An occasional newsletter

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

December 2008


progress on
Palladio's Homes

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

early  2009

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Yes, I have had to accept that this book won't get finished this year, but now that machining has started I'm hopeful we shall have bound copies in early 2009.

Before the update on progress, here's a plug for a TV programme this coming Wednesday, 17 December: BBC 4 at 2100 - The Perfect House: The Life and Work of Palladio. If my hunch is right, one of the people appearing will be Witold Rybczynski, author of the book The Perfect House, which accompanied my wife and me when we toured Palladio's villas in the Veneto in 2006 and which I'm sure helped bring on Palladio's Homes as an idea for a book from The Old School Press. Indeed, Professor Rybczynski has contributed an essay on Palladio to our forthcoming Palladio's Homes; indeed, it is already printed . . . but I get ahead of myself.

I made two trips to Stan Lane at Gloucester Typesetting for the type. It fills a 75-galley rack once I have broken it down into the different pages. The 14pt Dante is in fact a Didot point size, so, as Stan cast it on a standard 14pt body, some letters overhang at the top or bottom very slightly, which makes inserting and removing leads a tad dangerous - one can all too easily lift out those overhanging letters when pulling out a lead. Up to this point I had still not decided how much to lead the type but now I had facing pages of Italian and English it was the time to try different leadings, print them up, and see how they looked. Interestingly - and annoyingly - the Italian and English looked quite different with the same leading. I knew there would be a difference in their appearance - Italian, like its forbear Latin, has fewer letters with descenders (p and q and the occasional g) compared to English (with g and y appearing quite often as well as p). The Italian looked just right with 3pt, whilst the English still looked a little cramped. On the other hand, the Italian looked too 'windy' at 4pt whilst the English looked fine. I tried having 3pt-leaded Italian facing 4pt-leaded English but that looked a mess. Finally a compromise was necessary: I decided in favour of the Italian and went for 3pt. This meant ordering a stack of 34em 3pt leads from Stan as well as the type.

I had ordered 3,500 sheets of a lovely, soft hand-made from Cartiera Amatruda, in Amalfi. Once it had arrived in the UK it took me another week to satisfy the bureaucracy before the shipper would deliver it, which included sending them proof that my bank had paid them and the supplier. I naively assumed they could check their bank accounts to see that I had paid by electronic funds transfer, but no. The paper has four deckle edges which makes registration impossible on a proof press which operates by gripping one edge. So I had to make two trips to a friendly guillotine owner to slice the entire shipment in half to give one edge for the grippers - that would at least guarantee good backing up, whilst still leaving some variation in side-to-sideness given that the deckle edge would still be used to bring the paper against the lateral guide on the cylinder (hope you're following this). Now I have 7,000 sheets of paper, each yielding four pages, and each of which must go through the press two, three, or four times for the texts, blocks, and lino-cuts.

Towards the end of October the linocuts and line drawings arrived from Signor Rapp, and suddenly things were starting to take shape, though a number of technical problems arrived with them - more of these in the next newsletter. He has illustrated seven of the villas, each with a large line drawing which I shall reproduce with a line block and a linocut providing a colour mass. He has specified the colours to be used as Pantone colours so that I can get the inks made up. And I have an extra illustration which I think will work perfectly on the title page.

Now that I had his splendid illustrations I could think about the final structure of the book. As it turned out all of his illustrations except two span the two-page opening devoted to each villa, which means that I must ensure that each such opening is on a single sheet of paper. Suddenly I seemed to have a lot of four-page sections - in fact fourteen in a row - and I would really like to avoid having sewing thread running down the middle and over the illustration. Time to get up to Ludlow Bookbinders and talk to Brian Settle about how the binding could be done. The suggestion was that simply gluing these sections together would suffice, whilst normal sewn 16pp-sections would be used for the preceding and later material - it is just this middle part that needs different treatment. I wasn't convinced - but then I'm not a binder, so two weeks later I received a dummy from Brian with the book made just that way and solving the problem neatly. Now that I knew the bound structure of the book I could finalise the pagination and make my own paste-up which has that structure and into whose pages I could paste the appropriate parts of the galley proofs that came with the type. This tells me what text/line block/linocut goes on which side of which of the 7,000 sheets now piled in the press, and using it I can draw up a schedule of what openings will be printed when. In all I have 81 separate print-runs of between 180 and 200 sheets each to get through. :-(

A final decision must be made before machining can begin: the edition size. I am aiming for 160, of which I will keep a small number of sets of sheets for binders, perhaps just ten.

So there we have it. As of this moment I'm just coming up to half way through those 81 print-runs, generally managing three a day, each of up to 200 sheets. I don't want to rush things but it would be good to be able to take at least a display copy to the Modern Works on Paper fair at the start of February (see below) . . .


a note about forthcoming

at some of which The Old School Press will be appearing

Modern Works on Paper: 4-8 February 2009

Oxford Fine Press Book Fair: 7-8 November 2009

CODEX: 8-11 February 2009

Modern Works on Paper has a new venue in 2009: The Flower Cellars, Covent Garden, London. Eight presses will be showing and we shall be there - more details at the 'Covered!' section of

Now that you have your 2009 diary, make sure to put the biennial Oxford Fine Press Book Fair in: the first weekend in November as usual, and in its now-customary location at Oxford Brookes University. The usual unmissable mix of presses, specialist dealers, talks, and demonstrations!

The second biennial CODEX Book Fair and Symposium is being held on the University of California, Berkeley campus in February 2009 - we won't be there this time, but it is a great show and if you're in the area . . . details at


a note about
some items for sale

surplus to my requirements


36pt Times Titling

I have a complete run of the Society of Wood Engravers' newsletter Multiples which I would like to sell. Some of the earlier issues are photocopies. All in VG condition. They occupy the same space as about four reams of A4 and weigh as much. I'm open to offers. Details on request.

Barely used, a 4A fount of 36pt Times Bold titling with figs and points. 15. If you're interested, contact me and we can discuss getting it to you.


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Copyright Martyn Ould 2008