An occasional newsletter

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

 November 2005

a new title

Three Pieces

Three hitherto unpublished essays by Harry Carter

Just recently in print

The fifty de luxe copies of Harry Carter, Typographer sold out before publication, in fact before we had printed the second volume that accompanies the main text. With the type standing, we therefore decided to run a further eighty copies and it is fifty of these that we now offer for sale (though without the two extra items in the de luxe copies).

During their researches on Harry Carter's life and work, the authors of Harry Carter, Typographer came across about 150pp of typescript material that he had drafted towards a second volume of his history of Oxford University Press. Unfortunately, that volume was never to see the light of day, but we have taken the opportunity to publish two of the essays in that typescript. The first, Bradley’s Observations, describes (in Carter’s words) ‘the worst dereliction of duty in the history of the Press’ and is fascinatingly tied up with the £20,000 prize offered under the Longitude Act of 1714 for an accurate way of determining longitude. The second, Thomas Bensley as a Partner, is a tale of fraud and deception at the Press.

In August 1932, Carter sent an essay on the influence of John Baskerville on type design to Jan van Krimpen for inclusion in the first issue of a proposed successor to The Fleuron, but that also never came to fruition. Carter's essay on this most influential of English type designers - whose tercentenary is in 2006 - makes up the third item in this volume of his work.

The text is printed in 12D/15 Romulus on an antique hand-made Van Gelder paper that I 'rescued' some years ago by purchasing it from the monastery where it had lain for perhaps fifty years in their long-defunct print-shop. (Generally it is in excellent condition but some copies have the odd worm hole or slight water stain on a corner as evidence of its antiquity!) The volume is case-bound in green cloth with a label on the front-board. The title page carries a photograph of Carter. 28pp.

Copies are available for £35 (E65, US$70) Eighty copies (of which about fifty are for sale). Subscribers will shortly receive a copy with the compliments of the Press.

recent progress on

Henry James Sat Here


Nine poems by Anne Coon with images by Kurt Feuerherm



Publication planned for May 2006

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

With the work on Harry Carter complete, we are moving on to something very different: Henry James Sat Here, a set of nine poems by Anne Coon with striking images by Kurt Feuerherm. Before we went to the Oak Knoll Book Fest in October, I was able to set the type and prepare a mock-up of the book, at least as far as its basic shape as an accordion-style book is concerned. Even just standing on the shelf behind our stand at Oak Knoll, the book received a lot of interest.

The book takes its title from one of the poems in the set. Opposite the facade of the Duomo in Siena, is the wall of the one-time hospital, now a museum, and along that wall runs a stone bench. Speaking of Henry James, the poem describes how
    'He writes of the narrow bench
    that follows the wall
    around the hospital’s girth.
    Starkly uncomfortable in a town
    where sculptors knew their craft.
    Angled in such a way as to
    keep visitors moving along.'

As luck would have it, a week after returning from the Oak Knoll Book Fest, we went on a walking holiday in Tuscany, in particular walking from Volterra to Siena via San Gimignano, so I had the pleasure/discomfort of sitting on that very bench myself when we arrived, leg weary, in Siena.

I had hoped to find some interesting papers in Siena to use in the binding of the book, but despite visiting about half-a-dozen likely shops I came away empty-handed having only found some marbled papers that would not have worked at all with the book overall. That said, I did meet one of Siena's jobbing printers, Signor Mario Nannini and his son at La Stamperia, and had the chance to exercise my rough and ready Italian whilst looking around his workshop. Unusually, their speciality is marbling onto leather. While we were talking, another retired printer came in and I ended up leaving with a gift and a purchase and a happy memory.

Working on a book like this is completely different from, say, Harry Carter, Typographer, in that the type plays a far smaller role in the overall production: the nine poems took me less than a day to hand-set in the 14pt Octavian, whereas the text of the Carter book required weeks of keying and casting and a huge amount of handling; Henry James Sat Here occupies two galleys, whilst Harry Carter filled an entire galley rack of 75 galleys. Harry Carter was a conventional binding of a lot of text; Henry James will be an unusual binding of a small amount of text and nine images. (I've started discussions with a designer binder and hope to be able to say more about that aspect in the next newsletter.) The images - in watercolour, collage, and ink - were digitally scanned for me and have needed just a little tidying up at the edges (under the artist's supervision), followed by some scaling and positioning on the sheets of Somerset watercolour paper - you can get an impression of them at my website.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in the title, do let us know - the edition will be of only ninety-five copies and only sixty of those will be for sale.


a note about

The Bricks of Venice


. . . wins an award at Oxford



In print

We were delighted when The Bricks of Venice won one of the five Judges' Choice Awards at the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair at the beginning of the month. The whole weekend was as ever a great event - you can find a report of it at the FPBA website.


a thought about

Solving the present problem


It's time to give books!



Fine printing - or studio printing, or private press printing, or whatever we might prefer to call it - always seems to fall between the cracks when it comes to visibility with the general public.

I was once told by the manager of a local 'craft shop' that she wouldn't take books to sell because her customers wouldn't expect to find books there - this seemed to me a perfect reason in favour of taking books, but it appeared to be a convincing reason not to. The shop concerned (since closed) stocked batik scarves, and pieces of driftwood made into amusing mobiles, and baskets, and pots. All good 'craft' fare. But I was forced to ask just how many batik scarves or driftwood mobiles, say, one could own. Whereas, of course, one can never have too many books, they require very little space, and they provide a lifetime of enjoyment.

The other wonderful thing about a well-made book as a gift it that it is such a delightful surprise to the recipient: 'I would never have guessed that people are still making books like this' - I'm sure I'm not the only printer to have heard that from a friend or acquaintance handling a nicely made book for the first time. So let me encourage you to think of giving private press books this Christmas, if not from The Old School Press then from one of the many other presses working away around the world.

If you visit our website you'll find poems by Liverpool poet Adrian Henri with his own pastel images, a delightful Victorian travel diary with watercolours, poetry by the Poet Laureate with fine wood-engravings by Simon Brett, and a sumptuous illustrated book on Venetian brickwork. Amaze someone this Christmas!

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2005.