An occasional newsletter

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

February 2008


progress on
Palladio's Homes

Andrea Palladio on the perfect house - and what visitors have thought of his designs


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The last few months - and last week in particular - have seen considerable progress on this title.

Andrea Palladio left not only a legacy of fine buildings, but also a detailed exposition of his ideas in his I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura ('The Four Books of Architecture'), first published in 1570. He prefaced his descriptions of his villa designs in I Quattro Libri with chapters laying out his general principles for the placing and design of villas. Palladio's Homes will reprint those chapters in his original Italian together with a parallel translation by the eighteenth-century English architect Isaac Ware and observations made by visitors.

In my newsletter back in September last year I hinted that an agreement was in the offing with an Italian artist to do the illustrations. I'm delighted to say that signor Carlo Rapp has agreed to collaborate on the book. He has the perfect graphical style and was first introduced to me by Alessandro Zanella at the Ampersand Press near Verona (see below). Signor Rapp speaks little English and my Italian is pretty thin, but a face-to-face meeting was the only realistic way of seeing whether we could jointly visualise a book, so I threw caution to the winds and flew to meet him in Milan. Now in his seventies he proved a delightful new friend and we sat on a sofa in the breakfast room of my rather modest hotel, me burbling in broken Italian, he speaking slowly enough for me to catch the majority of what he said. We had both taken dictionaries and found ourselves resorting to them on several occasions to ensure we understood each other. It was exhausting. But the upshot was that he will be visiting seven or eight of the villas concerned, with the texts, and making his preparatory sketches, then returning to his studio in the foothills of the Alps to work up illustrations that can be letterpress printed.

The first part of our discussion was taken up with the different possibilities for combining coloured illustrations with letterpress. One thought of mine had been to use the archival inkjet process that has proved so successful for example with  Henry James Sat Here, but I also wanted to print the text on hand-made Amalfi paper which is really quite different from the Somerset and Hahnemühle papers that would take inkjet without the complex business of profiling a different stock. Signor Rapp rightly did not feel comfortable about mixing two papers in the one book, and we slowly converged on using just the Amalfi hand-made and printing his line and colour illustrations using letterpress. He will specify the colours he wants using Pantone numbers and I can then get the inks made and print from blocks made from his 'separations'. We also agreed that, whereas most books on Palladio's architecture concentrate on the architectural structure and symmetry and hence almost invariably have straight-on views of facades, this book is about the villas as places to live and work and this will steer his illustrations.

By lunchtime we were done and in the afternoon signor Rapp treated me to a tour of the centre of Milan including the spectacular trip onto the roof of the Duomo. By the time I arrived home that evening back in Hinton Charterhouse I was done in.

Pretty much all the text is ready though I still have some research to do, collecting the comments of those who subsequently visited the villas. I have a list of books and documents to examine, probably at the Bodleian, which I plan to go through in March. I can then make the final decisions about the different measures (line lengths) of the various sections of text and get the typesetting underway, and make up my dummy of the book and estimate the paper required, ready for ordering from Amalfi. I already have enough information to make some first estimates of production costs which will in turn point to the price.

So, gradually everything is coming together: texts (Italian and English), paper (Amalfi), type (Dante), and illustrations. The binding is still a consideration. I suspect something simple here. But we do at least know that this will be a large book: 36cm tall by 26cm wide (about 14in. by 10in.) and currently running at about 100pp though this might fall a little. Lots of paper and white space. Yummy. As for edition size, perhaps 150. More anon.


a note about
Printing courses

being run by Alessandro Zanella near Verona, Italy


About this time three years ago I attended a printing course at the Ampersand Press of Alessandro Zanella near Verona. I had a great time, in particular pulling on the Stanhope that is used on the course. Alessandro is running courses this year on 23-25 May and 28-31 August, the latter covering wood-cutting and printing as well as typesetting and printing. If you would like the details please click here to send me an email and I will gladly forward the PDFs to you. Alessandro speaks very good English.


a note about

where The Old School Press has appeared or will be appearing

Modern Works on Paper
The Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington Gardens, London
31 January to 3 February 2008

Contemporary Craft Fair
Bovey Tracey, Devon
5-8 June 2008

Handmade 2008
The Assembly Rooms, Bath
20-22 June 2008

For the second year running the Modern Works on Paper fair included an artists' book show. Susan Allix, Altazimuth Press, Enitharmon Press, The Old School Press, The Old Stile Press, Parvenu Press, Spoon Print Press, and The Tern Press all exhibited over an exhausting five days. Some days ran to 11 hours and given that the book show was held in a very well lit but internal room it was especially exhausting. However, sales were excellent and we met a number of new buyers. The last four copies of Henry James Sat Here sold as did a number of copies of The Bricks of Venice and other titles.

As well as our third showing at the Contemporary Craft Fair in Bovey Tracey in June (organised by the Devon Guild of Craftsmen), we are now also booked for Handmade 2008 in Bath later that month. We will send out more details as the date approaches. Again our hope is to reach new audiences for the handmade book.

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2008