An occasional newsletter

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

 February 2005

recent progress on

The Bricks of Venice

A new study of the brickwork of Venice with sixty-six watercolours, by Peter Harris.

Published on 16 February 2005

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This title is finally ready and all is set for a launch of the book on 16 February. An exhibition of Peter Harris's watercolours, sixty-six of which appear in the book, is being held at the Arts Club in London with a party on the first night at which the first copies of the book will be on display. This is a private club so unfortunately the show will not be open to the public but we hope to have other venues in the future.

The printing of the text went without incident, just days of winding. With 96pp being printed four at a time, I had 24 runs to do in black, with a further twelve for the second colour used on the title page and for chapter headings. On a good day I could do two runs. The title page took a couple of days on its own, in design and experimentation on the press. Once that was done I took the opportunity to visit Brian Settle at The Fine Bindery who is binding the edition. I wanted simply to talk through the possible ways of presenting the 96pp of text and the seventy-two illustrations on their separate (A4) sheets. I came away with a mental picture of the book bound separately and a solander (drop-over) box for the illustrations, the two being presented in a slip-case. All sorts of small detail still needed working through - head- and tail-band colours, the ribbon for the solander box, precise measurements and trimmed sizes, etc - but at least the basics were now in place.

At the start of December just past, we made a four-day trip to Venice to visit, in particular, Alberto Valese who still hand-blocks paper with traditional Venetian patterns as well as being a fine marbler. I used one of his patterned papers on the cover of Venice Visited and had already decided which of his other patterns I wanted to use on the boards of the book in The Bricks of Venice: an architectural design based on the facade of the Ca' d'Oro palace on the Grand Canal. I also planned to use another paper, though I was not sure which, on the outside of the solander box which would hold the seventy-two illustrations and their index sheets. We met at his shop and were able to discuss precise colour for the Ca' d'Oro pattern: not too red and not too brown, and sort-of-brick coloured! For the second paper I chose a tile pattern in a light-grey and left an order for eighty sheets of each. A month later the sheets were here in Hinton Charterhouse and the book was really starting to take shape.

Having established last year that I had the necessary technology to produce excellent reproductions of the water-colours using archival quality ink-jet, I started work on the final adjustments for printing those. I ordered a thousand sheets of the special 100% cotton Somerset paper designed for the purpose and set to and printed the first full set of seventy-two illustrations. Peter Harris had prepared a paragraph or two on each, separately from his main text, so I decided to print these on index sheets on a snuff-brown Fabriano Ingres paper, one per chapter, which will interleave the illustrations. Each illustration is numbered and is referred to by that number in the main text.

Now that I had the contents of the solander box, we knew how deep it would need to be, and with the arrival of the Venetian paper, everything was in place to take the materials for the first fifty copies to Brian in mid-January - a month to go before the publication date. By the end of the month I received a dummy of the binding - the final chance to check details.

What was there still left to do? Spine labels. I hate printing spine labels. Now that I knew the dimensions of the spine of the book and of the outer slipcase I could set the type and print them. It was also time to start printing more sets of the illustrations - and I must soon order a lot more of the archival ink-jet ink!

Don't forget that at my website, you can view a picture diary for the book, and of course a number of views of the various parts of the work. When you get there, click on 'in print', then on 'The Bricks of Venice', and then on 'see more' for pictures of the book and on 'the story' for the story in pictures of its production.

Price at publication is £220 (US$390, Euro330). Shipping will as usual be added at cost. I shall be sending out a prospectus to my mailing list in few weeks' time. If I have your postal address I shall send you a copy.

recent progress on

Harry Carter, Typographer

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

Being published 26 April 2005

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I last reported on progress with this book back in August. Most of my efforts have been on The Bricks of Venice, but with that title almost complete I can now turn to this other major project.

The Mohawk paper for the book arrived from the US, ready guillotined, and is now waiting in a large pile looming next to the press.

The de luxe copies have also now been finalised. The original thought was to follow the model of The Fell Revival and Stanley Morison & 'John Fell, and to have a portfolio of small items relevant to the subject. But during his research at Oxford University Press, Martyn Thomas came across the typescripts for a number of sections of the planned second volume of Carter's history of the Press. These were clearly early drafts on particular topics, and it seemed a good opportunity of bringing some of them to light. In the event we have chosen two to go into an extra volume to accompany the book.

The first of these, ‘Bradley’s Observations’, describes (to use Carter’s words) ‘the worst dereliction of duty in the history of the Press’. When Astronomer Royal James Bradley died in 1762, his papers were extremely valuable, not least because they could be the key to winning the Longitude Act top prize of £20,000, an enormous sum in the eighteenth century. The possessor of these papers could therefore expect both wealth and fame, and ownership rested either with the Crown (as Bradley was Astronomer Royal), with his daughter (as his heir), or with Oxford University (as Bradley’s employer). This is the point at which Carter takes up the story of how twenty-six years were to pass before just two-thirds of Bradley's work had been printed.

The second draft that we are publishing, ‘Thomas Bensley as a Partner’, tells the story of Thomas Bensley, a tale of fraud and deception in the eighteenth century around the University’s privilege to print Bibles.

In addition to these two delightful pieces of Carter's writing, the extra volume will contain an essay written by Carter when he was nearly thirty years old: ‘Baskerville’s Influence’. A draft of this was sent to Jan van Krimpen in August 1932 for inclusion in the first issue of a proposed successor to The Fleuron, which had ceased publication following its seventh volume, in November 1930. Unfortunately, the worsening economy in Europe caused Enschedé to have second thoughts and to withdraw their support; neither The New Fleuron nor Carter's article were ever published. This will therefore be its first publication.

With everything ready to roll - design, paper, text, etc - we have been able to fix a publication date at last: 26 April 2005. There will be two 'launches', so to speak, one in London at the St Bride Printing Library and one in Oxford at Oxford University Press, under the auspices of the Oxford Guild of Printers.

One other element in the planning for the de luxe copies has been the marbled paper for the binding. The de luxe copies of The Fell Revival and Stanley Morison & 'John Fell' were quarter bound in leather with paper marbled by Ann Muir on the boards. The two papers had the same colours but different marbling styles, and I decided to keep the design going by asking Ann to use the same three colours but this time in a tight and restrained Cockerell style, perhaps echoing Carter's own character. Sixty sheets of that paper now wait for use. With The Bricks of Venice behind us, work can start on Harry Carter, Typographer.


Oxford Fine Press Book Fair



Fine Press blog

Just check once more that you have the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair in your diary: 5-6th November 2005. For more details visit the FPBA website.

John Russell is running a blog on fine presses, and thereby offering us all another great way of keeping up with some of the things that go on in the world of contemporary private presses, in particular John's take on things: why not pay it a visit?


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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2005.