An occasional newsletter

Hinton Charterhouse, Bath, UK

 December 2006


A brief newsletter before the year ends with a couple of quick items.


The Fine Press Book Association

If you're not a member, you really should be!

The Fine Press Book Association is in its tenth year and has just published issue 12 of its journal Parenthesis.

If you aren't a member of the FPBA I really would urge you to join. You will receive two issues of the journal for your subscription. It runs to 64pp (though exceptionally number 12 is 72pp) and is in full colour throughout. We have it produced to the finest standards at J W Northend, and over the years it has proved to be not only a stayer but also a collector's piece. It makes a fine record of the past, the present, and the future of the fine press world. It's packed with illustrations, reviews, articles, features, even obituaries sadly, but no sudoku puzzles, mercifully. All the great names appear, as well as rising stars and some of the lesser known.

I won't fill this newsletter with any more detail - you can get all the basics at, not least a membership application form for downloading.


progress on
Oxford's Ornaments

A survey and display of the typographical ornaments at Oxford University Press

May 2007?

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

Finally the text has been finished and the copy has gone off to Stan Lane at Gloucester Typesetting for conversion to many galleys of 13pt Van Dijck.

As I noted in my earlier newsletter, this exercise has proved more complicated than it at first appeared. In particular, I have been trying to unravel the connection between the extant type (which I shall be printing from) and the matrices still in OUP's possession and their relationship to the originals from John Fell's time. I'm still not certain I have completely sorted it, having been thrown off course in a couple of places by Stanley Morison who wasn't always a paradigm of accuracy.

I have found myself spending days in the Bodleian Library at Oxford trying to get to the bottom of some of the questions posed by the materials. Since the ornaments largely date from the early days of the Press I needed to go back to the original Specimens that the Press issued between 1693 and 1794 to examine exactly what the ornaments looked like then - not all the extant matrices are original so it raises the question of what they were modelled on. Once again I was beset with more questions than answers when I discovered that some ornaments changed from one Specimen to the next!

I have also had a couple of visits to the archives at OUP, in particular to take some photographs of some of the original materials for reproduction in the book. The ancient matrices (dating back in many cases to the seventeenth century) rest in the safe at the Press and it has been a pleasure to go through them all, checking them against the various lists and catalogues. Anyway, it seemed appropriate to give others a chance to see what they look like when you open the safe.

While the text is away for typesetting I shall be getting on with the hand-setting of the various arrangements of the ornaments which will be part of the attraction of the book. The compositors at Oxford University Press put together pattern books in the early part of the twentieth century, particularly under Horace Hart's Controllership, and I shall be using those as the basis for the samples. I mentioned this to one customer who immediately urged me to try my hand at creating my own arrangements, so I guess I shall take on that challenge and see what results.

I should remind everyone that this book will be a limited edition in the Monty Python sense: 'strictly limited to the number we can actually sell.' I shall be sending out a prospectus in the New Year to my mailing list. If you have already reserved a copy, that will be the moment to confirm that reservation. If you make a firm order then, you will receive an ad personam copy. There will be a few copies over, just in case. At the moment about seventy copies are spoken for. So I would guess that the total edition will be a few more than that, depending on latecomers.


a note about

where The Old School Press will appear

Exhibition at Palazzo delle Prigioni, Venice, Italy
10-28 January 2007


CODEX Foundation Book Fair & Symposium
Berkeley, California, USA
13-15 February 2007


Fine Press Book Exhibition
Chapel Row Gallery, Bath, UK
3-20 March 2007


Contemporary Craft Fair
Bovey Tracey, UK
8-10 June 2007


Oxford Fine Press Book Fair
Oxford, UK
3-4 November 2007


From the 10th to the 28th of January 2007, there will be an exhibition of the original watercolours from The Bricks of Venice at the Palazzo delle Prigioni in Venice, a public gallery adjacent to the Bridge of Sighs. Entrance is free. We shall be there for the opening.

The newly-formed CODEX Foundation is holding an ambitious Book Fair and Symposium in Berkeley, California in February 2007 and we shall be making the trip. For more details visit their website.

From the 3rd to the 20th March 2007, there will be an exhibition of fine press books at Chapel Row Gallery, on Chapel Row, Queens Square, Bath. The FPBA is helping to organise the work of about 20-25 presses for this exhibition which is timed to overlap the Bath Literary Festival.

We exhibited at this very high quality craft fair for the first time last year. We had a great time and made some new friends and customers. We shall be there again in 2007 - it makes an excellent day out - do think about coming along!

It might feel a long way off, but now's the time to get the 2007 Oxford Fine Press Book Fair into your new diary - be sure not to arrange anything else that weekend!



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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2006.