Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, 2009

{Ed. Note: Librarything user Celtic (Neil), who was kind enough to be one of the first Books and Vine subscribers, has an outstanding collection of fine press books. When I posted an article on a couple books I had picked up from Martyn Ould’s The Old School Press, Celtic offered up another excellent work from them. Below is his article and pictures on Palladio’s Homes}.

Palladio’s Villas are synonymous with classical elegance and you could say the same about the book. Martyn Ould does not fill his books with decoration. When he includes illustrations, he uses them thoughtfully and sparingly. I can see why a book about Palladio would have appealed to him. I have ‘busier’ books visually, but I like this one for it’s classical simplicity, typographical expertise and very high standard of hand-made production.

The book is big – it is about 14 1/2″ x 10 1/2″. The grey cloth used for the binding is attractive, of high quality and appears very durable. The hand-made ‘cloudy sky’ paper used to cover the boards is thick, textured and beautiful. The grey cloth ‘wrap’ is a clever idea as you get protection for the book without rubbing the paper sides through squeezing them in and out of a slipcase. The outside of the book is pleasant to look at!

Martyn Ould really hits his stride when you open the book. If you like thick, textured hand-made Italian paper, you’ll love this. The borders are big and they frame the text magnificently. The book opens with a double-page spread showing a pen and ink drawing/coloured lino-cut on the verso and large coloured titling on the recto. The illustrations by Carlo Rapp are lovely and they are framed with a different coloured lino-cut for each villa – the colours work beautifully and make the pictures leap off the page (where a villa is not illustrated, a floor-plan is substituted). The large 14D Dante typeface (made famous by Mardersteig/Officina Bodoni) is appropriate for a book with an Italian theme. The double-page spreads with the Italian text facing the English text surrounded by the previously mentioned generous margins is elegant and the dash of colour every now and then from the illustrations keeps it visually interesting.

The main part of the text is basically the preface from Palladio’s I Quattro Libri dellArchitettura which is interesting in itself, but when joined with comments that frame the ‘villa by villa’ section from people such as Inigo Jones, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Thomas Coryat it takes on a new dimension. The book finishes with an interesting essay from Witold Rybczynski who has written extensively on Palladio.

Palladio’s Homes is a book that has been conceived by a private-press owner who loves Palladio’s Villas and has produced a book that is as elegant and classical as the subject itself. I would not have thought about buying a hand-made book about Palladio if I had not read about it on The Old School Press website and understood the thinking behind it, including the time, effort, skills and materials that went into making it – I am glad I bought it and also view it as relatively great value.

About the Edition

  • Italian artist Signor Carlo Rapp has prepared illustrations for seven of the thirteen villas covered, using linocuts and pen and ink drawings
  • Carlo Rapp’s images are printed from line blocks and his lino-cuts
  • Essay by Witold Rybczynski
  • Text machine set in 14D Dante by Gloucester Typesetting
  • Printed at The Old School Press on a carta a mano from Cartiera Amatruda, Amalfi using a Western proof press
  • The titles are set in 24 pt and 60 pt Castellar
  • The calligraphic device is by Celia Lister
  • Quarter-bound in dark grey cloth, and cover paper was hand-made by Cave Paper, Minneapolis
  • The binding was executed by Ludlow Bookbinders Ltd
  • Book is presented in a robust wrap of board covered in the same cloth as the spine; both book and wrap carry a spine label
  • 14 3/8 in. by 10 3/8 in, 128 pages
  • Limited to 170 copies


(All pictures on Books and Vines are exclusively provided to highlight and visualize the work being reviewed.  A side benefit, hopefully, is encouraging healthy sales of fine press books for the publishers and fine retailers that specialize in these types of books (of which Books and Vines has no stake or financial interest). Please note that works photographed are copyrighted by the publisher, author and/or illustrator as indicated in the articles. Permission to use contents from these works for anything outside of fair use purposes must come directly from the copyright owner and no permission is granted or implied to use photo’s found on Books and Vines for any purpose that would infringe on the rights of the copyright owner.)

Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Book in Slipcase
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Book and Slipcase
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Cover
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Frontispiece and Title Page
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Sample Text
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, The Villas
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Sample Illustration #1 with Text
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Sample Illustration #3 with Text
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Sample Text #2
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Sample Illustration #4 with Text
Palladio’s Homes, The Old School Press, Colophon

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