I saw an ad in the latest Parenthesis for a fine press publisher in England with the name ‘The Old School Press’ owned and operated by Martyn and Angela Ould. The name resonated with me since I tend to like “old school” works! A visit to their web site shows an interesting mix of small publications, including lots of poetry. They publish new texts in limited editions, using letterpress, fine paper and hand binding. Prices are very reasonable. Here are a couple examples of their work, with descriptions pulled from the website and pictures provided by me.
On Durham (De Sitv Dvnelmi)
The last extant poem in the Anglo-Saxon poetic tradition is The Old English Durham Poem. It tells of the site in the North of England on which the city has been built and the relics of the saints assembled there. David Crane has provided an introduction to his new translation of the poem, a translation that matches the metrical structure and alliteration of the original. It is printed in hand-set Stephenson Blake Caslon Old Face (including the 10, 12, 14, 18, 22 and 30pt) on Zerkall mould-made paper, and sewn into a wrapper of heavy, hammered Zerkall.
There is a trade edition of about 250 copies ($10) with a nineteenth century wood-engraving, found in the stock of a Durham printer, printed from the wood. A regular edition of about 50 copies ($35) also contains an additional line drawing by Wendy Batt of an interior from Durham Cathedral and an additional wrapper of kozo handmade paper. The pictures that follow are from the regular edition.
The paper and print are very nice, and though the poem itself is only one page, I found the introduction from Crane interesting. Here are some pictures, with apologies for the poor lighting.
An Italian Dream, by Charles Dickens
This is chapter seven from Pictures of Italy, by Charles Dickens. In this chapter, Dickens describes his visit to La Serenissima as if remembering a dream that happened between two other, more prosaic stops on his tour. ‘In the luxurious wonder of so rare a dream, I took but little heed of time, and had but little understanding of its flight. But there were days and nights in it; and when the sun was high, and when the rays of lamps were crooked in the running water, I was still afloat, I thought: plashing the slippery walls and houses with the cleavings of the tide, as my black boat, borne upon it, skimmed along the streets.’
The text was set automatically in 12pt Poliphilus from the digital copy by Harry McIntosh at Speedspools. Poliphilus is a type based closely on that cut by Francesco Griffo and used for Aldus Manutius’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili which was published in Venice in 1499. The text was printed on a dampened hand-made paper from the Carteria Amatruda in Amalfi, a stock of which bought from Christopher Skelton’s estate some years back. Complementing that are end-papers of a burgundy-coloured Magnani Firenze, another Italian hand-made. The book consists of a single section of 16pp sewn into boards. The front cover carries a photograph, digitally manipulated, that Martyn Ould took on a rather misty day from Dorsoduro, towards San Giorgio, though the latter was not to be seen. The edition is 135 copies. $70.
This is a beautifully done little book; small, but everything done top notch. As with On Durham, the paper and type is especially nice. For those who have been to Venice, sipping a nice wine on a spring day while reading this fine edition will dreamily put you back into the mindset of being there! I find this a nice insert to the amazing Allen Press edition of A Venetian Story by Lord Byron (which will be reviewed on Books and Vines in the coming months).