An occasional newsletter about forthcoming books and events

August 2014


a new project
In search of the lost colours of the Cyclades

A proposed new title by John Sutcliffe


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John Sutcliffe's The Colours of Rome, which we published in October 2013, has been a great success and is now sold out. So we're delighted to be able to trail another book by him, scheduled for next year.

In his capacity as a decorative artist, John has done a great deal of work in the Cyclades, and one of the outcomes of this has been an interest in what happened to colour on the buildings of Greece and the islands in particular. Why are so many buildings white, and has that always been the fashion there? John is currently researching the answers to those questions, visiting the islands and looking for traces of the 'lost colours' and their history.

It's easy to imagine a book about the Cyclades along similar lines to The Colours of Rome but there will be some new twists which we'll feature in future newsletters. For now I'll simply say 'food'.


a new project
Venice Approached

a reprint of our first publication

Autumn 2014

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Our very first book, published in 1992 (though the title page says 1991!), was a text taken from John Ruskin's The Stones of Venice. Amongst about 120 cases of type that I bought early on from a letterpress shop that was closing down was a full case of 24pt Bembo italic - fresh, unused - and I used that for a large landscape book in a small edition. I've always wanted to reprint it, hoping to make a better job of it, and that moment has come.

Ruskin had a wonderful Victorian style: long, complex sentences, weaving in and out of subordinates clauses. For the compositor the result has its upside and its downside. Unusually, the first thing I would run out of was commas! On the upside his enormously long paragraphs meant solid blocks of text on the page, something I find rather attractive: none of those irritating indentations at the start of new paragraphs (I find unindented paragraphs equally annoying as the last sentence of the preceding paragraph simply finishes in mid-air - an annoying feature of many Golden Cockerell books.) On the other hand, that meant even greater care when hand-setting as correcting an error early in such a paragraph could mean having to rejustify the entire paragraph.

At 4,500 words it's the longest text I've hand-set, and although I have a substantial quantity of the 14pt Hunt Roman there is only enough for four or five large pages which has made it an interesting exercise to organise setting, printing, and dissing. Thus, I set pages 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7; proofed and corrected them together (lines can move back and forth across pages); printed then dissed 3, 5, and 7; set 8, 9, 10; proofed and corrected them together ; backed up 3, 5, and 7 with 4, 6, and 8; and so on. Thirteen pages of text in all. It makes a nice 16pp section which I am sewing into a simple case.

I've printed the text on a pale blue Hodgkinson hand-made paper. For the cases I've decided to use up a number of oddments from my plan chest: four patterned sheets hand-blocked by Alberto Valese in Venice will cover eight cases (they were left over from the original 1991 edition), and twenty-five overs of marbled papers that Ann Muir made for me over the years for various projects make another fifty. So, just fifty-eight copies.

The eight copies in Valese papers are not for sale, but the others will be 60 (euro90, US$120) each. I'll post photos of them when I have them ready. Let us know if you would like to reserve a copy. Which Ann Muir sheet you get will be a matter of pot luck!


another major project
We are moving

change of address

18 August onwards

It has for some years been our ambition to build our own home. Two important criteria were that it should have a sea view and space for The Old School Press within the building (rather than in a cold draughty garage). We spent five years looking for a site and found what we wanted on the Jurassic Coast last year. We hope to move in around this time next year, but meanwhile we are moving to a temporary home. Our new address can be found at the bottom of this newsletter.

A side-effect of this is that the press-shop has just this last week gone into hibernation in two shipping containers, so printing has had to be halted in the meantime. On the positive side, when we are not managing the new build I shall be working on future books, in particular John Sutcliffe's (see above) and my series on printing at Oxford University Press (see below). We shall of course still be happy to take and fulfil orders for our books in print.


a continuing project
Printing at the University Press, Oxford, 1660-1780

typesetting of volume I is well underway

late 2015

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I last reported on this major project last October. Typesetting of volume I ('Premises, people, paper') is now well underway and as usual it's a great pleasure to start seeing the book take real form, as Stan Lane sends me page proofs. As our presses will be out of action for a year I shall be helping Stan print the book as well at his workshop.

The first three volumes are written: volume II is subtitled 'Type' (the clue's in the name), and volume III 'Process' (covering day-to-day activity at the Press as revealed by the extant records). In the coming 'gap' year I plan to finish work on volume IV which has a rather different angle: whilst the other three volumes principally covered what was called the 'Learned Press', volume IV examines three years (1769-1772) in the work of the 'Bible Press' whose task was to print tens of thousands of bibles and prayer-books every year. I've been privileged to have had access to the detailed accounts which allow not just a quantitative analysis of the Bible Press's work but also qualitative deductions about how that work was managed. I feel confident that the four volumes will be unique in providing a detailed description of work in one of the most important of English presses.

As noted in an earlier newsletter, each volume will come in both a standard and a de luxe edition, the latter generally including an extra volume. I have already printed that for volume I: entitled 'Correspondence on Paper' it contains transcripts of hitherto unpublished correspondence from the London paper dealers to the Press in the 1670s, revealing much about the nature of their relationship, the logistics of obtaining paper in time of war, and the price and availability of quality papers from France and Holland.


at long last . . .
Tonge's Travels

we have had another batch bound


I have been promising for some time (too long . . .) to get more copies of this delightful Victorian travel diary bound and I'm pleased to say that finally I have had another batch prepared, by Ludlow Bookbinders.

Copies are 80 each plus p&p and can be ordered through our website or by replying to this email. NB: if you have asked for a copy in the past I should by now have contacted you to check if you would still like it.


now available in sheets:
The Daniel Press in Frome

for binders at a large discount

in print

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We have just had the remainder of the edition bound but I have kept back ten sets of sheets for binders. The book comes in eight sections making 120pp with two tip-ins. The trimmed page size is 230mm by 175 mm. Prices can be found at our website.


also available in sheets:
our books on printing history

three books for binders at a large discount


Three of our past titles on or around Oxford University Press are now sold out in the bound form, but we still have some sets of sheets available for binders.

We are offering the package of all three - Harry Carter, Typographer, Stanley Morison & 'John Fell', and The Fell Revival - for the knock-down price of 100 - a discount of more than 25%. They make a great set, all books with original research. Just seven sets available. Read more here.



check out our
bargain-box books

we are clearing the decks before moving


Our planned move has naturally meant a clean sweep of everything in the house and that includes Old School Press materials scattered here and there. As a result, I have a number of ex-display and/or out-of-series books for sale at very reasonable prices. You can find the list here and order by email here. First come first served.


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Copyright Martyn Ould 2014