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

{Ed. Note: This first ran last holiday season, though it has been updated with current information and the latest news from fine press publishers.}

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!

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that, if you are planning on spending some money on holiday gifts, why not buck the trend of spending money on quickly outdated electronics from multi-billion dollar corporations and instead spend the money on finely done, never outdated, hand-made work from today’s private press printers?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). Many of these publishers accept payments over some months, if that helps you out. Whether you subscribe or not, here is just a small sample of many works to choose from this holiday season, combined with an update on what some of my favorite presses are up to (in alphabetical order by press name).

{Ed. Note: Note that most of the book descriptions in what follows have been pulled directly from the web sites of the fine presses, so much of the writing credit goes to them!}

Alberto Tallone Editore

Alberto Tallone Editore was the focus of a Books and Vines article sometime back, in which we looked at the storied history and great works they have published. They have a number of works available for purchase, a full list of which is here.

Their latest work is an anthology in Italian and English by renowned poet Alfredo De Palchi called 12 Poesie/12 Poems, which includes an original watercolor by Italian artist and illustrator Fulvio Testa, who took inspiration from his friend’s poems to paint an original work for every of the 90 copies of the edition (Testa has had many exhibitions in the United States and Europe, and so may be familiar to many here). The twelve poems span De Palchi‘s lifetime, covering the decades from the late forties to the current in chronological order. To underline the time factor, the colophon is hourglass shaped, as shown here.

12 Poems, Colophon
12 Poems, Colophon
12 Poems, Title Page and Sample Watercolor
12 Poems, Title Page and Sample Watercolor

The cost is 900€.  The edition is limited to 90 copies. Please contact Alberto Tallone Publisher-Printer here.

Prior to 12 Poesie/12 Poems, Alberto Tallone Editore published Manuale Tipografico III, dedicated to the aesthetics of papers, watermarks and inks; all copies of the Manuale include papers of every century from the 16th to nowadays and original watermarks and typographic inks of the 20th century. The volume, in the 4to format, includes more than a hundred original specimens of ancient papers, watermarks and inks, inserted in custom made frames, whose number is higher in the deluxe copies. Interposed with the specimens, there are 14 inedited texts for a complex of 122 text-pages, which are entirely set by hand in 12 point Tallone types, designed by Alberto Tallone and cut by Charles Malin in Paris. Limited and numbered print run of 300 copies on white Sicilian paper of pure cotton, made expressly for this edition (€ 600) – which contains more than a hundred and ten original specimens of papers, watermarks and inks –, and a few deluxe copies richer in original papers and watermarks from the 15th century onwards, printed on both pure-cotton Sicilian paper and pure-cotton hand-made papers made in Fabriano and in Tuscany (details on request). It took ages to find and collect all these original sheets of papers! Look for a review of the Manuale in Matrix – A review for printers and bibliophiles, n. 32, written by John Randle.

Here are some examples of original watermarks:

The Snake of Milan, made in Lombardia, 16th century
The Snake of Milan, made in Lombardia, 16th century
The Capuchin Monk, made in Caselle Torinese, 18th century
The Capuchin Monk, made in Caselle Torinese, 18th century

Arion Press

Arion Press just released What the End is For, poetry of Jorie Graham, introduced by Helen Vendler, with 16 prints by artist Julian Lethbridge. I will have a review up on this edition in the next two weeks, but suffice to say it is very nicely done, a reasonably  large edition at 11 by 9 inches, 238 pages. The binding is pretty and distinct, in full violet cloth with titling in black. While abstract art is usually not my thing, this work by Mr. Lethbridge is very attractive and I look forward to analyzing his work in context of reading the poems. The type is Stymie, in 12 point for the poems, 10 point for the introduction and subsidiary material, composed and cast by Mackenzie & Harris in Monotype. The paper is mould-made, from the Magnani mill in Italy, 190-gram weight. The edition of the book is limited to 300 numbered copies.  The cost is $850 (for non-subscribers, 30% off for subscribers).

What the End is For, poetry of Jorie Graham, introduced by Helen Vendler, with 16 prints by artist Julian Lethbridge, Arion Press
What the End is For, poetry of Jorie Graham, introduced by Helen Vendler, with 16 prints by artist Julian Lethbridge, Arion Press

Most of you are aware of Arion’s edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, which Books and Vines reviewed here. However, if you snoozed you lost, as it is sold out! However, upcoming works are very exciting! This includes The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, with illustrations; Lulu, the libretto of the opera by Alban Berg, based on the plays by Frank Wedekind, with prints by artist William Kentridge. Also, one I am particularly anxious for, a Bibliography of Arion’s first 100 works. With a significant 30% discount for subscribing, now may be the time to consider doing so!

I should also mention that Arion Press has previous editions available for a number of titles that would make excellent Christmas presents. This includes The Holy Bible, Animal Farm, Paradise Lost, Tartuffe, Emily Dickinson’s Sampler, Tono-BungayDon QuixoteSapphoThe MoonstonePorgy & Bess and others (the full list is here, and remember subscribers get 30% off these titles also!).

Porgy & Bess, Arion Press, Spine and Covers
Porgy & Bess, Arion Press, Spine and Covers

Barbarian Press

Crispin and Jan Elsted are working on Ingoldsby Legendsan exciting and well anticipated new edition of this Victorian classic to be released in spring of 2015. It can be pre-ordered now. I have!  For those not familiar with Ingoldsby, Barbarian Press tells us:

In 1837 the first number of ‘Bentley’s Miscellany’ appeared, published by Richard Bentley and edited by Charles Dickens. As well as the first installment of the editor’s ‘Oliver Twist’, it also featured the first of a series of ‘metrical tales’ – stories in verse – published under the name of Thomas Ingoldsby. As the Miscellany continued to appear, so did these grotesque and fantastical (and increasingly popular) narrative poems. Drawing upon myths and legends, which they parodied, and often using the more macabre conventions of fairy tales and ghost stories, they became so much in demand that Richard Bentley published three separate volumes of them in the following years. They have remained in print ever since.

As for the illustrations, Barbarian Press writes:

The edition provides a selection – or ‘gallimaufry’ as the Victorians might have termed it – of eight of these poems. Six of them have been chosen to accompany six of the original wood engravings by the Dalziel Brothers, but two (‘The Jackdaw of Rheims’ and ‘The Legend of Hamilton Tighe’) are included because they were among the most popular of the collection. We are inclined to think that the illustrations, engraved by the Dalziels in the 1860s or early 1870s, are by John Lewis Roget, son of the Roget of Thesaurus fame and a noted British painter and illustrator of the time: the initials ‘JLR’ are carefully engraved by the Dalziels into each of the blocks. The images may have been omitted for some reason from the 1864 edition published by Richard Bentley, which was illustrated by John Tenniel, John Leech (the original illustrator of A Christmas Carol), and George Cruickshank, all of whose drawings were transferred onto wood by the Dalziels. Roget’s illustrations (if it was he) may have been considered for this edition as well and not used, but this is only speculation. The images, with one exception, are apparently unpublished, and this edition will therefore represent their introduction to the world. The blocks were  donated to the library at Massey College, University of Toronto from his own collection by the late Robertson Davies, and we are deeply grateful to Brian Maloney and P. J. MacDougall of the Robertson Davies Library at Massey College for lending them to us.

The illustrations in both states will be printed from the original blocks. The books will be bound by Alanna Simenson of Mad Hatter Bookbinding.

Ingoldsby Legends will be published in an edition of 90 copies. Of these, 50 will constitute the Standard Edition, and 40 copies the Deluxe, as follows.

  • Deluxe State: 40 copies, numbered. Hand-set in Poliphilus and Blado with unidentified Victorian initials and Goudy Thirty for display, and printed on Heine mouldmade paper, with the engravings tipped in on Zerkall Smooth Cream. Quarter calf with patterned paper from ornaments over boards, slipcased with an accompanying portfolio containing strikes of all the engravings, including one not used in the book and a titling block too large to be used.
    Price: C$750.00
  • Standard State: 50 copies. As the Deluxe state, but quarter cloth with patterned paper, and not slipcased.
    Price: C$525.00

For an immediate Christmas gift, I suggest taking a good look at the outstanding Endgrain Editions Four: Simon Brett – an Engraver’s Progress, which Books and Vines reviewed here.   Only two deluxe copies remain at the time of this writing, so hurry up!  There are still a number of copies of the standard edition available, though as with the previous EE’s, they do sell out quickly and then rarely make the secondary market.

Simon Brett, an Engraver's Progress, Frontispiece and Title Page
Simon Brett, an Engraver’s Progress, Frontispiece and Title Page

Next year, the Press will also publish The Splendour of a Morning, a collection of C. P. Cavafy’s poems, translated by David Smulders, and illustrated with three engravings by Peter Lazarov.

With the three editions and more excellent work in the plans, you may want to think about subscribing, which entitles you to a significant 30% discount.

Deep Wood Press

Chad Pastotnik’s current project is Franz Kafka’s short story The Hunter Gracchus. Mr. Pastotnik has been looking forward to doing this work for a couple decades now. He has secured the services of German-English literary translator, Jamie Lee Searle, to produce a new version for this edition. Mr. Pastotnik will be illustrating with intaglio prints. Currently the edition is to be set at around 60 books. Look for this work sometime in 2015. I cannot wait!

Unfortunately, the brilliant Heart of Darkness edition has sold out (though there may be one deluxe version left). However, there are a number of books and broadsides in print, all of which make great gifts at excellent price points (see here for the full list).   This includes The Mad Angler Poems, by Michael Delp, illustrated with 5 hand colored wood engravings by Chad Pastotnik and an introduction by Jack Driscoll. The regular edition is quarter-bound in heavy board in a brown Harmatan Moroccan goat with a cotton/linen Asahi book cloth. Gold title on spine with a varnished panel on the cover cloth overprinted with the brown drake fly wood engraving and Mocha Hahnemuhle Bugra flyleaves back up the book blocks which are hand sewn on straps. The book is composed in 11 pt  Janson with Garamond in display sizes and printed in 2 colors on Magnani Revere cotton 120gsm paper. 8 7/8 x 6 7/8 x 1/2 inches, 33 pages. Edition of 71 books, the first 10 are reserved for the deluxe edition. The standard edition is $350.

Regular edition of The Mad Angler Poems
Regular edition of The Mad Angler Poems

Another excellent gift idea is Saturnalia, a poem by H.P. Lovecraft regarding a holiday for the Feast of Saturn in ancient Rome which traditionally begins around December 15th. The book includes beautiful bits of verse suitable for the holidays or any time of year and is a very nice example of Howard Phillip Lovecraft’s early poetry. Handset in 14pt Freehand type with Menu Shaded on the title page and printed on Hahnemuhle Schiller paper from Germany. Original collagraph image and border design by Chad Pastotnik. Pamphlet stitched with 450gsm (heavy) Twinrocker Micah Rose covers, a heavy Arches Black spine, printed washi eastern pattern flyleaves and silver foil stamped title on the cover. Second edition of 60 copies, $30.

Saturnalia, Deep Wood Press
Saturnalia, Deep Wood Press

The Fleece Press

Simon Lawrence’s The Fleece Press has a number of excellent works available for purchase, including three recently published books, which follow.  All are quite special. Mr. Lawrence has an outstanding offer, £475 for all three, post free in the UK, £25 extra for US postage.

Edward Walters, printer & engraver with short essays on him by his son Tom Walters, on him as a teacher by Richard Russell, and a full bibliography by John Gray. 50 wood engravings printed from the blocks, 110 pages, letterpress text with extra illustrations inserted, and 15 tipped in illustrations. Quarter cloth and a patterned paper, 225 copies, £192. See here for more details.
Edward Walters, printer-engraver, The Fleece Press
Edward Walters, printer-engraver, The Fleece Press
Transferware Treasures is an accordion-fold book extending to 25 feet, showing paintings of 19th century transfer-printed pottery, by artist Emily Sutton, housed in a slipcase. 250 copies, about ten inches square, £165. See here for more details.
Transferware Treasures 25 watercolour paintings of nineteenth century pottery by Emily Sutton, The Fleece Press
Transferware Treasures
25 watercolour paintings of nineteenth century pottery by Emily Sutton, The Fleece Press
Mr Kilburn’s Calicos is the story of a pattern book for calico printing designs made by William Kilburn, dated 1800. It survived because it was subsequently used by a great grandson for pasting in childish scraps. Letterpress introduction, 300 copies housed in a solander box with an extra booklet of fully-made-up patterns based on the units in the pattern book. The book was featured over 5 full pages in the October issue of World of Interiors. £175. See here for more details.
Mr Kilburn's Calicos, The Fleece Press
Mr Kilburn’s Calicos, The Fleece Press

Foolscap Press

Larry Lawrence Van Velzer and Peggy Gotthold of Foolscap Press are hard at work on ‘The Fisherman and the Demon‘ from the Arabian Nights. This book will have a panorama of drawings which will have color added by pochoir and sketches from artist Brian Bowes. They are hoping to have this available around the time of CODEX 5 in early 2015.

They are also aiming to have a second new publication at around the same time next year.  It is a collaboration with calligrapher Thomas Ingmire and British poet David Annwn on a book called The St. John’s Fragment Against the Odds. The poem was made in response to St. John’s Fragment, an amazing small piece of papyrus held at the Rylands Library at the University of Manchester. It is dated from between 100 CE and 150 CE and is generally accepted as the earliest extant record of a canonical New Testament text. Mr. Ingmire has recreated the shape and text of the fragment in English and Greek.

Foolscap is also working on a commission book right now. It is the story Rashomon, paired with eleven etchings by Charles Ginnever who is primarily a sculptor. Ms. Gotthold described it:

The series of etchings are of several sculptures that are identical but can be turned or displayed in completely different ways. By turning them, these sculptures appear to be different sculptures entirely, and really make the viewer question their perceptions and assumptions. These images are an echo of the various narratives in the story which all tell of one event, but from different voices that seem to contradict each other. It will be bound in a Japanese style.

While we wait for these exciting new publications, there is plenty to choose from for your Christmas shopping. See a full list here. One of my favorites are Dialogue of the Dogs by Miguel de Cervantes, which just may be the coolest book I have in my collection! Dialogue of the Dogs is published in an edition of 100 copies of which 90 numbered copies are for sale. The book is 52 pages and measures 9 1/4 tall x 11 1/2 inches wide and is 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. The price is $575.00. See here for the Books and Vines review of this edition.

Dialogue of the Dogs, Foolscap Press, Back Diorama
Dialogue of the Dogs, Foolscap Press, Back Diorama

Another favorite of mine is Phisicke Against Fortune by Francesco Petrarca, with woodcuts by Hans Weiditz, one of the great German 16th-century book illustrators. Limited to 175 copies, each book measures 12 x 9 inches and consists of 160 pages printed letterpress on Lana Royal, a mould-made paper from France. The text was set in Monotype as well as handset type using Poliphilus, Bembo Italic and Forum, with Calligraph Initials printed in red. 135 copies are hand-sewn and the rounded spine is covered in red Japanese cloth and is stamped in gold. Printed paper sides cover the boards. 40 copies are specially bound in quarter goatskin and red Japanese cloth and come in a slipcase covered in cloth and printed paper sides. The price is $285. The 40 copies bound in quarter leather with slipcase are $400. See here for the Books and Vines review of this edition.

Phisicke Against Fortune, Sample Pages
Phisicke Against Fortune, Sample Pages

There are other outstanding items for yourself or gift consideration. A Dog’s Life in Letters, an alphabet book with linoleum cuts. There are 200 numbered copies. The book is 64 pages and measures 6 5/8 inches tall x 5 1/8 inches wide and is printed letterpress on Curtis Holcomb Cream text and hand-bound at the Press. The poems are by Lawrence G. Van Velzer and the linoleum cut illustrations are by Peggy Gotthold. The price is $120.00.

Tower of the Winds is a scroll book which traces the history of an amazing tower in Athens (1st C. B.C.) that still stands. It is illustrated from 18th-century engravings. The scroll measures an astounding 11 inches by 25 feet in length! The papers are Zerkall Book and hand-made papyrus from Egypt. The typeface is Adobe Herculanum printed letterpress on a Hacker Hand Press. The scroll cases were produced at the press from dyed, hand-shaped Arches paper. Each case is a rigid cylinder that is hinged with cloth and is lined with a map of ancient Athens. The edition is limited to 200 numbered copies. $325.  What a unique item!

Herakles and the Eurystheusian Twelve-Step Program is done in a very interesting binding with many illustrations. Written by Larry Lawrence Van Velzer and illustrated by Peggy Gotthold. It is printed on Curtis Holcomb text and Hahmemuhle Bugra, 51 pages, 6 x 11 1/4″ in size. It is limited to 110 copies and is $395.

For a really elaborate gift, there is Other Worlds: Journey to the Moon by Cyrano de Bergerac and eight original etchings by Leslie Lerner. The book is printed letterpress on Hahnemühle Bugra. The direct-gravure etchings are printed on 300 gram Pescia. In this unusual binding “half pages” are opened revealing an etching in nearly every section of the book. The book measures 9 x 11 1/4 inches, bound in quarter goat skin leather and is housed in a custom made box. The edition is limited to 120 numbered copies and the price is $2,300.
Other Worlds: Journey to the Moon, Foolscap Press
Other Worlds: Journey to the Moon, Foolscap Press
Lastly, For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn is Hemingway’s apocryphal six-word short story. Foolscap allowed each writer (3 women, 3 men) six pages to tell a story using this title, and amazing stories they are, especially noting the differences between the men and women. It is published in a limited edition of 200 numbered copies of which 140 copies are for sale. The book is printed letterpress on Frankfurt Cream text paper using hand-set Garamond type. The book measures 15″ by 13″ and consists of 60 unpaginated pages. Each story is signed by the author and has its own title page decorated with collaged prints of pairs of shoes by Peggy Gotthold on Kitakata paper. The book is bound in Japanese cloth and is sewn onto a modified accordion structure designed so that each story is presented individually. The price is $550.00.

Hand and Eye Editions

According to proprietor Phil Abel, their wonderful Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde  (reviewed here by Books and Vines) is now out of print. However, they still do have some copies of the standard edition of Ian Beck‘s Fugitive Lyrics at the very reasonable price of £75.00. Books and Vines reviewed that edition here. The illustrations are printed from line blocks made from Mr. Beck’s ink drawings; they were printed separately from the type. The text is 12 point Monotype Garamond machine-set by Gloucester Typesetting Services and by Hand & Eye; Headings are hand-set Monotype Old English Text. The paper is Somerset Book Soft White 175 gsm. The book is bound by hand by Hannah Byles with a cover paper of Colorplan Baghdad Brown 135 gsm with labels printed on the text paper; the specials were covered in a brown book cloth with a linen finish to match the description in EF Benson’s text. The edition is limited to 100 copies, 25 of which deluxe bound in linen and hand-colored.

Fugitive Lyrics, Hand & Eye Letterpress, Cover (Standard Edition)
Fugitive Lyrics, Hand & Eye Letterpress, Cover (Standard Edition)

An exciting announcement: Mr. Abel’s next publication will be Charles DickensA Christmas Carol, illustrated by Angela Barrett (who also illustrated their Jekyll and Hyde). It is planned for publication in autumn 2015. Another one that I cannot wait for!

Incline Press

The ever busy Graham Moss has two new books just being released, both would make excellent additions to your own library, or as thoughtful gifts to others. The first is Layers of Concord by Carole George; she came back to Virginia from working in France, imbued with desire to build a landscape garden, based on the work of the great 18th-century French garden designers. She eventually found the plot of land she needed to see the project through, and the book is the story of the enterprise – a journey following the heart’s desire. Introduction is by Reuben M Rainey of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, illustrated with photographs of the garden taken by Eduardo Galliani, and embellished with an engraved cartouche by Abigail Rorer at the head of each chapter, and a folded map of the garden tipped in, printed from Ms. Rorer’s pen drawing. Set in 16pt Centaur type, printed on 170gsm Zerkall paper, slip-cased, bound in-house, edition of 170 numbered copies, a bit over 13 inches tall and ten wide. Price is $265, postage from UK included.

The second soon to be released publication is The Long Journey, a book of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson. The core of the book is the nine poems that Ralph Vaughan Williams set to music, as sung by the Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel on The Vagabond CD (issued by Deutsche Gramafon), to which Mr. Moss added poems chosen from all that Stevenson published, so the book begins with songs of childhood from his Child’s Garden of Verses, and ends naturally enough with the epitaph he wrote that is engraved on his tomb, and on that long journey the poems looks at success, growth and friendship, as well as poverty’s knock. It’s illustrated with two-colour wood engravings by Robin Mackenzie; his first book, but it won’t be his last as far as Incline Press is concerned, and they are already discussing what they might collaborate on in the future. Set in 16pt Lutetia and again on Zerkall 160gsm paper, bound in-house using the last of a Curwen Press patterned paper designed in the late 1940s by Sarah Nechemkin, edition total of 175 copies, about eleven inches tall and seven wide. There is a Special of forty copies that include a portfolio of black prints of the wood engravings. Regular edition is $90 and the Special is $160, post inclusive.

Mr. Moss has many other excellent works to consider. It is amazing the output from Mr. Moss, especially considering the superb quality. See this review from Books and Vines for a sampling of his works, many of which are available. Here are a couple examples:

Published just a few months back is Randall Davies’ Books of Nonsense.  The book was printed on mould-made Wookey Hole paper rescued by John Foreman and identified by John Purcell. In addition to the introduction, the book is 140 illustrated pages, 9 x 7.7 inches. The edition is printed in two parts: 150 copies were printed on a lovely mint green and bound in house in a patterned paper designed by Meg Held and printed at the Press. An additional 150 copies, printed on a pale grey paper (below), have been reserved for binders.  At £75, this is a steal!

Randall Davies and his Books of Nonsense, Incline Press
Randall Davies and his Books of Nonsense, Incline Press

The fantastic Steel Horizon, Poems of the North Sea by Jonathan Wonham with linocuts by Nick Wonham is still available. The 52 pages of Steel Horizon include 29 poems and 10 full-page linocuts. It was hand set in Lectura and printed on Magnani Avorio paper. Hand sewn and hard-bound, the front board is covered in a grey paper printed with one of Nick’s two-colour linocuts. A two-colour vignette is printed on the back. It has a cloth spine. At £78, another excellent deal.

Steel Horizon, Incline Press, Sample Illustration
Steel Horizon, Incline Press, Sample Illustration

The New Year Book from Incline Press this year will be a new translation of one of Hans Fallada’s children’s stories, a nice little 20-pager. The type is being handset already, and the paper should be in hand of Mr. Moss by the end of the month. Be sure to ask him about this and contact him to place an order!

Limited Editions Club

Jeanne Shiff has always been absolutely wonderful to Books and Vines. I am thrilled to have met her a number of times, and to have all the editions of what Limited Editions Club (LEC) collectors call “the Shiff era” — an LEC era in which livres d’artist was the focus, and all works were done with the absolute best materials by the absolute best craftsmen and artists. Any of these books are the centerpiece of any room they happen to be in, as the grand style (and often grand size) draw wonderment and exclamations of oohs and ahhs.

Ms. Shiff has a number of books available, a complete list of which is here. These are heirlooms, true works of art!  Here are a few examples, all of which are available.

Poems of Frank O’Hara with an Introduction by Riva Castlman and lithographs by Willem De Kooning. Seventeen of de Kooning’s charcoal drawings are reproduced here for the first time as originally intended‑-with their subtle strokes and wide tonal range. De Kooning’s drawings were transferred from their original mylar sheets to lithographic plates and printed on hand­-made ochre‑tinted Kitakata paper. Each print was torn by hand and pressed into the book’s pages by the intaglio method. The thirteen poems begin with O’Hara’s Ode to Willem de Kooning.  This is a huge volume at 17-3/4″ x 22″! Bound in black Nigerian goatskin, the book is set in a black fabric covered and lined case. It is limited to 550 copies and  sells for $3,000. A review from Books and Vines is here.

Poems of Frank O’Hara, Sample Text Page with Illustration
Poems of Frank O’Hara, Sample Text Page with Illustration

Sight and Touch by Octavio Paz with color woodcut prints by the great artist Balthus. What a stunning work of art this is!  The poem is presented in the original Spanish, in English and in French. It is very large at 22-1/2” x 23-1/2, and contains three color woodcut prints by Balthus. The three Balthus paintings have been turned into multicolor woodcuts by Keiji Shinohara and printed on Kozo Uwazen paper made by hand in Japan. The text is set in a Monotype version of Lutetia–sharp and brilliant in cut, crisp and contemporary in feeling. The boards are covered with pure linen on the sides, overlapped on the spine with Nigerian oasis goatskin. Set in a linen covered and lined case. The edition limited to three hundred numbered copies, with each book signed by Balthus and Octavio Paz. It sells for $2700. A review from Books and Vines is here.

Letter From Birmingham City Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. with eight serigraph prints by Faith Ringgold, and an afterword by Dr. C. T. Vivian.  Another large size book at 14-1/2” x 12-1/4”, it is stunning! Printed letterpress on handmade paper, this edition is limited to 420 numbered copies. The prints were edtitioned by Curlee Holton at his studio in Easton, Pennsylvania. The book is hand bound in red linen, with the same fabric covering its hinged and lined case. The edition limited to four hundred twenty numbered copies with each signed by Faith Ringgold. It sells for $5,000.

Letter From Birmingham City Jail ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~ Eight Serigraph Prints by Faith Ringgold, Afterword by Dr. C. T. Vivian
Letter From Birmingham City Jail ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~ Eight Serigraph Prints by Faith Ringgold, Afterword by Dr. C. T. Vivian

The Revelation of Saint John the Divine by John of Patmos with fifteen relief engravings by Allan Rohan Crite. The volume clocks in at 16″ x 22”. Mr. Crite’s relief engravings were printed on Japanese paper and mounted on heavy paper handmade in Pescia Italy. Typographical design is by Dan Carr, who drew the verse numerals and cast them by hand into punches for typesetting. The volume is hand bound in burgundy linen. The hinged box, covered in black Italian cotton, is inset with Nigerian goatskin bearing the title stamped in 22‑karat gold. The edition limited to four hundred numbered copies with each signed by Allan Rohan Crite. It sells for $1500. A review from Books and Vines is here.

The Revelation of Saint John the Divine, John of Patmos, Engravings by Allan Rohan Crite
The Revelation of Saint John the Divine, John of Patmos, Engravings by Allan Rohan Crite

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë with fifteen lithographs and an afterword by Balthus.  The volume size is 12-3/4” x 16-1/2”. The Balthus drawings have been turned into lithographic plates and printed, in brown‑toned black ink, on fine Japanese paper by Bruce Porter at his Trestle Editions in New York City.  They were mounted on mould made paper from the Arches mill, in Epinal, France.  The text was also printed on this paper, uniquely watermarked with the coat of arms of the family Klossowski de Rola.  The book is bound in Nigerian goatskin dyed gray-green to suggest the Yorkshire moors. Linen covered and lined case. The edition limited to three hundred numbered copies with each book signed by Balthus. The price is $4800. A review from Books and Vines is here.

Withering Heights, Balthus
Withering Heights, Balthus

Sunrise Is Coming After While by Langston Hughes with six color silkscreen prints by Phoebe Beasley with an introduction and afterword by Maya Angelou.  Maya Angelou selected the poems and the artist, as well as wrote the introduction and the afterword! This is another grand LEC production at 16” x 21”.  The binding is purple cotton and the book and prints come a hinged and lined black cotton covered box. The edition limited to three hundred numbered copies with each book signed by Maya Angelou and Phoebe Beasley. The price is $1500.

Sunrise Is Coming After While ~ Langston Hughes ~ Six Color Silkscreen Prints by Phoebe Beasley with Introduction and Afterword by Maya Angelou
Sunrise Is Coming After While ~ Langston Hughes ~ Six Color Silkscreen Prints by Phoebe Beasley with Introduction and Afterword by Maya Angelou

If you search on Books and Vines you will find reviews of most of the Shiff-era LEC’s. Please contact Ms. Shiff directly with interest or questions, from which you may also discover some excellent holiday specials for Books and Vines readers, including on the works mentioned above!

Nawakum Press

David Pascoe’s Nawakum Press is producing some of the greatest fine press books today. Their work just keeps getting better and better! Limitations are very small, so if you see something you like, I suggest moving quick!  Here is a complete list of their works. Among my favorites are:

The Book of Sand, by Jorge Luis Borges. What a beautiful piece of book art! Designed in an artists’ book format, in collaboration with Peggy Gotthold and Lawrence G. Van Velzer of Foolscap Press, the Nawakum Press edition of The Book of Sand was printed and bound at their press in Santa Cruz, California. Artist and printmaker Thomas Wood of Bellingham, Washington was commissioned to create the etchings for this bilingual limited edition. In Spanish and in English, the text is letterpress printed on Curtis Holcomb Text and handmade Cave Paper from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Garamond types were cast by Michael and Winifred Bixler of Skanaeteles, New York. Copper relief etchings, mirroring the style noted in the story, are designed into the text and printed from the copper plates on blocks mounted type high. They are accompanied by two large copper etchings printed by the artist, recessed into boards covered with Japanese book cloth and with a Cave Paper overleaf. The peak roofed book, taking inspiration from the Biblioteca National, measures 11″ x 13-1/2″ and is housed in a covered box made from Cave Paper over boards. The cover label is letterpress printed on Cave Paper and inset with Japanese book cloth. The edition is numbered 1-24, with six lettered copies reserved for the Press. Each copy is signed by the artist. Call for availability. You can see a Books and Vines review of it here.

The Book of Sand, Nawakum Press, Book inside Covered Box
The Book of Sand, Nawakum Press, Book inside Covered Box

Outside, by Barry Lopez, Illustrations by Barry Moser, reviewed here by Books and Vines. Thirty-five copies, in a rounded and backed lap-case binding. The spine is rust Asahi book cloth and the sides are marbled papers commissioned from Pam Smith of Abiquiu, New Mexico. The book is housed in a slipcase, two tone black and rust Ashai book cloth and printed paper label on the closed side. Numbered 1-28 and signed on the colophon page by the author and artist. $2200.

Outside, Nawakum Press, Spine, Cover & Slipcase (Standard)
Outside, Nawakum Press, Spine, Cover & Slipcase (Standard)

Loom, a poem by Alan Loney with wood engravings by Richard Wagener.  Loom is cast in lead, printed from endgrain blocks, hand-bound, and printed letterpress by Patrick Reagh on hand-made paper. The binding is hand sewn on linen tapes and laced into a limp paper case made of Handmade PC4 Blue from Timothy Barrett at the University of Iowa Center for the Book. The book is housed in a Japanese cloth covered slipcase with a printed label on the spine. Each book is foil stamped on the spine, signed by the artist and poet, and numbered 1-30. Price is $940.

Loom, Book and Slipcase
Loom, Book and Slipcase

Nawakum’s wonderful edition of Herman Melville‘s Norfolk Isle and the Chola Widow is also still available. You can see a Books and Vines review of it here. This edition contains original, commissioned wood engravings by Rik Olson, California illustrator and fine artist. It is letterpress printed on Rives Heavyweight with engravings printed from original wood blocks. Artist designed patterned paper over boards, quarter bound in Japanese book cloth and housed in a slipcase. The books are numbered and signed by the artist. $450.

The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Frontispiece and Title Page
The Chola Widow, The Nawakum Press, Frontispiece and Title Page

Coming in 2015 is a very exciting new publication. Encheiresin Naturae,”One heroic crown of sonnets” by Irish poet Paul Muldoon, professor at Princeton University, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and Poetry Editor of The New Yorker magazine, with fifteen abstract engravings by the great American artist/illustrator Barry Moser. Mr. Pascoe tell us:

In Encheiresin Naturae each of Muldoon’s sonnets is paired opposite a Moser engraving, which has been printed directly from the block. These new non-representational images mark a major departure in the engraver’s work. Moser was trained early on as an abstract painter in the halcyon days of the Abstract Expressionists, and these engravings are, in a manner, a return to beginnings. Jasper Johns refers to them as “terrific and surprising.” This stunning edition is large format, 14: x 18 1/4″ and runs 76 pages.

Books and Vines will be sure to let you know in News when more information on availability is announced.

The Old School Press

Martin Ould has a number of fine works available presently as he works on the first volume of ‘Printing at the University Press, Oxford 1660-1780‘ due out in 2015. See here for a full list of works available, many at very affordable price points.

Venice Approached is their most recent title and it is in print.  The text is taken from John Ruskin’s classic work The Stones of Venice. The hand-set text is in 14pt Hunt Roman and printed on a pale blue Hodgkinson hand-made paper, making a single section of 16 pages sewn into a simple case. To cover the boards Mr. Ould decided to use up a number of oddments from his plan chest: four patterned sheets hand-blocked by Alberto Valese in Venice cover eight cases (they were left over from the original 1992 edition), and twenty-five overs of marbled papers that Ann Muir made for me over the years for various projects make another fifty. So, just fifty-eight copies. The eight copies in Valese papers are not for sale, but the others are £60 (euro90, US$120) each.

Venice Approached, bindings in beautiful Anne Muir marbled paper.
Venice Approached, bindings in beautiful Anne Muir marbled paper.

Another fairly recent publication is Stockholm Reflections, which contains “modern and ancient responses to the vibrant Stockholm waterfront, with digital images by Leslie Gerry.”  Mr. Gerry’s eleven images occupy a landscape sheet 370mm tall by 560mm wide (that’s about 14.5 inches by 22 inches) and they are compiled as a concertina-fold book, with a further illustration on the title page and two more on the front and back covers of the book. His illustrations are very much his personal response to the beauty of the place, to the colour and vibrancy imparted by the boats, the buildings, the sky and the water. His pleasure on first coming across the area echoes that of those who found their way to Stockholm in the eighteenth century and so to accompany the images we have printed extracts from travel books from as early as 1720.

Putting letterpress text together with giclée digital images has become quite a habit at The Old School Press; according to Mr. Ould, the two techniques are unrivaled for quality and he has no doubt that Caxton would have preferred giclée to woodcuts if he could have! So once again, expect clean letterpress from freshly-cast type combined with brilliantly rendered colour in a novel binding.  The text occupies an eight-page section printed by letterpress on a pale-blue hand-made paper from the Velké Losiny mill in the Czech Republic. The choice of typeface is also new departure for The Old School Press: Eric Gill’s Joanna in the 14pt size, with headings in variations of Gill Sans. The book’s 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. The edition is just 95 copies, priced at £295 (euro370, US$490) each.

Stockholm Reflections, Book in Solander
Stockholm Reflections, Book in Solander

The Old Stile Press

Frances and Nicolas McDowell of The Old Stile Press have been producing fine books for quite some time! As such, they have quite a selection for you to choose from (here is the full list), including:

There latest publication is A Song about myself, a delightful poem by John Keats. It is letterpress printed calligraphy by Andy Moore.  The paper is Vélin Arches. The original calligraphy was created in two colors and printed letterpress from photopolymer plates. The book is case bound at The Fine Bookbindery with a loose paper wrapper printed with a calligraphic design. The main edition consists of 138 copies, numbered and signed by the artist, for £145. There is a special edition also, which consists of a copy of the book placed in a velvet lined drop back box together with a portfolio in which there is an original piece of Andy Moore’s calligraphy on handmade paper and the original four pieces of artwork for a double page spread in the book. The special edition is £650.

A Song about myself, John Keats, The Old Stile Press
A Song about myself, John Keats, The Old Stile Press

A Christmas Sequence would be a uniquely special for the holidays, as would Eleanor’s Adventwhich  can be read as a picture book of days leading up to Christmas — but hidden within are poems by Kevin Crossley-Holland (a considerable scholar and storyteller as well as a poet). At £50, this is a very nice deal! Another that is well worth calling out in consideration is The Third Thing, which is a selection of poems with Japanese woodblock imagery by Ralph Kiggell. This edition has been shortlisted for the British Book Production Award in the fine press and limited edition section (winners to be announced on 20 November).

The Third Thing, woodcut images by Ralph Kiggell, The Old Stile Press
The Third Thing, woodcut images by Ralph Kiggell, The Old Stile Press

Peter Koch, Printers

The big news from Peter Koch is that the up-coming CODEX 5 is shaping up to be the biggest-best one ever! CODEX V is February 8-11, 2015 at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California. CODEX is the largest Book Fair of its kind in the United States, and is proud to be a part of Rare Book Week West. Over 180 of the world’s best book artists and fine press printers will be exhibiting their spectacular works at the CODEX V Book Fair. The Public is encouraged to attend. Entry tickets are sold at the door: $5 students, $10 general, $30 multi-day.

Author Alberto Manguel will be the Keynote speaker at the Symposium. There are only a FEW seats left at the Symposium, so if interested you should sign up very soon! Go here to register, which must be done in advance.

For more information on all of the bookish events happening Feb. 5-11th, 2015, go to

Mr. Koch has many titles available from his collection of fine works. See here for a complete list, which includes the recently reviewed Paris by Christopher Carroll and I’ll Die Tomorrow by Mickey Spillane. Many of his other titles were reviewed by Books and Vines here, here and here. All would be fantastic gifts!

Paris, Peter Koch Printers, Spine and Cover
Paris, Peter Koch Printers, Spine and Cover

Rampant Lions Press

I have been lucky enough recently to have picked up a few books from Sebastian Carter’s historic Rampant Lions Press. While the Press is no longer producing new works, they do have a handful of works available for order (see here for a complete list). A couple in particular I will point out include:

Books and Vines recently reviewed The Psalms of David and found it one of the best values I have seen in the fine press world. £175 is not inexpensive, but it is a steal for the quality of this work. Miles Coverdale’s translation is used (as used in the Book of Common Prayer). It is hand-set in Eric Gill’s Golden Cockerel Roman – the first use of the type at the Rampant Lions Press – and printed on J Green mould-made paper. Bound by George Miller.  The book is limited to 280 copies in quarter vellum with specially designed patterned paper boards. What better gift than The Psalms?

The Psalms of David, Rampant Lions Press, Book in Custom Slipcase
The Psalms of David, Rampant Lions Press, Book in Custom Slipcase

Also available is Honoré de Balzac‘s The Unknown Masterpiece, in a new translation by Peter Raby and with six aquatints by Thomas Newbolt. See here on Books and Vines for pictures and a review of this excellent work. The book is set in Times New Roman and printed on Zerkall ‘Silurian’ mould-made paper. All the editions have Thomas Newbolt’s beautiful life studies tipped in. There are a few editions, with prices ranging from £75 up to £900.

The Unknown Masterpiece, Rampant Lions Press, Frontispiece and Title Page
The Unknown Masterpiece, Rampant Lions Press, Frontispiece and Title Page
 Mr. Carter also has some ‘bin ends’ available, at very attractive pricing, as follows:
  • Seven Poems in Pattern (1955) – Copy in good condition in original glassine paper wrapper. £50
  • Tact in Typographical Design (1962) Specimen of Octavian type – A few copies available of the regular edition (buff covers) each £10
  • Lessons of the War (1970)
    • Copy of special edition, number XLIII, not signed. Decent condition in glassine paper wrapper. £50
    • Copy of special edition, out of series and not signed. Decent condition in glassine paper wrapper. £30
    • Copy of ordinary edition, number 3. Decent condition in glassine paper wrapper. £35
  • The Story of Cupid and Psyche (1974) Copy of the standard edition, two volumes as new, out of series (the last of two sets thus). £1,000
  • Portfolio Three (1982) Two copies. Good condition. Each £35
  • The Book Becomes (1984) – Two copies of rebound edition as new. Each £45
  • Grigson at Eighty (1985) – Special edition. As new. Copy no 55 £75; Four copies out of series each £45
  • The Rampant Lions Press Miscellany (1988) together with Miscellany 2 (1998) A set of the special edition of each, in series. As new. £600
  • Four Quartets (1996) – Copy number 1, as new. £750
  • In the beginning (2006) – Lettered copy B as new £1,200

Do not miss your chance to own some works from fine press publishing history!

The Salvage Press

Jamie Murphy is doing outstanding work, and this is a press to watch for going forward. First to mention is that Mr. Murphy is just announcing his latest new edition, Maldon, a translation of the old English poem The Battle of Maldon by Irish poet Michael Smith with wood engravings by Simon Brett. This is very exciting….a classic old English poem translated by an outstanding Irish poet, illustrated by one of the great wood-engravers of our time.

This book has been designed, typeset by hand & letterpress printed by Jamie Murphy, with assistance from Louis Scully. Simon Brett has designed and engraved the illustrations, which have been printed from the original wood blocks. The calligraphic titles have been printed from magnesium plates after designs by Frances Breen. The type has been set in 12 & 18 point Monotype Caslon Old Face (series 128), superbly cast into founts by Neil Winter at The Whittington Press. The book has been printed on Zerkall 170 gsm mouldmade paper.

There are 65 books printed. Copies marked i — xv (De Luxe) have been half-bound in Pentland Goat with paper sides & are accompanied by a portfolio of strikes of the engravings in protective slipcases. Copies marked 1 — 40 (Standard) have been half-bound in bookcloth with paper sides &housed in protective slipcases. The bindings have been executed by Tom Duffy in his workshop at Dublin’s Five Lamps.

Maldon, The Salvage Press
Maldon, The Salvage Press (sorry, white squares remnants of screen shot!)

Mr. Murphy has some existing works in stock, as well as having an upcoming edition available at a special pre-launch price. See here for the complete list of available works. Here is a sampling:

Albert, Ernest & the Titanic tells the story of RMS Titanic’s ill-fated on board printers, Abraham ‘Albert’ Mishellany and Ernest Corbin as they travel on the ship’s doomed maiden voyage. Designed, illustrated and letterpress printed by Jamie Murphy. All the text has been set by hand in Monotype Garamond, Grotesque Light and Grot no.8. The 40 illustrations are printed from original linoleum blocks. Hand bound by Tom Duffy in a unique adhesive-less binding. It is limited to 36 copies, of which there is only one remaining, so move quickly if interested! The cost is €2,000. There are many pictures to see of this edition here.
Albert, Ernest & the Titanic, The Salvage Press
Albert, Ernest & the Titanic, The Salvage Press

Four Poems based on the poetry of Jonathan Swift, housed in a protective slipcase — Stella’s Birth-Day (1725), Desire and Possession (1727), The Puppet Show (1729) and A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed (1731). The type is set  in 12 & 22 point Monotype Caslon Old Face series 128. Monotype’s interesting cut (1916) is an adaptation of the first designs released by William Caslon I, but nevertheless, while Swift was penning and publishing these four poems, Caslon’s ‘Roman and Italick’ types were also having their first outings (1725 — 1731).  These books have each been printed in an edition of just 50 copies. Numbers 1 – 40 comprise the standard copies with paper sides, A – J comprise the De Luxe copies which have been case bound & housed in slipcases by Tom Duffy in his studio at Dublin’s Five Lamps. The standard edition is €160 with 5 remaining at the time of this writing, the Deluxe is €280 with 3 remaining.

Four Poems, Jonathan Swift, The Salvage Press
Four Poems, Jonathan Swift, The Salvage Press

The upcoming edition is very exciting, I suggest doing your best to get it at the pre-publication price. The book is called Winter, and Mr. Murphy states on his website:

I have begun a large and very interesting book project based on WW1 poetry from the hands of approximately 14 revered Irish poets including W.B. Yeats, Francis Ledwidge, William Orpen, Katherine Tynan, Thomas McGreevy, George Russell, Patrick McGill and others to be confirmed. Illustrations have been drawn by renowned Irish illustrator David Rooney. The book will carry an introduction by it’s editor, Dr. Lisa Griffith. Both the typographic approach and book format will be experimental in design. The majority of the text will be hand set in specially cast 24 point Caslon Small Face, first released in 1916. The 225gsm Zerkall mouldmade paper has arrived.

Approximately 60 books will be made. The 46 books in the standard edition will consist of the poems in broadside format accompanied by a quarter bound (cloth and paper covered boards) illustrated book containing the introduction and other relevant texts. Housed in a strong portfolio.

The 16 books in the De Luxe edition will consist of the poems in broadside format, the illustrations in a limited edition signed by the artist, and several unpublished contemporary poems reflective of the subject. These will be accompanied by a half bound (moroccan goat and paper over boards) book containing the introduction and other relevant texts. All housed in a solander box.

Winter, The Salvage Press
Winter, The Salvage Press, illustrator David Rooney (sorry, white squares remnants of screen shot!)

Winter is extremely limited (46 Standard, 16 Deluxe), and only a fraction of those are set aside for the pre-launch price (Standard of which 8 remaining, Deluxe of which 3 remaining).

Shanty Bay Press

While I am excited for The Birth of Venus, which looks to be tracking late next year,  Shanty Bay Press has copies of the Homeric Hymn to AphroditeCIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque and Stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses available. With art by Walter Bachinski and typesetting, presswork and binding by Janis Butler, these livre d’artist books are simply outstanding productions, beautiful works that I admire. That would make amazing Christmas gifts, including for yourself!   See here for a look at each of those works, including many pictures.

The translation used for Ovid’s Metamorphoses is the one compiled by Sir Samuel Garth in 1715, in which he used leading poets of the era such as John Dryden and Joseph Addison. This is a large book with a page size 36.8 by 25.4 cm. There are 152 pages including blanks. 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.  Walter Bachinski worked on the drawings over a period of a year and then had them made into photogravures by Jon Goodman who also printed the plates. The price for the Regular Edition is $3,500 (quarter bound in calfskin with Japanese Gampi paper over boards), the deluxe $7500 (it is fully bound in calf skin with a portfolio containing an extra set of the photogravures from the book).

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)
Metamorphoses, by Ovid, Illustrations by Walter Bachinski.  (Shanty Bay Press)

CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque is another amazing work. Shanty Bay explains the book:

This book contains a variety of writings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries loosely based on the idea of the artist and the circus. The authors include Apollinaire, Beaumont, Baudelaire, Miller, Rilke and Twain. The excerpts are different in both style and content: they are funny, surreal, serious and poignant. Together with the illustrations we hope to evoke the richness of the circus experience, where there are three rings of simultaneous activity, with something different happening in each one. 

The book measures 37.8 x 26.6 cm and there are 72 pages including blanks. The book is hand-set Deepdene on 200 gsm Arches cover. The book is quarter bound in cloth and Somegami paper and is housed in a cloth-covered slipcase. It has been designed jointly by Janis Butler and Walter Bachinski. There are 4 full page pochoirs and 8 multi-coloured linocuts created and executed by Walter Bachinski. Printing on a Vandercook Universal 1 and binding were done by Janis Butler. Limited to 55 copies and the price is $3000.00.

CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, pochoir
CIRCUS: The Artist as Saltimbanque, Shanty Bay Press, Baudelaire pochoir

Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite is another outstanding work from Shanty Bay. It is translated by Susan C. Shelmerdine with a preface and 3 full page pochoir illustrations and 3 two-colour woodcuts by Walter Bachinski. It is handset on Somerset Satin paper 250 gsm using Bembo type and has 40 pages including blanks. The size is 13 x 9 3/16 inches and it is limited to 100 copies.

Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Seduction Pochoir
Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Shanty Bay Press, Seduction Pochoir

As for the upcoming The Birth of Venus, it will consist of a pochoir in triptych form depicting Venus with a variation of Venus on either side. The pochoir is done traditionally with many stencils and the final details done freehand. The pochoir will be mounted within a clamshell box and set for open viewing. There will also be an illustrated book housed in the box containing a number of poems on the Birth of Venus. The poems in the book are:

  • Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite (short version)
  • Sun and Flesh, Arthur Rimbaud
  • The Birth of Venus, Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Whales Weep Not, D. H. Lawrence
  • The Man of Tyre, D. H. Lawrence
  • Pervigilium Veneris Tiberianus (translated by Bruce Whiteman)

The illustrations in the book will be done in colour linocut. The idea is that when the box is opened the reader can read the poems within the book while looking at the pochoir. This will be a large sized work. The dimensions of the clamshell box are 22 X 15 1⁄4 X 1 1⁄2 inches. The book page size is 11 3⁄4 X 9 1⁄2 inches. The triptych dimensions are:

  • Left panel 8 15/16 X 4 3⁄4 inches or 22.7 X 12.1 cm
  • Centre panel 8 15/16 X 5 3/16 inches or 22.7 X 13.1 cm
  • Right panel 8 15/16 X 4 3⁄4 inches or 22.7 X 12.1 cm

You will want to plan on ordering The Birth of Venus next year, but do consider the above-mentioned works for this year!

Solmentes Press

Following up on his fantastic book Chili: A Pictorial Recipe in Woodcuts, and on his “passion for food, cooking and making books,” David Esslemont’s latest work is called Taxi Driver Curry. Mr. Esslemont tells us:

There are many different ways to cook curry – this transcript of a conversation with a taxi driver describes just one approach and was recorded at 4.30 a.m. while travelling between terminals at London’s Heathrow airport. The woodcuts are based on kolam, Indian designs that are created outside homes to ward off evil spirits.

Taxi Driver Curry, Solmentes Press, Sample Woodcuts
Taxi Driver Curry, Solmentes Press, Sample Woodcuts

Fifty copies hand printed from the original wood- blocks, the text from polymer plates, bound as follows: forty-five copies in cloth-covered boards, presented in a drop-back box – $400 ($360 pre publication) and five copies in a deluxe binding (details on request). The size of the work is 175 x 254 mm ( 7 x 10 ins), 24pp, 10 woodcuts.

Mr. Esslemont has much more to choose from, including books painting, drawings and prints. See here.

The Whittington Press

John Randle’s work is famously outstanding, and so needs no introduction from me. There are a number of works available from Whittington Press, all would make excellent additions to your library and/or excellent gifts. Here is the list of works, the latest of which is:

Posters from Whittington, 1996-2012compiled and with an introduction by John & Patrick Randle, highlights thirty-five of Whittington’s greatest posters from the last twenty years. It shows off a great variety of typefaces on an equally esoteric variety of papers from England (some over a century old), France, Italy, Czechslovakia, Germany, Japan and Korea. They include illustrations from linocuts, wood-engravings, and in the special copies, pochoir, among a dazzling array of the Press’ extensive collection of founts. 150 copies, 20 x 15 ins, set in 22-point Caslon and printed on a heavyweight Zerkall mould-made paper, one poster tipped into each double-page spread, with accompanying commentary. Price ranges from £225 to £1110.

Posters from the Whittington Press 1996-2012
Posters from the Whittington Press 1996-2012

There are a number of publications in the works, please check out here for the entire list. A couple I am particularly interested in (though all look outstanding) include:

Venice, by John Craig, includes 35 of Mr. Craig’s wood engravings. A scintillating series of double-page spreads will lead the reader through the lesser known by-ways of Venice, the narrow passages, hidden squares and waterways that often elude the casual visitor, seen through an acute architectural eye. The typographical treatment of the book will be from Mr. Craig also, so that the engravings and type harmonise as a single unit on each double-page spread. Set in 13-point Bodoni and printed on Zerkall mould-made paper with about 35 wood-engravings, and some linocuts. Various levels of deluxe-ness provide different types of bindings and options for portfolios of the prints.

Venice, John Craig Illustrations
Venice, John Craig Illustrations

Pages from Presses II, by David Butcher, follows up on the amazing 2006 Pages From Presses I, which included a history and original leaves from the Kelmscott, Ashendene, Doves (including a vellum leaf in the special copies), Vale, Eragny and Essex House Presses. Pages from Presses II will take the story up to the Second World War and beyond, and include David’s accounts of the Golden Cockerel, Gregynog, Nonesuch, Shakespeare Head, Haslewood, Cresset and, interestingly, the Curwen Press. Once again it will be accompanied by original leaves from each Press, mounted on generously sized guards so that each side is readily accessible. These will demonstrate the varying typographical styles of the presses and show the typefaces, illustrations, decorative elements and papers they used. The original leaves chosen include some of the major works from the presses, such as the Golden Cockerel Canterbury Tales engraved by Eric Gill. The book will be a handsome volume, printed on Czech Losin hand-made paper, set in 14-point Walbaum. The leather editions contain additional and more elaborate specimen leaves, and the full-leather edition has a separate portfolio of additional leaves. The buckram, Roma hand-made and marbled paper, and leather used for the bindings, will all be in green to complement the red used for the earlier volume, which was sold out on publication.


The one issue with presenting a list of publishers, like I have done above, is leaving people out. I wish I could avoid such, but I can only cover what I am familiar with! With that in mind, here are a few other works that I have had interest in for some time, and certainly should be considered in your fine press purchasing plans:

At the Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair early this year, I saw some of Gaylord Schanilec‘s work on his upcoming Lac Des Pleurs. It is fair to say it seems to be amongst the most stunning fine press work I have seen in a long, long time. It is looking like it will be completed sometime next year. I suggest keeping an eye on the his blog about this work and contact Mr. Schanilec with questions and interest.

Another excellent work to consider is Russell Maret‘s Interstices & Intersections or, An Autodidact Comprehends a Cube. Many of the images in the book were painted first and then re-drawn in separation, resulting in page spreads requiring as many as fourteen colors. The text of the book is set in my proprietary type family, Gremolata & Cancellaresca Milanese, and printed from photo-polymer plates. The bindings are by Daniel Kelm at the Wide Awake Garage. Seventy-one copies, numbered 1-71, were printed on mouldmade Zerkall Litho 270gm paper. They are bound in custom dyed goatskin & University of Iowa handmade paper, and housed in a cloth covered clamshell box. Thirteen copies, numbered I-XIII, are printed on a specially devised cotton and abaca Twinrocker Handmade Paper developed for the book by Travis Becker. They are bound in full leather with seven color leather inlays, and accompanied by a second volume of state and progressive proofs of the proposition matching the book’s number. Both volumes are housed in a leather and cloth covered clamshell box. Mr. Maret has a number of other works, as seen here, including an amazing edition of Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound.

David Johnston’s Sharp Teeth Press has been highlighted twice this year on Books and Vines for his editions of Kurt Vonnegut’s 2BR02B and for Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. Both books have excellent price points ($55 and $125, respectively).

I have long had interest in is the Sherwin Beach Press (Bob McCamant proprietor) version of Mark Twain‘s Innocents Abroad.  The Innocents Abroad was printed in an edition of 200 on Johannot, set in Monotype Bell, and re-spaced manually. It has 445 text pages plus 20 pages of illustrations in two volumes which are each 7 3/4 by 11 1/4 inches. The non-adhesive binding with exposed spine sewing consists of 7 black double raised cords attached to hard covers wrapped in red cloth. The two volumes are in turn housed in a black and white linen covered hard case wrapper with black leather straps over brass studs, intended to suggest a portmanteau. It was designed by Bob McCamant and printed by Martha Chiplis. The binding was designed and executed by Trisha Hammer. It is numbered and signed by the artist and bookmakers. Mr. McCamant also has other unique, interesting and well done works to choose from. See here for a complete list.

Sherwin Beach Press version of Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad
Sherwin Beach Press version of Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad

Taller Martin Pescador still has some copies left of their fantastic Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, reviewed by Books and Vines here. Juan Pascoe does amazing work, please read his background at the aforementioned link on Books and Vines. This book was one of the best fine press books of the last few years and you should be snatch it up before they are all gone! Contact Mr. Pascoe here for inquiries, or contact Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company, the exclusive sellers of this work in the United States, here.  It was printed by  Juan Pascoe at Taller Martín Pescador, with illustrations by Artemio Rodriguez and translation by John Ridland. The book was printed on handmade paper, tinted pale green, by Pasquale De Ponte in San Lucas Tepetlaco. Type is Bembo Titling and Poliphilus types, cast by Bradley Hutchinson in Austin, Texas. It was printed on dampened pages on a Vandercook hand press, then bound by the printers, sewn onto vellum tapes and laced into a dark green stiff paper cover (the lettered version is bound in quarter vellum with hard covers, vellum caps at the book corners,  and a custom slipcase). It is folio-sized 13.25″ H x 9″ W and is limited to 200, plus an additional 26 lettered copies.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Taller Martin Pescador, Sample Text with Illustration
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Taller Martin Pescador, Sample Text with Illustration

Lastly, a reminder to check Books and Vines links, which includes other fine press publishers not mentioned in this article, including Ascensius PressBowler PressKat Ran PressLaNana Creek PressLone Oak PressThe Melville PressThe New Albion PressNinja PressThe Petrarch Press and others.

And Finally….

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. I would like to particularly call out Tom Toth at Different Drummer Books, Mark Post of Mark Post, Bookseller and Robert Fleck of Oak Knoll Books, all of whom I bought scores and scores of books from in the course of wrapping up my complete LEC collection. All have been outstanding to work with, perfectly honest and open in their dealings, with extremely fair prices. Traits that, fortunately, almost every bookseller I have had the pleasure of buying fine press from, have displayed. Such booksellers play an indispensable role in the fine press ecosystem.

Need an excuse to take a trip to New York City?  Perhaps buy the tickets now for April 10, 2015 as a gift to your significant other. By coincidence, while there…The Fine Press Book Association in collaboration with the Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Show is having the second annual Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair on Friday, April 10, 2015, from 8am to 4pm.

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.

Lastly, there are scores of emerging letterpress printers and printing shops whose work focuses more on the scale of invitations, cards, etc.  Please seek out such local printers and use them for all your printing needs! I know that Christmas cards I order from such places always end up much more beautiful and unique than the mass produced junk found elsewhere. And, it is an easy way to re-acquaint lots of people to the majesty of letterpress and fine papers.

Happy Holidays and order away!!!

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

      1. Arrgghhh! I had just about rationalized my way to ordering a copy of “Maldon” from the Salvage Press, when you go and wave this tempting morsel before my eyes! Back to the drooling board….

  1. Thanks for the reminder — I now have a copy of Lear’s “Nonsense” on its way to me from the Incline Press!

Leave a Reply