An occasional newsletter

News on progress on forthcoming books and events.
Hinton Charterhouse, Bath, UK

September 2008


progress on
Palladio's Homes

Andrea Palladio on his houses - and what visitors have thought of them

late 2008

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The text is now finished, and I have finalised the design with Carlo Rapp. This is where the pace quickens as we aim to get the title published this year, the 500th anniversary of Palladio's birth.

One of the themes of the book is the comments about Palladio's villas that visitors have left behind in their diaries. At the time of my last e-newsletter there were two that I still had to chase: Richard Boyle, third earl of Burlington and Sir Charles Barry, travelling in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries respectively. Boyle ended up owning at least a dozen copies of different editions of Palladio's I Quattro Libri, and had one of them interleaved with blank sheets to allow him to add his own observations. That copy is now held in the library at Chatsworth (one of the grandest of great houses in England) so we made the trip to the Peak District to inspect it. It was wonderful to hold the 1601 edition but disappointing to find that Boyle had made notes on but a handful of pages and on only two villas, but they have been transcribed and have found their place in the text. Mercifully his handwriting was entirely legible, in contrast to the dreadful (to modern eyes) scribbles that Inigo Jones made in his copy (now at Worcester College, Oxford).

Sir Charles Barry was an architect who travelled extensively, thanks to an inheritance, and he recorded his impressions in words and drawings in a series of notebooks now in the library of the RIBA. One of these covers a number of villas around Vicenza and we spent a pleasant day transcribing his observations at the Victoria & Albert museum in London where the notebooks are kept. Barry could be very snooty about details of Palladio's designs - 'The flanking arches of Porticoes are both unnecessary and very unsightly' - as was fashionable amongst the young turk architects of his time, but his comments on half a dozen of the villas now feature along with those of others such as Goethe and Coryat.

With these items wrapped up, the time came for final proof-reading (in particular against Palladio's Italian text) and getting the text ready to go to Stan Lane at Gloucester Typesetting. It's a moment I tend to hesitate over as it means finalising so many irrevocable decisions: typeface, size, measure, etc. But finally one has to say 'that's it'.

Given that things were coming to an important milestone I decided it was time to meet Signor Carlo Rapp who is preparing the illustrations - another overnight visit to Milan and a sore trial of my Italian. It's all very well being able to order a meal in a restaurant in Italian, but discussing the aesthetics of a book is another matter altogether. He is illustrating seven of the villas and is visiting them probably as I type. His images will be pen and ink drawings with areas of colour. For the drawings I can have line blocks made and print from them. The coloured areas will also require line-blocks and will be printed with the ink colour that Signor Rapp specifies, using the Pantone system. I'm very much looking forward to laying out the double-page spreads for the individual villas. For the six that Signor Rapp is not illustrating I shall be underprinting the text with Palladio's ground-plans for the villa concerned.

More news anon.


a new title
The Daniel Press in Frome

relating the early days of the first private press

by David Chambers
 and Martyn Ould


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Falconer Madan, one-time Bodley's Librarian, wrote the definitive bibliography of the Daniel Press, and had it printed on Daniel's own Albion and published in 1921, and one might reckon that little more was to be said on the topic. We hope to prove this untrue.

The books that Daniel printed and published from Worcester College in Oxford are relatively well known and by and large still to be had. Reproductions of pages from those fifty or so titles are also frequently seen. But in his bibliography, Madan also covers the less known output of Charles Henry Olive Daniel and his family from their home in Frome, Somerset. This domestic press dates from  Henry's early years. But it was picked up by two of his brothers, William and Eustace, while he was away at school and later studying in London and then Oxford. After Henry had left home and established himself, and his press, at Worcester College, Oxford, the brothers and their father continued printing small items, in particular for the church at which Daniel's father was vicar (a post Eustace was later to take over). These were clearly juvenile and rather amateur works, including nine items that Madan refers to as 'books' and also hundreds of other items that are classed under the heading of 'Frome minor pieces' (of which some are but 'minima'). In contrast to the Oxford books, these are as good as unknown and almost never seen.

Our new title will, we hope, redress the balance and provide some insights not only into  the early work of a formative private press but also the role of an amateur press in its social setting. Henry's father was vicar of Holy Trinity, Frome and their home was the Georgian vicarage next door, a fine house now a private residence. Daniel and his brothers and father printed a large number of items for the church's daily affairs as well as items for more general consumption including bookplates for over fifty family members and friends. David Chambers and I have now tracked down, examined, and catalogued seven substantial collections of the Frome output, and, taken together, they are providing us with insights into 'The Daniel Press in Frome'. (We would still like to encourage anyone with any Frome material to contact us.)

It is perhaps too early to say much about the form of the book, but early thoughts are to have it match in size our earlier titles on printing history, i.e. a demy quarto page. Caslon feels an obvious choice for the typeface and I have further stocks of a nice antique Rives paper for which this title might be appropriate. We shall see.

Publication will be in 2009 (probably) and in an edition suited to this small nook of printing history - perhaps 150 copies. Early expressions of interest will be warmly received and encourage the authors.

a note about
Ann Muir

who died recently


Many will know the name of Ann Muir whose marbled papers have given pleasure for many years; and many will know that she died on 21 July.

Ann's workshop (which continues her work) is about twenty minutes from the Old School Press, so it was always a pleasure to visit her, not least when we had a project needing some of her work. I decided that my very first publication, Venice Approached, would have a small number of copies in a special binding and I approached her for a paper with a 'watery' effect. The 'Spanish' style, in which broad ripples cross the sheet with patterning on them, looked just right and she did a few sheets for me with green as the predominant colour. In subsequent years she prepared the papers for the de luxe editions of our series on or around Oxford University Press: The Fell Revival, Stanley Morison & 'John Fell', Harry Carter, Typographer, and Oxford's Ornaments. I chose one set of colours for the first, again in the Spanish style, and then, for each subsequent title, Ann used the same colours but in a different marbling style. They make a great set, so much so that I have put a page on my website showing them together (you can go directly to it from here).

Ann's studio was always a wonderful place to visit. The immediate area around the bath was hung with heavy plastic sheets that, over time, had come to resemble a cross between a dense Jackson Pollock and an explosion in a paint factory. Indeed, Ann herself might come to the door splattered liberally with whatever colours she happened to be using for that job, smiling through the self-administered pox. And, if schedules did not threaten, there was generally coffee to be had at the wooden table.


a note about
Items for sale

from my own collection

Monotype Newsletters

Whittington Press posters


I recently acquired a complete series of the Monotype Newsletter, rarely seen in comparison with the Monotype Recorder. Anyway, the ones I had already managed to get hold of here and there are now surplus to requirements and I am offering them at knock-down prices at my website. If you click here you will go straight to the page concerned.

I also acquired a collection of Whittington Press posters in order to fill out my own collection. The balance are for sale. They are generally not in great condition but if you want a copy just to hang in your print-shop these are ideal - and they are 'priced to sell'.

I also have a wood-engraving by John F Greenwood for sale.


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Copyright Martyn Ould 2008