An occasional newsletter

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

October 2013


The Colours of Rome

Now available

In print

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I'm always staggered at how time flies and how books take so much longer than anticipated. Finally - though well in time for its first outing at the forthcoming Oxford Fine Press Book Fair (of which more below) - The Colours of Rome is now available. Yesterday I drove up to Ludlow Bookbinders and collected all the de luxe copes and nearly half of the standard edition - enough to fill the estate car! If you are on our postal mailing list you should have received a prospectus.

Having printed the main text I polished off all the ancillary matter: the captions on the 'paint-outs', the swatch cards, the labels for the pigment bottles in the de luxe copies, and the two spine labels, and then filled 225 bottles with carefully measured quantities of pigment. Although I have been slow to get this newsletter out, I have been updating the diary of the production of the book on our website: look for the 'the story' button against the entry for The Colours of Rome. You'll also find there half a dozen images of the book itself.

A book like this, with its many component parts, exists only in the mind's eye for a long time so it's always a pleasure when it starts to come together and the vision is realised. Seeing for the first time the colours that John chose as representative of those on the walls of Rome certainly made an impression on me: the image below shows (most of) the twenty large 'paint-outs' and the swatch card that appear in all copies:

And although I had seen some prototype bindings it's pleasing to finally see the full thing on the table: the next image shows a de luxe copy open to reveal the nine bottles of basic pigments from which the twenty representative colours are formulated:

There are 99 standard copies and 25 de luxe. The price per copy is 185 and 350 respectively. More details and more pictures can be found at our website!


progress on
Printing at the University Press, Oxford,

The first continuous narrative covering printing during this formative period in OUP's history

2014 onwards

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This title could set a record for The Old School Press in the way it has slipped its publication date. Earlier this year I managed finally to draw a line under the text for the first three volumes, and Stan Lane at Gloucester Typesetting has now started casting the type for it. I recently had proofs of the first forty pages - it's a real pleasure to start to see this taking shape. So it's time for a little catch-up on progress on what I hope and believe will be a landmark book for the Press.

Subtitled 'Premises, people, and paper', volume I looks at the history of the Press's buildings, how it organised itself, and the paper it used. These are three of the four major resources of the Press, the fourth being its type which will be covered in volume II. Volume III will tie all these together by describing in detail the processes employed in getting from the author's copy to printed sheets ready for sale.

Stan is typesetting the main text in 11pt Monotype Van Dijck and the footnotes (yes, there are plenty!) in 10pt. I expect to help him print it soon on a Mohawk paper using his Heidelberg.

Each standard edition copy will come in a dust wrapper with letterpress-printed title etc and a distinctive illustration, uniform in size with our previous books on Oxford University Press. I must have handled pretty much all the contemporary documents relating to the operation of the Press over the period and I have been keen to illustrate a representative selection in the four volumes. Volume I will therefore have photographs of ten contemporary items from the University accounts, the Press accounts, and correspondence in the Bodleian Library.

There will of course be a de luxe edition of each volume. These copies will be quarter-bound in leather with a marbled paper by Jemma Lewis on the boards, together with further material, all in a slip-case. In the case of volume I the extra material will be an additional volume which will publish for the first time the correspondence from the London paper wholesalers to the Press in the early 1670s, letters that are wonderfully revealing of both the scarcity of paper at the time thanks to wars in Europe and the relationship between the tradesmen and the dons. I have already printed this on some Rives BFK mould-made dating from the 1960s or thereabouts. Volume II will be accompanied by a bound selection of leaves from books printed right across the period concerned; and volume III will have an extra volume exposing, through the notes and calculations they made at the time, the learning process that John Fell and his partners went through as they tried to set up - unsuccessfully as it turned out - a commercially viable printing-house in the early 1670s.

Prices are still to be fixed but I hope we can keep them close to the prices of previous titles in our OUP series.

We still have a few copies available of The Fell Revival and Harry Carter, Typographer. Stanley Morison & 'John Fell' is sold out except for sets of sheets for binders. The OUP archives are a seam of wonderful printing history that still has much to be mined: we have plans for books on Horace Hart and the changes he wrought on the Press over his term as Controller from 1883 to 1915, and on the engraver Michael Burghers who engraved so many fine plates for the Press in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. More on these as our plans develop!

Finally I must advertise here the publication on 14 November 2013 of the Press's own The History of Oxford University Press, which covers the period from its beginnings to 1970. This has been more than five years in the making and my Printing at the University Press, Oxford arose out of having been commissioned to write or co-write three chapters for it. For more details visit OUP's own website.


progress on
Stockholm Reflections

Stunning images of the Stockholm waterfront by Leslie Gerry

to be published
2 November 2013

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A brief note on this: it is currently at the binders and it will be published at the Oxford Fine Press Book Fair. It is a stunning piece of work by Leslie Gerry and must be seen! I shall be sending out a paper prospectus soon, which will include a reduced version of one of Leslie's images, and as soon as I have a copy I shall put photographs up on our website. There will be just 95 copies, of which 89 will be for sale. The price will be 295.


a reminder about
The Oxford Fine Press Book Fair

The premier showcase in Europe for fine press books

2-3 November 2013
Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK

Presses from around the world, trade suppliers, print-related organisations - almost more than you can get round in the two days of the Fair, Saturday and Sunday. On the Sunday there will be a programme of lectures with four excellent speakers.

For full details visit the FPBA website.


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Copyright Martyn Ould 2013