• Making labels for pricing isn’t really the most interesting of letterpress printing jobs, and I suppose that is why this is the first time I’ve bothered. Back in the heyday of commercial letterpress printing it would be the sort of work that would be farmed out to a specialist printer, but not if you need them immediately. And I am generally willing to make exceptions for myself. So here we are, Scotch Roman in 24pt. They dried overnight and went on bagged copies of the second printing of STONES by Matthew Hollis, and were off in packages for the Cheltenham Literary Festival and the Bridlington Poetry Festival. Handsome they look too.


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Incline Press feature in Parenthesis 26

Dennis Hall and Carol Manheim braved the dangers of the North when they drove up to Incline Press for a day last summer. Their efforts have born fruit in the latest edition of Parenthesis, the journal of the Fine Press Book Association, where a small article about the press includes pictures of the workshop which led one recent correspondent to write, ‘An encouraging antidote to those photographs of over-immaculate presses…”. We could have wished they had turned their eyes to the glory that is the Bow Street Community Garden; but we were pleased they seemed to enjoy their day.  Thorsten Sjölin’s checklist of books printed since 1993 is appended for completists.

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Letter Exchange

Weiss _letters

It was a pleasure to join Jerry Cinamon, author of E R Weiss : the Typography of an Artist, at the Letter Exchange in London on March 12th. I talked about how the book was put together, and Jerry explained the significance of Weiss’s work and its context. There is an illustrated report of the meeting at http://www.letterexchange.org/


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Happy New Year 2014


Pulling our annual New Year Book together is never straightforward. We’ve been greeting the New Year this way now for twenty years, and we can safely say that no two have been much alike. From the beginning the plan has been to find interesting content first, and fit it to whatever paper is about the place. So usually they have been printed on carefully stored off-cuts from books, and designed to minimize waste as well as to look nice. When all goes according to plan, they are printed in our break between Christmas and New Year, when we lay aside the current project and devote the week to this jeu d’esprit.

The content came easily this year: we were impressed with Vona Groarke’s poem as soon as we read it – high on the wall in the atrium at John Rylands Library (see the last post for the context), and were pleased to have her permission to publish it. At this time of year when we metaphorically archive the events and achievements of the past year and mentally prepare ourselves for the year to come, it seemed particularly apt.

Although we hope to print a large broadsheet version, printed in 12-point type, the poem makes a handsome 20th New Year Booklet. We found some Wookey Hole mould-made off cuts for the content, hand-set and printed the poem in Lectura type, and sewed the finished sheets into Murillo card covered with a decorated paper designed by Alan Drummond. To complete the whole we also made the envelopes to suit.

Although subscribers and Friends of the Press get copies in January, we do have some copies available for purchase from the website. Booklet and envelope come together in a plain brown wrapper.

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Portrait of a Living Archive.

It’s a busy time of year in Manchester. The Christmas Fair is in full swing in the increasing number of traffic-free streets in the city centre, its stalls delighting us with prize-winning cheeses from Preston, decorated coffee mugs from the Fire Station in Salford, freshly baked coconut macaroons, and many such earthly delights. In the atrium at the John Rylands Library on Deansgate is more, an exhibition of portraits of recent collaborators and patrons of the library. Portrait of a Living Archive, which runs until 13 January in the New Year, is the work of two of Rylands’ staff photographers, Gwen Jones and James Robinson. This exhibition turns the traditional image of a library as musty shelves and old books on its head, showing instead a few of the people who insure that Rylands continues to develop.

Graham and Skipper

A portrait of Graham is included in the exhibition. Like the others, it aims to show its subject in his working environment. This photo, which perhaps gives a bit too much prominence to our Skipper, was one of the rejected proofs, so we persuaded Jamie to let us have a copy to show here. Although the portrait in the exhibition excludes Skipper, it includes a fair slice the workshop.

Other portraits show bookbinders Dominic Riley and Paul Delrue; Eleanor Crawford and Michael Schmidt of Carcanet Press, Manchester calligrapher Stephen Raw, who designs many of their book covers, and the authors Mary Griffiths and Robyn Marsack.  Carcanet’s archive is housed in the Library. Poets Elaine Feinstein and Grevel Lindop, whose archives are also in the Library, are included in the exhibition, as is Vona Groarke. Each of the portraits is accompanied by a short autobiographical statement. Vona, whose archive in the Library is classified as Accession 9, Box 4, offered a poem with that title, which Gwen and James have reproduced to stunning effect high on the atrium wall. It will be published as our twentieth New Year Book early in January.

Rylands exhibition

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Enid Marx

Duck With everyone from Eye Magazine to Birds of Ohio talking about Enid Marx, her designs, and her prominence in the fabulous exhibition at Compton Verney (through 15 December 2013) we thought it might be fun to show a few of her illustrations from our 1996 chapbook Who Killed Cock Robin.  These tiny wood engravings, printed from the wood, re-use the blocks she cut for Nursery Rhymes (Chatto & Windus, 1939). They make a amusing contrast with the large linocuts she produced for Marco’s Animal Alphabet, yet for all the difference in size, they share her trademark energetic cutting and her ability to use simple black and white contrast to good effect.

Big vs little

We printed this at Marco’s request, so that she could give them to her many nieces and nephews.  But there are no limits on an edition when you’re doing proper chapbook printing, so we printed LOTS and then bound these baby chapbooks in brightly coloured paper with poor cock robin printed in red on the cover.  Graham vividly remembers sewing copies on the train as he made his way back to London to deliver the finished product, trying to keep from stabbing himself with the needle as the train jerked and swayed!  Copies are still available on the website; we think they make lovely gifts.


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What would Laurence do?

hez_coverPrinting sermons is not usually our sort of lark, but that’s our current project for the Laurence Sterne Trust. Working on it reminds us of our enthusiasm for what Francis Meynell called “allusive typography”, the art of designing a book to recall, or allude to, another typographical era.  This is not facsimile printing, the task of slavishly following someone else’s design, but something we think is more fun–using historic typographic conventions as inspiration for a current project. DSCN0638For the printed style of The Case of Hezekiah and the Messengers, one of Laurence Sterne’s last sermons, we’ve drawn on other 18th-century printed sermons, including this small volume of Sterne’s sermons which were published in 1766 under the name of Mr Yorick, Sterne’s clerical alter ego in Tristram Shandy.  For this first separate edition of the sermon, we have kept the Caslon type of the original, the sometimes curious punctuation and Sterne’s emphatic dashes, but dispensed with the long s and the catchwords at the foot of each page. As well as this print version of the text, Hezekiah is going to be delivered at York Minster as part of Voice from the Pulpit in celebration of the Laurence Sterne Tercentenary, and is available with other sermons on a CD from Shandy Hall.

The sermon speaks directly to our times – As his monument in Coxwold churchyard reads in part:

                                         Sterne was The Man, who with gigantic stride

                                          Mowed down luxuriant follies far and wide.

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