An occasional newsletter about forthcoming books and events

December 2019

In this newsletter . . .

progress on: At nightfall on the shortest day

a new book planned: Michael Burghers: Oxford engraver


progress on
At nightfall on the shortest day

Text by Peter Davidson, wood engraving by Paul Kershaw

to be published March 2020

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I have had the text all set for some time now - all in 14pt Fournier italic - but hadn't set to printing it as I had noticed that one of my forme rollers (which apply the ink to the type) had for some reason become very slightly dipped in the centre, meaning that inking might not be as regular as it should be. So it had to go away for recovering.

For the paper I've chosen what is very probably an historic hand-made paper, originally acquired by Oxford University Press, and thence Whittington Press, before coming to The Old School Press. It is listed in John Bidwell's Fine papers at the Oxford University Press (sample 5). Bidwell reckons it was the paper bought by the Press from the Joseph Batchelor mill for the celebrated Lectern Bible designed by Bruce Rogers.

It required damping, so I started my now customary regime for damping, drying, and pressing sheets. (You can read about that in our April 2017 newsletter - accessed via the 'archive' button on the home page of our website.) Within a week the printing was complete - with dampened paper I generally reckon to print both sides of a sheet in one day, and with a small print-run of just sixty this made an easy day.

Paul Kershaw is at work on his wood engraving and I shall be printing that in the New Year on a separate sheet which will be tipped in.

Finally, the single section will be sewn into soft covers: I have some hand-made paper from the Larroque mill in a suitably heather-mixture colour with a lovely soft texture. All very traditional. There will be fifty-five copies of this booklet, of which about forty-five will be for sale. Price to be determined.

(In case you're confused, we've changed the title from the earlier Keeping the twilight.)


a new book planned
Michael Burghers: Oxford engraver

A monograph by Jim Nottingham and Martyn Ould

to be published March 2020

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As part of my preparation for a chapter for Oxford University Press's own history about ten years ago I teamed up with experienced intaglio printer Jim Nottingham. His considerable skill with printing copper plate engravings has meant that he has been entrusted with the printing of some of the plates that were engraved for the Press in the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century. 

One of the most notable engravers in Oxford in the period was Michael Burghers. He engraved plates not only for the University but also for other editors and booksellers who had their books printed at the University Press. His elusive story has not been told before, though he gets mentions in the works of Harry Carter, Falconer Madan, and other more recent writers.

To give you a flavour of the delicacy and precision of some of Burghers's work, here's a small snippet (at lo-res) from one of his engravings. I love the way the man at bottom right is looking at us.

We felt it was a good moment to prepare a monograph about Burghers and, as well as gathering the few facts known of his life and offering a conspectus of his style, technique, and output, we will be bringing his work alive with prints from some of his original plates. We're fortunate in having been given permission by the Press for Jim to print from eight of Burghers's plates dating from the period 1680-1720. (Fortunately some survived the First World War: tragically for us, the majority were scrapped to provide copper plates for war materials, including that for the engraving shown above.) The book will run to about 32pp plus the engravings in a separate section. Given the labour required to print on a rolling-press and the need to preserve these ancient artefacts, the edition will be of just forty copies with about thirty for sale.

In line with our previous books about the Press the book will be a demy quarto, and the text will be printed letterpress in Monotype Van Dijck. We currently expect that the text will be printed on a slate-grey Abbey Mills laid paper, and the engravings on a heavy BFK Rives to bring out their detail. The binding and price are still to be determined. However, we will be offering a pre-publication price and in return for pre-payment we will print a subscriber's name in the colophon to yield an ad personam copy.

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Copyright Martyn Ould 2019