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

June 2004

recent progress on

Harry Carter, Typographer

A tribute to an unsung English typographer, by Martyn Thomas, John A Lane, and Anne Rogers

Late 2004

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Along came 1 April and the chance to switch from a textbook that I have been writing (my other life) to the two big projects of 2004: this new and much-needed book on Harry Carter, and our exciting new title on Venetian brickwork (see below). I still had all the type - over sixty galleys - from Stanley Morison & 'John Fell' which I printed last year and it was time to start taking it back to Stan Lane at Gloucester Typesetting who will be setting and casting the type for Harry Carter, Typographer.

Carrying twenty galleys of type up to his workshop from the car was the most exercise I had had for a while and required a breather and mug of tea before returning home on the first of the three trips that I shall have to make to return all the metal. It was also chance to talk about the Carter book and its typesetting. I had been thinking about the typeface for some time, wanting something 20th century in feel and appropriate to Carter. I had first thought of Dante and was close to fixing on it when I saw the piece on John Dreyfus in Matrix 23 from John Randle. It was printed in Romulus and looked lovely. Romulus was originally designed for the Enschedé foundry by Jan van Krimpen and later released by Monotype. It has a sloped roman in place of a true italic, so its 'italics' are rather wide on the body but equally they stand out less than a true italic would. Carter knew Van Krimpen and I'm sure its clean lines would have appealed to Carter. My challenge is to get its qualities onto paper. Stan has now acquired a brand new Romulus diecase - the 15 by 17 set of individual matrices for the typeface - and this book will be the first casting from it. On my second trip with type metal I handed over the copy and went through it with him, discussing the finer points of layout.

Getting the text finalised has been another big challenge. The book is in two parts: the biography and the bibliography. The biography runs to about sixty pages of text, and copy-editing that has been a fairly standard affair. Several people including spouses have given it a going over. The question of when to capitalise 'van/Van' in Dutch names has been a sticking point: authoritative Dutch sources contradict the Oxford Guide to Style which has otherwise been our bible! The bibliography runs to around 200 entries. John Lane collected all the original material, and Anne Rogers and Martyn Thomas have scrupulously checked and painstakingly organised it. John did not restrict himself to Carter's many writings but also collated reviews of Carter's work, and all these reviews appear against the works concerned. Getting the 30pp of the bibliography ready for typesetting has been 'interesting' as we have faced up to all the usual questions of how best to present information which can be looked at from so many different angles. Our solution has included an extensive Index which provides several routes to finding particular works in the bibliography.

We have collected a dozen photographs covering Carter's life, a number having been kindly loaned by the Carter family for the purpose, and others from Oxford University Press of course - Carter's last job was as Archivist at the Press, a role specially created for him in order to have him on board to help Stanley Morison on his great book on John Fell and his types. These have all gone to the Cloister Press near Cambridge for scanning prior to having them separately printed as we did with the photos in Stanley Morison & 'John Fell'. I lay out the photos on a single B2 sheet and then have about 300 of these printed and cut down to yield the tip-ins. (Something apparently as simple as this still has its pitfalls: whichever way the photos are tipped into the book, the grain of the paper they are printed on must go in the same direction as the grain of the paper they are tipped onto, ie parallel to the spine of the book.) Carter also designed some type borders, a Curwen paper, and an 'emerald' type for printing Bibles - we hope to represent all of these in one form or another in the book, to demonstrate the breadth of Carter's output.

Our plans for the de luxe copies are also coming on well. The original thought was to have a portfolio of separate items in the same way that we did for The Fell Revival and Stanley Morison & 'John Fell'. But during their research, Martyn Thomas and Anne Rogers have come across a number of pieces of unpublished writing by Carter and this seems a good opportunity to publish them. So the de luxe copies will probably contain an extra case-bound volume with a selection of these pieces in them.

All in all the book is shaping up very well. When originally conceived it was expected to run to about 60pp, but, as is the way with these things, it now looks more like 120pp! As a result the price has also had to be raised by a third and at the moment our expectation is that standard copies will be around £80 (E135, US$160) and de luxe copies £160 (E270, US$300).

recent progress on

The Bricks of Venice

A new study of the brickwork of Venice with over seventy watercolours.

Late 2004

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The other big book in our current plans is Peter Harris's study of Venetian brickwork. When I was first sent his draft I was captivated by the watercolours - over seventy of them. His text is authoritative - he spent seven years in La Serenissima - and his images bring to life the qualities he describes in the fifteen chapters.

There is a real advantage to having two books on the go at any one time. One is often waiting for something to happen on a book - a paper order, typesetting, binding, review of drafts etc - and having another project to turn to at such times works well. On The Bricks of Venice I have so far been working on the text, finessing rather than editing. The next challenge - now that the copy for the Harry Carter book is with the typesetter - is to get into the technology of digital printing for the watercolours. When we had Philip Hughes's images for Jump of the Manta Ray printed we had them done on a state-of-the-art Iris printer, an expensive but possibly unsurpassed machine for quality and saturation of colour - Philip's images are very saturated,very intense. Watercolours require a different touch and technology has moved on. It is now a much more practical proposition to print such images on fine papers - the Somerset cotton papers used for Jump of the Manta Ray for instance - using archival inks, and all for a reasonable capital outlay. My computer facilities will be further complemented soon by a top-of-the-range Epson inkjet printer that uses seven cartridges to give the colour range one needs.

I can imagine that the use of these new technologies might feel like a betrayal to some. All of our text will continue to be printed letterpress, and with metal type, for its tactile qualities. But I have always enjoyed colour and think it a shame not to be able illustrate our books with watercolours, for example. My experience with Jump of the Manta Ray was that the combination of letterpress and digital image can produce striking results.


Payment by PayPal now accepted

Coming soon: online purchasing

Subscriber discounts to be increased

As a first step towards providing the facility to buy our books online from our website, we are now happy to accept payment by PayPal. Our customers in the UK may find it as easy to send us a cheque as always but we hope that customers outside the UK will be saved the nuisance of sending a cheque and instead be able to place an order via the form at our site and then pay by PayPal. If you are not familiar with PayPal why not visit

I have recently updated our website to give it (I think) a better feel. One of the developments planned for the near future is to allow online purchases using PayPal. Yes, you might soon be able to drag a virtual shopping cart/trolley around the site! I shall be announcing this in a future newsletter. I hope that customers outside the UK in particular will find this a much more convenient way of dealing with us, removing the need to send us cheques/checks and speeding things up considerably, whilst preserving everyone's financial security in the transaction.

For some years I have offered a discount to anyone (or any library) willing to take one copy of each book I do. It does help to know that there is a certain take-up that is guaranteed. I've decided to raise the discount to 15%. If you would like to take advantage of this please let me know. I generally aim to publish at least one and possibly two substantial books each year, with the occasional slighter title - such as the recent Fedor Tiutchev - dropped into the schedule as things permit. I also print the occasional booklet exclusively for Subscribers and friends of the Press. The most recent was an essay on the future of the book by controversial philosopher Ted Honderich. Future plans include a text on paper-making by hand.

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2004.