An occasional newsletter about forthcoming books and events

June 2015


a new home for
The Old School Press

Where are we?


News from The Old School Press has been scant recently. In August last year we announced that we were building a new home on the Jurassic coast between Seaton and Beer and that we hoped to be moving into it in August this year.

Our confidence on timing was based on the fact that we are having the house built by German eco-home builders Baufritz. And our hopes are being fulfilled as the schedule proceeds with great accuracy. We expect to receive the keys in two months' time, at which point we shall start what will be quite a complicated move. Most of our worldly goods are in store, in fact in three stores, as well as what we have here in Bere Ferrers where we have been living since last August.

A major part of that move will be getting The Old School Press out of the two shipping containers where it has been hibernating into the studio on the ground floor of the new house. Given the weight of presses etc, the heating in the studio has had to be put in the walls and ceiling instead of under the floor and the concrete screed thickened, but we shall - after 25 years - be working in a heated space! And it will be a room with a view up the Jurassic Coast as far as Portland Bill.

Nevertheless, despite all the energy Angela and I have had to put into the new venture The Old School Press has not been idle over the last year: read on.


progress on
Printing at the University Press, Oxford 1660-1780

Volume I nearly ready for printing

To be published at
the 2015 Oxford Fair

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Stan Lane has just finished the typesetting of the main text of volume I. This has allowed me to draw up the index and I shall be sending off the copy for it today. His work has been much hindered by major construction work at the business park where he has his workshop. The next obstacle will probably be getting the paper stocks for the book up to the first floor where he works and has his Heidelberg press - his hoist is still not in action.

As presaged last year, because The Old School Press's presses are out of action Stan will be printing the book with my help, and I am looking forward to working with (and not hindering!) him in putting the 160 pages through the press. As part of the preparation I have put together a paste-up of the entire book using a set of proofs from Stan. This will allow us to quickly pair pages that are to be printed on the same sheet and hence must go into the forme together.

This first volume covers the premises that the Press occupied during the period 1660 to 1780, the people who played key roles in its management, and the paper on which it printed. Volume II (which we hope will follow next year - it and volume III are ready for typesetting) will cover the type used by the Press and its acquisition. Volume III explores in detail the process by which an author's copy was transformed into printed sheets ready for the customer's binder. We believe that the three volumes will together constitute one of the most comprehensive analyses of the working life of a commercial press in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The de luxe copies of Volume I will have an additional volume of hitherto unpublished correspondence from the London paper wholesalers to the Press in the 1670s, at a time when war in Europe played havoc with imports of good paper from France and Italy and made life very difficult for Fell's Press at the very time that it was trying to get established.


progress on
The lost colours of the Cyclades


A new title by John Sutcliffe

Early 2016

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I announced this new book last August and decorative artist John Sutcliffe and I have made good progress. John has made several visits to the Greek islands (indeed he is there as I write), researching the background, photographing the evidence, and sampling the cuisine.

He has now drafted the bulk of the text which we are jointly working on. The overall book begins to take shape, with material that displays the hidden palette John has been uncovering and the story behind the changes that have occurred. John draws a parallel between the way that stark white has almost entirely replaced colour on the islands with the way that the cuisine has become homogenised for the tourist. Yet there is colour to be found on the islands both on its buildings and in its food if you know where to look. John reports on both.

The lost colours of the Cyclades will follow a similar scheme to that that worked so well for The colours of Rome ... but with some twists. There will be both standard and de luxe editions. We hope to be printing the book in early 2016.


progress on
Venice approached

John Ruskin at his eloquent best

In print

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Another book announced last August was Venice Approached, a printing of Ruskin's description of the journey from Padua to Venice by gondola. There are still some copies left of the small edition of fifty copies for sale, each bound in a different marbled paper by the late Ann Muir. All the copies are wrapped so which pattern you get must be a surprise.

The text has been set in 14pt Hunt Roman and printed on a pale-blue Hodgkinson hand-made paper, making a single section of sixteen pages sewn between end-papers of Hahnemühle Bugra Bütten into a simple case covered with the marbled paper. £60 (euro90, US$120) each. Click here if you would like to order or enquire about the title.

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2015