An occasional newsletter about forthcoming books and events

March 2019

In this newsletter . . .

a new bookshop: Balch & Balch

a sell-out: Blue & Grey

press drudgery: sorting spacing material


news of
Balch & Balch - Private Press Bookshop

A new shop specialising in fine press books in the UK opening soon

opens 30 March 2019

The Story of Books
20 Castle Street
Hay-on-Wye HR3 5DF

We're pleased to be amongst some fine UK presses whose books will be on sale at a new shop in the 'town of books', Hay-on-Wye in Wales.

Two rooms upstairs at The Story of Books will be dedicated to displaying and selling letterpress-printed books from private presses, with exhibitions downstairs celebrating the private press movement and showing the process of making of some of the books on sale.

The Old School Press will have four books on show and on sale: Palladio's Homes, The Lost Colours of the Cyclades, A Long Story, and An Italian Dream.


progress on
Blue & Grey

All sold!

out of print

Gone in a flash - sorry to have disappointed some people.


A grinding task

. . . but it has to be done


Hand-setting text that is to be justified means getting the spacing between words even down the line. That means using one or more pieces of spacing material between each word.

And spacing material comes in eight different widths: em (a space as wide as the type is high), en (half an em), 3-to-em (i.e. a third of an em), 4-to-em, 5-to-em, 6-to-em, a brass (1pt), and a copper (0.5pt). Not to mention 'clumps' which are multiples of an em. When I distribute hand-set type back into case I throw all the spacing into a grey container. Gradually it builds up and finally the moment comes when it must be sorted into the different sizes. The moment came this week as the container of 14pt spacing was filled to brimming. In the photo below I'm about two-thirds through sorting it. You have to get your eye in to spot the difference between a 5-to-em space and a 6-to-em space - just 7/1000 of an inch. If only there were a machine that one could use - is there, I wonder?

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Copyright Martyn Ould 2019