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

October 2003

don't miss

The Oxford Fine Press Book Fair

1-2 November 2003 at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England

details at

Every two years the PBFA and the FPBA hold the world's biggest fair of fine and private press books. Sixty presses from around the world, specialist dealers and suppliers, fill the halls at Oxford Brookes for two days - and there is real buzz! We have three books that have been done since the last fair in 2001: Stanley Morison & 'John Fell', Jump of the Manta Ray, and Fedor Tiutchev. The first two will be published at the Fair and orders are already at a healthy level. More details below.

recent progress on

Stanley Morison
& 'John Fell'

The story of the writing and printing of a masterpiece of printing in the 'Fell types' in the twentieth century: Stanley Morison's John Fell, the University Press and the 'Fell' Types published by Oxford University Press in 1967

to be published 1 November 2003

read the previous news item on this title
read the previous news item on this title

I won't say that getting this book ready for Oxford has been a mad scramble, ... but it almost has. The machining started in late August and took nearly two months. Exhausting - about 12,000 'pulls' - but as ever a pleasure to pull big sheets off the Western proof press - I can print four big pages at a time, which helps productivity. It took me three trips to Stan Lane at Gloucester Typesetting to collect the seventy-odd galleys of Van Dijck needed for the book - testing times for the car's suspension. All the galleys had to be untied and made up into the 144 pages of the book. Chapter opening pages and pages with tip-ins (photos and book leaves) all needed separate handling - I have a very large 'stone' which is a godsend, allowing me to keep figure captions, running heads, page numbers, etc all ready to hand. Most days I could do two runs of 250 sheets, each run yielding four pages (two openings).

Whilst the machining was in progress all sorts of other materials had to be assembled. In particular, I have twelve splendid photographs that are being tipped in. Eleven are excellent specially-taken shots from the archives of Oxford University Press, and they show all the major characters in the book. The twelfth photograph is a real delight and I am very pleased to be able to have it in the book. Reynolds and Janet Stone were frequently 'at home' to many intellectual figures in the middle of the last century and Janet Stone made a habit of photographing them (a collection of her photographs is available in Thinking Faces. Photographs 1953-1979, London: Chatto & Windus, 1988). The family albums contain wonderful shots of many great names ... often playing table tennis. Amongst them are a number of Stanley Morison, and the photograph that I am using with the kind permission of son Humphrey Stone shows Morison in a rarely captured mood: laughing! He had a sense of humour but the photographs I have seen of him almost invariably show him looking very serious.

All the photographs had first to be digitally scanned and then I resized and arranged the proofs on a single B2 sheet. I checked and double checked my calculations of size before signing off the proofs - one slip can be costly - and the Cloister Press in Cambridge has printed them. The photograph of Morison had to be scanned from a slightly damaged print, and I enlisted the help of a graphic artist friend who is a whizz with a digital airbrush to remove the blemishes before use. The book also has four leaves of books in Fell tipped-in, illustrating four of the commonly used book sizes: Long Primer, Small Pica, Pica, and English.

The standard edition of 170 copies is bound in a wine-red cloth and has a dust jacket in a brown Fabriano Ingres. As I type, Mark and Nancy Horne at Salisbury Bookbinders are working away to get copies ready for the Oxford Fair and to satisfy early orders. On the front of the jacket is a specially commissioned line drawing of Morison by John Watts. John has illustrated several of our books and has produced a fine image of Morison. We had a line-block made from John's original artwork and I have (today) printed this on the cover along with the gorgeous 36pt Van Dijck italic for the title. We have a number of customers who are binders that like to buy sets of sheets so I have also made these up. I generally make the price of sheets half the price of the main edition and put aside about 10% of the edition (just twenty copies in this case) as sheets.

There are also fifty de luxe copies, following the pattern and format of the well-received de luxe edition of The Fell Revival. In particular, the book is being quarter bound in a winde-red leather by the Fine Bindery. On the boards there will be another striking marbled paper by Ann Muir on the boards: Ann did a splendid paper for The Fell Revival in the Spanish style (waved and wide-combed), and for this book she has used the same colour combination but this time in a stone pattern. And there will of course be a portfolio of extra materials on and around the subject of the book including materials in Fell. As well as the extra materials and the de luxe binding I'm delighted to have these fifty copies signed by two of the major figures who worked with Morison on John Fell: Vivian Ridler, one-time Printer at Oxford University Press and the man who saw it finally through production, and John Simmons, along with Harry Carter one of Morison's two 'slaves' who assisted him with the research and the writing. Vivian has just celebrated his 90th birthday and John is well into his eighties, and having their signatures in the book is a real privilege.

Pricing can be found at our website.

recent progress on

Fedor Tiutchev

Fourteen poems by the Russian poet Fedor Tiutchev, translated by Avril Pyman, with engravings on vinyl by Kirill Sokolov.

to be published 1 November 2003

read the previous news item on this title
read the previous news item on this title

I have wanted to have this book ready for the Oxford Fair as well, but its completion has waited until I could finish the printing of the Stanley Morison book. So it is only now that I am finalising Fedor Tiutchev and sewing it.Some lovely green Fabriano Tiziano forms the covers, with one of Kirill's engravings on the front.

I'm very pleased with how it has turned out: when I talked to Kirill about the book it was clear we shared a liking for lots of white paper, so although the engravings are not large the pages are! A stab-sewn binding of sheets folded on the fore-edge give a nice effect and allows me to keep the price down.

There are just 100 copies with only sixty for sale.The price is £20 (US$40, Euro40).

our annual trip to

Oak Knoll Book Fest

North America's biggest fair of fine and private presses

This year's Oak Knoll Book Fest was the tenth and grandest - details can be found at In common with the other presses we find that our sales can vary considerably. A few weeks after 9/11 two years ago, having flown over on a near-empty AIr India flight, we wondered whether anyone would even turn up, but people came and bought - perhaps it was a case of retail therapy after the awful events. Last year was very disappointing and one tries to find clues in the American economy. This year was an excellent year. Our big book of 2002 - Jump of the Manta Ray - has sold well in North America, with the Library of Congress, several university libraries, and a number of private collectors buying copies.

That said, I suspect we go to Oak Knoll as much for the social side of the occasion as for the business side: a chance to see old friends and make new ones: collectors, other presses, dealers - it really is a delightful event in the most delightful of places: New Castle, Delaware, just down the road from Philadelphia. I always think that Americans are far too modest about their built heritage - they might not have a Stonehenge, but I would find it very hard to point to a town in England of the size of New Castle and of its age and in its condition. It really is a most delighful town of the 1700s and 1800s, and a marvellous venue for the weekend. This visit was short - really just a long weekend - but being there on the Friday we had the chance of visiting two of the historical buildings in New Castle: the delightful Amstel House and the grand Read House. We generally head home on the Monday night flight, so on the Monday we take the opportunity to visit some of the attractions in the area and this time went up to the Brandywine Valley Museum which hosts an extraordinary display of American art - something that we really never see in the UK, so it was quite an eye-opener.

As part of the celebration, many of the participating presses contributed to a portfolio of thirty-three broadsides displaying a broad range of design and printing methods. Each private press printer chose their own text and design scheme. The presses include Bird & Bull, Alembic, Barbarian, David Esslemont, Fleece, Gwasg Gregynog, Hill, Incline, Inky Parrot, Kat Ran, Abigail Rorer, Midnight Paper Sales, Ninja, Old School, Rampant Lions, Shanty Bay, Sherwin Beach, Tern, Warwick, Whittington, and Yellow Barn. It's a great demonstration of the variety of work offered by private presses!

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2003.