and describes what improvements would be made upon approval of the loan.

The Distribution and Fine Press Series contain files related to Dennis Grastorf’s interest and involvement with other fine presses in the United States and Britain. Among the presses represented in the archive that Dennis helped distribute are the Basilisk Press, the Circle Press, the Janus Press, the Oliphant Press, and the Whittington Press. Included are publications, printing samples, and correspondence. The archive also contains many fine press items, such as catalogues, artwork, and printing samples, that represent the work of other fine presses. The Spiral Press of New York City is especially well represented.

The Series of personal items includes photographs of the Grastorfs and correspondence between Dennis and Marilyn, including handmade and illustrated greeting cards.


  • Creation: 1967-1983
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1974-1979


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical and Historical Note

The Angelica Press was founded in Brooklyn, New York, in 1974 by Dennis and Marilyn Grastorf. The Grastorfs both graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Printing in 1969 and immediately began working in the printing trade. Dennis Grastorf was a third-generation New York printer. His maternal grandfather, L.L. Stillwell, served as editor- publisher of the Angelica Advocate and owned a print shop in Angelica, New York. Bill Grastorf, Dennis’s uncle, ran a printing business in Grandville, New York, and Dennis’s father and mother owned the Belmont Dispatch and a print shop in Belmont, New York. Dennis eventually bought his parents’ print shop, renaming it the Amity Press.

After graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology, Dennis worked in a number of commercial print shops in New York City, gaining experience in both fine letterpress printing and commercial offset printing. Marilyn Grastorf worked as a designer and an illustrator for various firms on the East Coast before teaming up with her husband to design and illustrate books. In 1974 the Grastorfs founded the Angelica Press in Brooklyn, where they set out to carry on the fine press traditions Dennis learned from his father and grandfather. The first book produced by the Angelica Press was Washington Irving’s Christmas at Bracebridge Hall (F3) illustrated by Marilyn Grastorf. The Grastorfs eventually moved their print shop to New York City, continuing to turn out fine press books until about 1980.

In 1975, after the death of Dennis’s father, the Grastorfs purchased the newspaper and print shop in Belmont, New York, renaming it the Amity Press. Dennis raised the standards of the Belmont press with the aim of making it one of the top commercial presses in the country. The Amity Press completed a series of projects for the Mysterious Press, which included The Adventures of Herlock Sholmes, (F9) designed by Dennis and printed in 1976.

Dennis Grastorf also used the Angelica Press to distribute other fine press books, including works by the Basilisk Press, the Circle Press, the Janus Press, the Oliphant Press, and the Whittington Press.

Biographical AND/OR historical information derived from the collection. See F36


3 linear foot (3 boxes)

1 oversize removal


The archive of the Angelica and Amity Presses documents the products, operations, and distribution projects of the presses, as well as aspects of the personal relationship between founders Dennis and Marilyn Grastorf.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 1995

Materials Cataloged Separately

Published works received with the collection have been removed and cataloged separately with imprints in Special Collections. They can be accessed by searching the library catalog.

Shelving Summary

Boxes 1-3: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons

Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (24 inches)

Processing Information

Processed by Gerald Cloud, July 2002. Encoded by Jaime Margalotti, July 2021.


Finding aid for Archive of the Angelica and Amity Presses
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2021 July 19
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA