It’s the Holidays — Support the Fine Press Eco-System!

As the holiday’s quickly approach, it is time to remind all Books and Vines readers about the importance of doing all we can to support those who create and sell the finely done private press books we all admire. In a world awash in digital books and mindless, one size fits all (fonts, designs), throw away, mass produced plunk….what better, thoughtful, unique and meaningful gift is there than hand-made, uniquely designed, carefully crafted books or broadsides from today’s fine private presses? Those receiving such a gift will cherish the tactile sensation of deeply embedded and consciously chosen letterpress type on mould-made or hand-made paper, not to mention the exquisite quality of the wood-engravings, lithographs, silkscreens, etchings or photogravures and the hand-done binding design, well thought out and using only the finest of materials. How could they not treasure the thoughtfulness of the giver?!!!  Of course, you yourself deserve such a gift, even if it should come from yourself!

In all seriousness, we all know the economy has been brutal for years now. Private press books are not always inexpensive, and can sometimes be hard to justify when one is working around the clock just to put food on the table and keep shelter over the head of their family. Having said that, if you are planning on spending some money on holiday gifts, why not buck the trend of spending money on quickly outdated electronics from multi-billion dollar corporations and instead spend the money on finely done, never outdated, hand-made work from today’s private press printers? I assure you, today’s private presses are not run by billionaires doing this to further line their pockets…no, they are run by men and women who live and breathe type, ink and paper, with remuneration for their efforts barely enough to cover the cost of the beautiful works you get in return.

The economy has not only negatively impacted us consumers, but has also made it extremely difficult for private press publishers and fine book resellers. These people are standing athwart the mindless electronic tide, saving and carrying forward this important cultural skill for future generations while providing the books arts with lasting contributions from this generation to posterity. Those of us who appreciate and embrace this craft and art must take responsibility to do all we can to support this private press ecosystem; we have a critical role in ensuring its future. This holiday season, if at all financially feasible, please consider purchases that will help this ecosystem survive through these tough times.

Books and Vines has a number of links to private presses from which you can find a wide range of private press editions to fit all tastes and budgets. From stunning livres d’artiste books running thousands of dollars, to beautiful smaller works of short stories, poems or broadsides for often well under $100, there is something for everyone.  Keep in mind that many private press publishers offer significant discounts of 20-30% for subscribing to their press. Doing so often pays for itself within 3-4 books (a win for you) while providing the publishers with a more certain revenue stream (win for them). Whether you subscribe or not, here is just a small sample of many works to choose from this holiday season:

The Mad Angler's Manifesto, (2013) by Michael Delp, seven color linocut reduction print by Chad Pastotnik. 12 3/4 x 26 inches (32 x 66 cm), Signed and lettered by the author and artist, printed in 2 colors. $65 (Deep Wood Press)
The Mad Angler’s Manifesto, (2013) by Michael Delp, seven color linocut reduction print by Chad Pastotnik. 12 3/4 x 26 inches (32 x 66 cm), Signed and lettered by the author and artist, printed in 2 colors. $65 (Deep Wood Press)
Stories of Snow takes its title from a poem by P. K. Page. Its display type is Elysian, with ornaments printed in grey-blue and mauve, on Biblio mouldmade paper, with mauve wrappers handmade by David Carruthers at the Papeterie St-Armand in Montréal. There are poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Hardy, Archibald Lampman, and Heather Simeney MacLeod, among others. $50. (Barbarian Press)
Stories of Snow takes its title from a poem by P. K. Page. Its display type is Elysian, with ornaments printed in grey-blue and mauve, on Biblio mouldmade paper, with mauve wrappers handmade by David Carruthers at the Papeterie St-Armand in Montréal. There are poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Hardy, Archibald Lampman, and Heather Simeney MacLeod, among others. $50 CAD. (Barbarian Press)
Minerva, Mantone and Circes, by Giovanni Boccaccio, letterpress printed onto gloriously blue paper, set in Poliphilus type, and bound at the Press, Initials and head and tail-pieces from Charlotte Whittingham and Mary Byfield engraved in the 1840s and an appropriately lavish Monotype border. 36 (Incline Press)
Minerva, Mantone and Circes, by Giovanni Boccaccio, letterpress printed onto gloriously blue paper, set in Poliphilus type, and bound at the Press, Initials and head and tail-pieces from Charlotte Whittingham and Mary Byfield engraved in the 1840s and an appropriately lavish Monotype border. £36 (Incline Press)
'A Thrill of Pleasure', Poetry by William Wordsworth, Wood Engravings by Rosemary Roberts, Zerkall paper. A selection of poetry, taken from an early edition of the complete works, concentrating on the significance of the natural world as Wordsworth saw it. £50 post free in UK, p&p £4 overseas. (Celtic Cross Press).
‘A Thrill of Pleasure’, Poetry by William Wordsworth, Wood Engravings by Rosemary Roberts, Zerkall paper. A selection of poetry, taken from an early edition of the complete works, concentrating on the significance of the natural world as Wordsworth saw it. £50 post free in UK, p&p £4 overseas. (Celtic Cross Press).
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stephenson, With illustrations by Angela Barrett, Printed on Zerkall Ingres. 125 (Hand and Eye Letterpress)
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stephenson, With illustrations by Angela Barrett, Printed on Zerkall Ingres. £125 (Hand and Eye Letterpress)
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Long Live Great Bardfield, & Love to You All – The Autobiography of Tirzah Garwood, Bound in quarter patterned paper (designed by Tirzah) with a cloth spine and paper label, Fabriano Tiziano endpapers, £234 (The Fleece Press)
The Importance of Being Earnest, Hand set in Bembo roman, with stage directions composed in Fairbank italic by the Bixler letterfoundry. Printed on Somerset Book Soft White Wove. Quarter bound in burgundy velour with pattern-printed covers and Bugra endsheets. Ten engravings by Jarrett Morrison. $300 CAD. (Bowler Press)
The Importance of Being Earnest, Hand set in Bembo roman, with stage directions composed in Fairbank italic by the Bixler letterfoundry. Printed on Somerset Book Soft White Wove. Quarter bound in burgundy velour with pattern-printed covers and Bugra endsheets. Ten engravings by Jarrett Morrison. $300 CAD. (Bowler Press)
Stockholm Reflections, illustrations by Leslie Gerry, printed by letterpress on a pale-blue hand-made paper from the Velké Losiny mill in the Czech Republic, binding is quarter-cloth with the further illustrations by Leslie on the boards and it is presented in a solander box bound in a dark blue-grey cloth, £295 (The Old School Press)
Stockholm Reflections, illustrations by Leslie Gerry, printed by letterpress on a pale-blue hand-made paper from the Velké Losiny mill in the Czech Republic, binding is quarter-cloth with the further illustrations by Leslie on the boards and it is presented in a solander box bound in a dark blue-grey cloth, £295 (The Old School Press)
Norfolk Isle & the Chola Widow, by Herman Melville, Engravings by Rik Olson printed from original wood blocks, Letterpress printed on mould-made Rives Heavyweight, Artist designed patterned paper over boards, quarter bound in Japanese book cloth, $450, subscription discount available. (Nawakum Press)
Norfolk Isle & the Chola Widow, by Herman Melville, Engravings by Rik Olson printed from original wood blocks, Letterpress printed on mould-made Rives Heavyweight, Artist designed patterned paper over boards, quarter bound in Japanese book cloth, $450. (Nawakum Press)
Paris, written and illustrated by fashion designer Christopher Carroll, Text and images were printed letterpress at Peter Koch Printers, The text and images were printed on Hahnemühle Biblio, presswork from photopolymer-plates by Max Koch, chartreuse silk-over-flexible-board binding. $450 (Peter Koch Printers)
Paris, written and illustrated by fashion designer Christopher Carroll, Text and images were printed letterpress at Peter Koch Printers, The text and images were printed on Hahnemühle Biblio, presswork from photopolymer-plates by Max Koch, chartreuse silk-over-flexible-board binding. $450. (Peter Koch Printers)
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. A fine, letterpress limited edition with original art by maritime artist, Marc Castelli. Standard and Deluxe editions are available. Printed and designed by Chad Pastotnik and Jim Dissette for Chester River Press at Deep Wood Press. Beautifully quarter and full-bound in blue goatskin and real Cockerell paper. $500. (Chester River Press)
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. A fine, letterpress limited edition with original art by maritime artist, Marc Castelli. Standard and Deluxe editions are available. Printed and designed by Chad Pastotnik and Jim Dissette for Chester River Press at Deep Wood Press. Beautifully quarter and full-bound in blue goatskin and real Cockerell paper. $500. (Chester River Press)
Dialogue of the Dogs, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, printed letterpress on Magnani Revere paper and hand-bound at the Press. There are full-page scenes set in a three-dimensional diorama in the front and back covers of the book creating a box-like structure around the text. Within the text are additional drawings by Peggy Gotthold. $575, discount available for subscribing. (Foolscap Press)
Dialogue of the Dogs, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, printed letterpress on Magnani Revere paper and hand-bound at the Press. There are full-page scenes set in a three-dimensional diorama in the front and back covers of the book creating a box-like structure around the text. Within the text are additional drawings by Peggy Gotthold. $575, discount available for subscribing. (Foolscap Press)
Typographical Manual on the aesthetic of papers, watermarks and inks. Set by hand, printed on pure cotton Sicilian paper, many original specimens of inks, papers and watermarks are included.  600 (Alberto Tallone Editore)
Typographical Manual on the aesthetic of papers, watermarks and inks. Set by hand, printed on pure cotton Sicilian paper, many original specimens of inks, papers and watermarks are included. £600. (Alberto Tallone Editore)
Posters from the Whittington Press 1996-2012, bound in buckram and printed papers, coloured endpapers, containing 25 posters, all in a chemise with silk ties. £650 (Whittington Press)
Posters from the Whittington Press 1996-2012, bound in buckram and printed papers, coloured endpapers, containing 25 posters, all in a chemise with silk ties. £650. (Whittington Press)
The latest from Arion Press: Porgy & Bess, the libretto by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin, Sixteen original lithographs by Kara Walker, hand-sewn into each volume, letterpress on French mouldmade Johannot paper, binding has a red goatskin spine with stamped title and calico cloth over the boards. $1750, with 30% off if subscribing. (Arion Press)
The latest from Arion Press: Porgy & Bess, the libretto by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin, Sixteen original lithographs by Kara Walker, hand-sewn into each volume, letterpress on French mouldmade Johannot paper, binding has a red goatskin spine with stamped title and calico cloth over the boards. $1750, with 30% off if subscribing. (Arion Press)
Poems ~ Frank O’Hara ~ Introduction by Riva Castlman, Lithographs by Willem De Kooning. Printed on hand­-made ochre‑tinted Kitakata paper. Bound in black Nigerian goatskin. $3000 (Limited Editions Club)
Poems ~ Frank O’Hara ~ Introduction by Riva Castlman, Lithographs by Willem De Kooning. Printed on hand­-made ochre‑tinted Kitakata paper. Bound in black Nigerian goatskin. $3000. (Limited Editions Club)
Metamorphoses, by Ovid, Illustrations by Walter Bachinski. The type is hand-set Bembo, printed on 200 gsm Arches Cover. Each of the 15 stories begins with a photogravure of a drawing to illustrate the story, quarter bound in calfskin with Japanese Gampi paper over boards.
Metamorphoses, by Ovid, Illustrations by Walter Bachinski. The type is hand-set Bembo, printed on 200 gsm Arches Cover. Each of the 15 stories begins with a photogravure of a drawing to illustrate the story, quarter bound in calfskin with Japanese Gampi paper over boards. $3500. (Shanty Bay Press)

Other excellent options, sure to make book lovers smile without breaking the bank, include subscriptions to the essential Matrix from Whittington Press, or Parenthesis from the Fine Press Books Association. For Private press books no longer in print, Books and Vines lists a number of my favorite book sellers, all of which are a credit to the fine book ecosystem, by their fair prices and fantastic knowledge of the treasures they make available to us.

Many of you have fine books to give away. Please consider donations to schools or libraries that can take care of these fine works, while exposing many more people to the beauty and importance of fine press works. Those with time, consider doing presentations at a local university, school or club, where again the opportunity presents itself to expose many more people to the beauty and importance of fine press works. It is by exposing more and more people to this beauty, and helping them to understand why this craft, and the output from it, is important as a cultural link from previous to future generations, that will allow the private press eco-system to thrive. Happy Holidays and order away!!!

2 thoughts on “It’s the Holidays — Support the Fine Press Eco-System!

  1. I heartily second Chris’ thoughts regarding the need to support the wonderful private presses that are swimming against the electronic tide in the new millennium . Nearly all of these fine presses have a variety of choices for under $100 — wood engravings suitable for framing, small books of poetry, ephemera, etc., that make wonderful gifts —- hand crafted and hand printed items that will certainly be remembered long after the article of clothing, food item, or electronic widget du jour that you are/were thinking of giving disappears, falls out of fashion, or becomes outmoded by newer technology. A gift from a private press is delightfully retro and old-fashioned in the best sense —- it says something about you and indicates that time and thought were taken in selecting the appropriate private press gift for the fortunate recipient.

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