The Whittington Press Open Day 2016

presstival

This year our annual open day will take place on Saturday 3rd September, beginning at 1pm. Added to our usual array of UK based letterpress printers are Russell Maret and Gaylord Schanilec from the USA, Peter Allen from France and Annette Disslin from Germany.

The Press will have three of its presses working, as well as an informal exhibition of its work, including copies of Venice, its latest title, and pages from Matrix 34 which is going on press this week. Neil Winter will be demonstrating the Monotype Casters and there will be displays of marbling, goatskin from Nigeria, hand-made and mould-made papers and hand-printed wallpaper.

As well as books and ephemera there will be an array of printers equipment and type for sale and the open day coincides with the village fete so if you fancy your chances at skittles or own a talented dog you could be going home with a few prizes . . .

 


Matrix 34

marbled paper

Matrix 34 hits the press next week and will encompass a wide variety of topics, united by its primary interest in printing by letterpress, from metal type. This preoccupation can take many forms, and includes this year:

Printing at a small west-country newspaper using a Monotype caster and a Wharfedale cylinder press; the extraordinary archive of the Officina Bodoni; an insider account of the Westerham Press, the most technically innovative, and amongst the most typographically aware, printers of its time; setting poetry on a Ludlow caster; the inter-reaction of pottery and letter-cutting; selling and installing Wharfedale presses in the 60s and 70s; learning to cut a punch from one of its few remaining practitioners; an untypically warm correspondence with Edward Bawden; a little-known Polish private press in pre-war Florence, using Nicolas Cochin types; working for Gordon Russell; Matisse and the books he created in Paris with Tériade; Stinehour Press and Meriden Gravure; and much else besides, all cast from the moulds of Monotype casters in Caslon, Poliphilus, Goudy Modern, Scotch Roman, Bell and Cochin types, and printed with the crisp impression of an SBB Heidelberg cylinder press: a rare combination of technical and literary excellence – possibly even unique in our careless, digital age.


Venice by John Craig

whittington press

Venice is at last back from the binders, having been on the press for most of 2015. The 80 wood-engravings, and some linocuts, some with colour, have made the book a printer’s challenge. John Craig’s use of white space has, as with Britten’s Aldeburgh (2000) and The Locks of the Oxford Canal (1985), been critical, and the asymmetric imposition of type and images is based upon his precise layouts. The resulting double-page spreads can be seen almost as a series of stage sets, introducing us to the often undiscovered delights of a city which he has visited regularly for the past twenty years.Venice is at last back from the binders, having been on the press for most of 2015. The 80 wood-engravings, and some linocuts, some with colour, have made the book a printer’s challenge. John Craig’s use of white space has, as with Britten’s Aldeburgh (2000) and The Locks of the Oxford Canal (1985), been critical, and the asymmetric imposition of type and images is based upon his precise layouts. The resulting double-page spreads can be seen almost as a series of stage sets, introducing us to the often undiscovered delights of a city which he has visited regularly for the past twenty years.
The French-fold binding style is a new departure for us. The pages are left folded at the top edge, enabling us to use a lightweight Zerkall mould-made paper, specially hot-pressed to give an extra sheen for the engravings, and allowing us to print throughout on the smooth side of the paper only. The book, all copies of which are bound in leather, opens beautifully. Four of the engravings are printed in colour on lightweight Korean and Japanese hand-made papers, and tipped in.

The book comes in three editions, the C edition of which is available here:

150 copies are quarter-bound in dark brown Pirate* leather, with printed paper sides, lightweight boards, and coloured endpapers, in a slipcase. £235 (£195 before publication)
50 copies are half-bound in Oasis leather and printed paper sides, coloured endpapers, and a set of proofs of many of the engravings, on proofing paper, in a slipcase. £395 (£365 before publication)
40 copies are full bound in black Oasis leather inlaid to a design by John Craig, coloured endpapers, and a set of signed prints of most of the engravings, on proofing paper, in a solander box. £1100 (£950 before publication) SOLD OUT

*Pirate leather is another new departure for us, with an interestingly unsophisticated but smooth, dark finish.


Borders used by the Curwen Press

Curwen Press

The following extract is from Matrix 5:

(click image to open slideshow)

The Curwen Press finally passed onto the hands of the receiver in January 1984, and its largely irreplaceable stock of types was rescued from the melting pot in the nick of time by Ian Mortimer, with the help of Michael Heseltine of Sothebys.

In order to do this they had to buy the entire Curwen Press composing room outright. As Ian Mortimer wrote in the elegantly produced eight-page A Short Notice from I.M. Imprimit about the Fate of the Types from the Curwen Press Following its Closure, and the Purchase of the Entire Composing Room Stock, May 1984 (100 copies of which were printed for the American Typecasting Fellowship’s conference in June 1984), ‘The task of moving the type was daunting. The enormity of the operation will be appreciated when it is made clear that the “composing room” consisted in fact of three large rooms together with an office and a store, with some twelve hundred cases of type contained in twenty-two tallboys, twelve single case-racks, countless galleys of stored and standing type and what amounted to about six tons of type in pages, carefully wrapped and labelled on shelves. There were in addition three case-racks devoted to fleurons & borders: one of foundry borders and two of monotype. In all, as the subsequent moving & clearing showed, there were about thirty-five tons of type.’

Thanks to Ian Mortimer’s foresight and perseverance, some of the Curwen types have survived, and a selection of them, and some borders, are shown in the following pages.


Whittington Press Open Day/Presstival – 5th September 2015, 2 p.m.

Venice John Craig

This year’s open day will be larger than ever, with some 27 stands showing the work of printers from Germany, Poland, Hungary, as well as the UK, including of course the Whittington Press and Nomad Letterpress. The Press will have three of its presses working, as well as an informal exhibition of its work, including images from Venice, its latest title, and copies of the newly published Matrix 33 will be available. Neil Winter will be demonstrating the Monotype Casters and there will be displays of marbling, goatskin from Nigeria, hand-made and mould-made papers and hand-printed wallpaper.

John & Rosalind Randle.


Baskerville

Baskerville type

Recently discovered at Whittington: the diecase for 24-point Baskerville,which went missing a while ago. It’s probable that only a handful of these were made (only 11 were made for 24-point Caslon), and this one is barely used, and comes with the nicely lettered label from the Monotype department of Oxford University Press, whose diecases have been at Whittington since 1986. When time allows we shall be fonting Baskerville in 24-, 22-, 18-, 16-, 14- and 12-point roman and italic (roman only in 24- and 22-point), with all the ligatures and special sorts that Oxford always included with each face they installed – the 24-point roman includes the attractive ct ligature. We shall only do a small number of founts of each size, so please let us know if you’re interested.


Matrix 5: The Curwen Press Collection in Cambridge University Library, by John Dreyfus

Edward Bawden

The Curwen Press can be regarded as the high point of mid-twentieth century creative, commercial letterpress, and no one was better qualified to describe it than John Dreyfus – successor to Stanley Morison as typographic advisor to the Monotype Corporation, Assistant Printer to Cambridge University Press, a director of the Curwen Press from 1970 to 1982, and­ unofficial advisor to Matrix on all matters typographic from its second issue in 1982 until his death in 2002. The wealth of illustration that accompanied his article came from the unique Curwen archive at Cambridge University Library. David McKitterick’s fine tribute to John appeared in Matrix 23.         John Randle


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The Wrington Wharfdale by Bernard Seward

Wrington Wharfdale

Wrington wood typeIn about 1988 I went down to visit Organs with Bernard Seward, somewhere on the outskirts of Bristol. My recollection is of a large rather unprepossessing looking shed, inside which was a Printers’ Aladdin’s Cave. Most of the floor space was take up with the largest Wharfedale I had ever seen, an Extra-Quad Royal 2 colour used for printing the posters in which the firm specialised. Around it were sloping shelves containing a profusion of wood type, the like of which I had also never seen before, in all sizes, weights, and compressions imaginable.

John Organ told us on a second visit that this collection was destined for a ‘graphic designer in London called Alan Kitching’ whose story is told in Matrix 26, ‘Liberated by Letterpress’, ending with now much quoted phrase: ‘Though locked tight in metal, it’s amazing how liberating letterpress can be’.       John Randle


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Matrix 33

Matrix 33

Matrix 33 will contain some 160 pages, including 8 pages of colour plates; type specimens printed in France, Italy, America and the UK; and many other linocut, and line and colour illustrations. The contents will include:

‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’: Protest Images from the Nineteen Sixties by Dennis Gould; Herbert Jefferies, or The Bronze Buckaroo by Barbara Henry; Bradley Hutchinson – a Letterpress Fusion by Catherine Docter; Flaps & Hinges by Andrew Anderson; Hornby and the Daniels, their Correspondence by William S. Peterson; Reynolds Stone by Humphrey Stone; Lac Des Pleurs by Gaylord Schanilec; It’s Not Nostalgia, the Skill and Vision of Lowell Bodger by Paul Shaw; An Eighteenth-Century Factory for Bibles by Martyn Ould; The Rampant Lions Press at the Fitzwilliam Museum, 1982 by Sebastian Carter; Reprinting Printing Types: a Wander through the Design of Stephenson Blake’s Type Specimens by David Marshall and Elizabeth Ellis; Wood Type Revival by Tom Mayo; Tribulations of a Publishing Bookseller by George Ramsden; Matrix and Minnesota by John Randle; Donatus Pro Puerulis, the Lost Subiaco Edition and a Replica Imagined by Richard Årlin; Watermarks, and the Flow of Time by Enrico Tallone; From the Guild of St Joseph to Ditchling Museum by Jenny KilBride; Émigrés by Anna Nyburg; First Folio by Louisa Hare; La Fin du Monde by Celine Biewesch; Bristol to Mainz, with Bicycle and Adana by Nick Hand; A Bookseller’s Diary by Sophie Schneideman; Book Reviews by Paul W. Nash, John Randle and Patrick Randle.

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Minnesota & Whittington

Whittington Press archive

16 of the fifty boxes destined for the archives of the University of Minnesota, total weight almost half a ton, to join the rest of the Whittington archive that has already been there for nearly 30 years. The University had our only complete collection of every book in every edition in 1985, a collection which it would now be virtually impossible to repeat. It will now have all the correspondence files going back to A Boy at the Hogarth Press in 1972, including for the first 32 issues of Matrix, the working material (proofs, paste-ups, layouts) for each publication, and much else besides.

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Michael Harvey: ‘Book-jackets’

Michael Harvey Jubilate

Michael Harvey was the finest lettering artist of his generation, following in the tradition of Berthold Wolpe at Fabers. I first met him in 1972 when I worked for Heinemann, for whom he did some work. We discussed the idea of him doing an alphabet for the embryonic Whittington Press, but sadly nothing came of it. In Matrix 26 he described his apprenticeship with Reynolds Stone, and in Matrix 27 his earlier time stonecutting with Joseph Cribb, who had worked with Eric Gill at Ditchling before the war. John Randle

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