An occasional newsletter
News on progress on forthcoming books from the Press
Hinton Charterhouse, Bath, UK

June 2002

recent progress on
Jump of the Manta Ray

A poem in Spanish by Carmen Boullosa, translated by Psiche Hughes, with images by Philip Hughes

expected to be published in September 2002

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Inspired by the sight of a giant manta ray leaving the water, Carmen Boullosa has written an epic and erotic poem for which Psiche Hughes has prepared an English translation. The two texts will run in parallel through the book, interspersed with about 30 small images by Philip Hughes, and the book will be accompanied by 21 full size giclée prints.

This title is leading the pack for 2002. The text is finalised and design mostly complete. We have had proofs from the giclée printers and the results are stunning: Hughes's 21 large images getting all the punch they deserve on the 280gsm Somerset Velvet papers that we shall be using. Nineteen of these images will come on separate sheets, signed and numbered, the other two providing frontis- and tail-piece for the book. The text will be on a more manageable 175gsm Somerset Book paper, and will make a handsome book of about 340mm (13.4 inches) high and 300mm (11.8 inches) wide. The design of the binding and the box that will contain it and the prints is still to be finalised. We plan to be putting sheets through the press in July-August.

An unusual feature of the book is that we shall be printing the text - letterpress of course - in Octavian, a strong typeface, which Monotype only ever offered in 14pt. The type will be machine-cast from digital copy by Harry McIntosh, who has done the casting for a number of our previous books, using the only diecase for the face that we know of, belonging to Sebastian Carter, whose father designed Octavian for Monotype. (In fact, according to Monotype's records only three sets of matrices were ever sold - a terrible mis-judgment by the printing industry if ever there was one! The face is now available in digital format and it must be hoped that it receives the use it deserves.) One excitement has been caused by the fact that the diecase proved to have no accented characters, and yet of course they are needed in the Spanish text. Moreover Monotype Hot-Metal no longer had matrices for those accented characters, so we have had to commission them to cut new punches using the Monotype Drawing Office copper masters and a pantograph punch engraving tool. Philip Hughes and I went to see the punch for the italic e-acute being machined - a rare event and one we plan to have photographs of on our website at a future date.

In December 2002, I shall be giving a lecture to the Designer Bookbinders society in London and I plan to talk about the making of Jump of the Manta Ray. As work on the book progresses I am recording progress with photographs in order to bring things to life at the lecture.

We are certain this will be a stunning book but it will also be our most expensive ever: the price is still to be determined but is likely to be around £1,500 (US$2,500, Eur2,500). The edition will be no more than 50 copies.

recent progress on
Stanley Morison & John Fell

The writing and printing of Stanley Morison's book John Fell, the University Press and the 'Fell' Types

expected to be published late 2002

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Stanley Morison's great work John Fell, the University Press and the 'Fell' Types was possibly one of the finest letterpress books from Oxford University Press in the twentieth century. It was intended to provide a 'scientific' account of the origin of the many types (in the form of punches and matrices) that Bishop John Fell bequeathed to the University Press that he helped to found in the 1600s. Those materials remain intact to this day.

The text of this fascinating story is nearing completion. I still have one more visit to make to the Stanley Morison archive at Cambridge University Library, but the bulk of the story is now complete and I have a 120pp draft on my PC (already twice the extent I had planned!). With some trepidation I recently sent the draft to John Simmons, now at All Souls, Oxford, who from 1953 to 1967 collaborated with Morison on research for the book. Simmons was responsible for the coverage of the 'exotic' types in the Fell collection, and for several of the appendices to the book. Having someone so closely related to the actual events to look it over was daunting (if essential), but I was delighted that he considered it 'worthy of all the prizes going'. It spurs me on in the hope that others will find the story as intriguing as I do.

Although Jump of the Manta Ray is taking precedence in the queue, work on Stanley Morison and 'John Fell' moves rapidly ahead and design of the printed page has begun. My plan is to do the entire book in 14pt Monotype Van Dijck and Bob Elliott (who did such an excellent design for The Fell Revival) is advising me on it. As far as is sensible, this book (and the one we are also doing on Harry Carter) will be uniform in size and paper with The Fell Revival.

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2002.