Books & Vines Re-Launch: Private/Fine Press News for 2019

After a two year hiatus, I would like to welcome you to a re-launched Books and Vines. Plenty of articles are in the works for the coming months to highlight recent release private/fine press publications while continuing our march through some of the greatest works in private press history (see the ‘Upcoming Reviews’ section for details). Look for the first review article in the coming weeks.

Before jumping into giving you an overview of what 2019 holds for today’s private/fine press publishers, a few asks of you! First, for readers who enjoy what they see here, I would appreciate your subscription to Books and Vines. Doing so is as simple as typing in your email address on the right side of this page and clicking ‘Submit’. There is no cost to subscribe to Books and Vines, nor do I use your email address for anything other than alerting you to when a new post is published (once or twice a month). Besides the hundreds of current direct subscribers, there are nearly a thousand people following Books and Vines on Twitter. I would ask those Twitter followers to instead directly follow by subscribing directly, as I do intend to pull Books and Vines from Twitter soon.

Secondly, I do hope readers take advantage of being able to comment on works directly within each article. Many people send me direct emails, and others post about what they see here on other forums, both of which are fine and appreciated. It would be nice, however, for discussions to primarily occur here, directly within the article published. Many private/fine press publishers subscribe and actively read and peruse this site, as do many artists and others involved in these publications. I know they would appreciate seeing your comments.

Keep in mind that Books and Vines has, as of this writing, well over 500 articles that can be referred to. This includes works from scores of current and historical private presses, representing works from the greatest authors and works of literature in history. Keep those links bookmarked, as they really are useful references to have on hand. I am happy to take suggestions on books to track down and review, and on additional private/fine presses to cover.

Lastly, I sheepishly ask you, dear reader, to keep in mind the early days of Books and Vines was very intentionally amateur, not meant to be anything other than casually sharing, with a few friends, thoughts on some books as they were being read. Hence the informality of many old posts, especially the photos. I was tempted to delete everything posted prior to 2013 for this relaunch due to poor photographs and not very deep thinking that went into those ‘early days’ write-ups. However, I decided to keep them so to not lose what limited benefit the posts do bring and plan to, over time, update the old posts with better photographs and write-ups.

To this day, publishing Books and Vines is a hobby, not a job! I have no editors, a staff of one (that being me!), and one fantastic contributor, known to you all as dlphcorcl. Hence, please be forgiving of spelling or grammatical errors that seep through my not very stringent proof-reading. Please let me know of such errors, including bad links, and incorrect formatting (which may be plentiful due to migrating old posts from previous versions of the software to the current version).

Now, in alphabetical order, on to an overview of what some of our favorite presses are planning for the remaining part of 2019. Thank you to the presses for permission to copy information and pictures from their websites and for the additional information and pictures they provided for this article.

Note: All pictures on Books and Vines are exclusively provided, under fair use, to highlight and visualize the review/criticism of the work being reviewed. A side benefit, hopefully, is providing education on the historical and cultural benefits of having a healthy fine press industry and in educating people on the richness that this ‘old school approach’ of book publishing brings to the reading process. Books and Vines has no commercial stake or financial interest in any publisher, retailer or work reviewed on this site and receives no commercial interest or compensation for Books and Vines. 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 or material found on Books and Vines for any purpose that would infringe on the rights of the copyright owner.

Alberto Tallone

A few years back, Books and Vines highlighted the long and storied history of Alberto Tallone. The press continues to put out an impressive list of titles at their same remarkable level of quality as always. One such work, Satire & Sermones, by Horace, is published in Latin and in Italian.

Satire & Sermones – Alberto Tallone

Tallone summarizes Horace’s work as:

18 reflective-narrative essays in hexameters written between 41 BC and 30 A.C. Through the description and reflection on the vices and the ways of society, Horace offers an acute investigation of the human condition and configures his idea of a more equitable and balanced society.

The volume in Latin has been edited by Carlo Carena on David Roy Shackelton Bailey’s edition. The volume includes a Prefatio by Carlo Carena and Vita Horati by Suetonius and Pseudoacron. The Italian version is translated from Latin by Gavino Manca.

The volume in 4to format, typeset by hand in Garamond types, hand-cut on punches in 1914 by Henri Parmentier and cast by Deberny&Peignot foundry in Paris. The total print run of the edition is limited to 470 copies, of which: 300 copies on Arches paper made in France; 120 on Magnani paper made in Tuscany; 30 on Amatruda paper made in Amalfi and 20 copies on exotic papers made in Japan (this last one is already sold out). The book is 120 pages and is 21x35cm. The two volumes are housed in a slipcase and a box, custom hand-made to an exact size, whose exteriors are covered with Ingres paper. The book title is letterpress-printed on the slipcase’s spine. The cost is 400,00 €.

The press has a number of titles available in English, two of which I will highlight here. The first is 12 Poesie (12 Poems) by Alfredo De Palchi in an edition consisting of 90 numbered copies, each one illustrated with an original watercolor by Fulvio Testa sewn into the book. The book is signed by the author, the artist and the printer. The book size is 37×23 cm, with 54 pages entirely typeset by hand in 16-point original Caslon type. This typeface, cast from original 18th-century mats, has been in use in Tallone’s typographic studio since then. The cost is 1 200,00 €.

Alberto Tallone – 12 Poems, Illustration by Fulvio Testa

Also available in English is William Shakespeare‘s Hamlet. The Tallone edition highlighted here is an edition of 80 printed on Amatruda paper handmade in Amalfi, each of which contains an original and numbered lithograph print by Fabrizio Clerici. The volume is in 4to format edited by Claudio Gorlier, with 224 pages typeset by hand in 12-point roman Tallone type. The type was designed by Alberto Tallone, cut on punches by Charles Malin in Paris and cast by Radiguer. The volume is housed in a hand-made slipcase and box, custom made to an exact size, whose exteriors are covered with Ingres paper. The book title is letterpress-printed on the slipcase’s spine. The cost is 1 900,00 €.

Hamlet – Alberto Tallone, Illustration by Fabrizio Clerici

Arion Press

Just released, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of its publication, is Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley. Like many of Arion’s works, it is an artist’s book, this time in collaboration with Tim Hawkinson who provides nine hypodermic ink drip drawings. There is an introduction by Todd Hosfelt. The prospectus tells us that “This Arion artist book edition seeks to situate Shelley’s work in a contemporary setting that refocuses the spotlight from the monstrous to the human struggle that drives the core of the story. ”

The following description of the work and editions, as well as further forthcoming work, is from the upcoming Arion Prospectus:

There are eight full-page illustrations and a double-page centerfold spread. Mr. Hawkinson’s use of a hypodermic needle fountain pen tool in creating the illustrations will be elaborated upon in the Books and Vines review of this edition soon after publication. For now, Arion mentions that “The resulting black and white drawings appear both surprisingly modern and timeless, departing from the gothic visuals traditionally associated with Dr. Frankenstein’s tale, yet growing directly from the heart of Shelley’s story.” Here is a sample:

Arion Press – Frankenstein, Illustration by Tim Hawkinson
Arion Press – Frankenstein, Illustration by Tim Hawkinson
Arion Press – Frankenstein, Illustration by Tim Hawkinson (“I saw the print of his huge step on the white plain.”)

The book is large octavo, 9-5/8 x 6-3/4 inches, 264 pages set in Monotype Bulmer with Eve handset for display. Type and artwork have been printed by letterpress in two colors—black and an icy blue reserved for the title and half-titles—with a Miller TW cylinder press on Magnani papers: 90 gsmlaid for the text and 180 gsmwove for the prints. The title page vignette is printed in an additional two colors: deep red over a toned background touchplate. All copies of the book are signed by the artist. There are two editions, Standard and Deluxe.

The standard edition is limited to 220 copies for sale and 26 lettered copies hors de commerce. It is Smyth-sewn and bound into boards covered with white leatherette whose background has been foil stamped in matte gray, leaving in relief a graphic depiction of a frayed, burst balloon—an object likely fallen from the sky, found by the artist. The image is reminiscent of a lightning strike, or other blast; even a mutant cell.

Arion Press – Frankenstein

The book is encased in a dark blue cardstock chemise with the title laser-cut so that the white cover shines through the letterforms, illuminating them from underneath. And in keeping with the nesting structure of Mary Shelley’s story, the book and chemise are in turn housed in a slipcase with dark blue cloth top and bottom and a paper wrap-around imprinted with a detail of a ship, perhaps Captain Walton’s. The non-subscriber price is $1200. Subscribers receive 30% off.

The deluxe edition is limited to 30 copies for sale and 5 printer’s proofs. These books are handsewn with linen thread and 3-tone silk headbands. They are bound in white textured Japanese Momi washi over boards and stamped in a manner identical to the standard edition, although with a satin-finish aluminum in lieu of matte gray foil. The chemise, a lighter blue card stock than in the standard edition, is lined with silver Japanese tea chest paper and stamped with  aluminum titling. Book and chemise slide into a birch wood slipcase engraved with the wrap-around ship motif. The deluxe edition is accompanied by an extra signed stand-alone print of the Frankenstein family crest, on the same paper as the illustrations in the book. The non-subscriber price is $2500. Subscribers receive 20% off.

There is also some exciting forthcoming Arion works that I am happy to share with you. The first is an edition of Ted Hughes’s Tales from Ovid, which will be illustrated, with classical figures from Hughes’s elaborations, by Wendy Artin (Stone from Delphi, 2012). Her watercolor drawings will be framed with an Introduction by Columbia University Professor of Classics and noted Ovid scholar and Latinist, Katharina Volk, and a Note on the Art  by Jessica Fisher, Professor of English at William College. The book should be large quarto and feature a dozen page-sized drawings and a couple of double-spread fold-outs reproduced by inkjet. 

Lastly, Arion Press has, in the early planning stage, an edition of John Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez to be issued in conjunction with the 2020 restoration and relaunch of the Western Flyer, the fishing vessel Steinbeck and his partner marine biologist Ed Ricketts chartered in 1940 for their pioneering six-week journey. This book will be presented in the tradition of the Grabhorn Press’s 1930 landmark edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, complete with wood boards salvaged from the vessel itself.

Barbarian Press

It is nearly impossible to describe how much admiration and respect I have for Crispin and Jan Elsted. Their Barbarian Press is a treasure. I am proud and thrilled to have been a subscriber for many years now. Every work I receive from them is instantly a favorite; the smile I get from such only surpassed by the occasional phone and email conversations with both Crispin and Jan. Knowing how busy they are right now, I felt bad pestering them for an update for this article knowing that Crispin would not just do a quick reply, but would actually take time away from the upcoming works below to craft a thoughtful and extremely useful reply! Sure enough….so rather than me butcher up his wonderful update, I will copy it as is (only adding some pictures here and there, along with colophon information). Now turning over to the Elsted’s….

“Like most people of a certain age, we are not sprinting about in all directions in adolescent frenzy as we used to do. Rather we have adopted a steady pace which nevertheless devours the miles as surely as ever. Barbarian Press celebrated its fortieth anniversary on January 1, 2017, and in December 2017 we published Ursus typographicus: a Chronology of Bears, a happy little volume chronicling the twenty press devices we have commissioned over the years from some of the world’s best wood engravers — among them Simon Brett, John DePol, Peter Lazarov, Barry Moser, Andy English, Nancy Ruth Jackson, and Abigail Rorer. Each device (or as some would say, ‘logo’) shows a bear, usually with a press or pursuing some printerly work, and in many styles from the heraldic to the naturalistic, the erotic to the astronomical. The book devotes a page or two to each of the engravers, with brief biographical notes facing their versions of our device, and listing the books in which the device has been used. In some cases, such as John DePol and Andy English, engravers have produced more than one example, and all of these are shown, printed from the original blocks. A Foreword discusses our fascination with bears and our relationship with them. In addition there are two Afterwords in which we each explain the reasons behind our chosen printer’s mark, with the three earlier examples for each of us printed within the text. The colophon page shows our twentieth device, commissioned for this book from Andy English, who also donated a printer’s mark for each of us, also appearing there. To top it off, Andy also engraved a splendid frontispiece for the book, full of bears. The book is a small landscape volume, quarter bound in grey morocco with paper sides printed with a pattern of bear tracks, and slipcased. A few copies remain available.” 

Ed. Note: The text is set in Van Dijck roman and italic with Castellar drop caps, printed in black and blue on Zerkall Book White mouldmade paper. The engravings are all printed from the wood, except for our first device by Louis Turpin, which is printed from a photo-engraved magnesium block taken from his original drawing. The book is quarter bound in grey morocco with paper over boards printed with a pattern adapted from a binding brass engraved by Alex McGuckin as a gift to the press, and is contained in a blue silk-covered slipcase. There is a single edition of 100, of which a small number remain. The cost is C$650.

Ursus Typographicus: A Chronology of Bears – Barbarian Press
Ursus Typographicus: A Chronology of Bears – Barbarian Press

Musick in partes was published to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and appeared in the late summer of 2017, just eight months late — which for us isn’t too bad! It contains all the songs included in Shakespeare’s plays, including a few piece which are uncertain — that is which may, or may not, have been sung. It also includes a song from The Two Noble Kinsmen, which has only fairly recently been given full status in the canon. I have also written an Afterward about music in Shakespeare’s theatre, and there are notes about some of the texts. The illustrations in the book are wood engravings by John Lawrence, one of the most venerated of the older generation of British engravers. John’s engravings are lively and engaging, reminiscent of the chapbook illustrations which were common in popular publications from the Elizabethan period through the 19th century, although John’s work has an underlying wit and sophistication not usual in traditional chapbooks. As is often his practice, John has provided full-page engravings for each of the sections of the book, and these are composite illustrations, made up of a groups of smaller illustrations within the whole. These are intended to provide small ‘spots’ throughout the text, and we have had photopolymer plates made of them and printed them, intermixed with the texts of the poems, in many colours throughout the book. The result is, we like to think, joyful, whimsical, and humorous.”  

Ed. Note: There is a deluxe edition of 60 (sold out) and a standard edition of 50, of which a small number of copies are available. The text is set in Poliphilus and Blado, with Duensing and ATF Ornamental caps for display, in black, red, green, and violet, and several other colours on Zerkall Book White mouldmade paper. The engravings by John Lawrence are printed from the wood, with some detailed spots from the larger engravings printed from photopolymer plates. The deluxe edition is quarter bound in maroon morocco with printed paper boards from printer’s ornaments, contained in a plum silk slipcase with a portfolio containing strikes of the engravings; whereas the standard edition is quarter bound with a plum silk spine with printed paper boards and printed paper label and is not slipcased. The cost is C$485.

Musick in partes:
Songs & Poems from Shakespeare’s Plays – Barbarian Press, Illustrations by John Lawrence
Musick in partes:
Songs & Poems from Shakespeare’s Plays – Barbarian Press, Illustrations by John Lawrence

“Meanwhile, work on Endgrain Editions Five: Richard Wagener — a Dialogue with Wood Engraving is nearing completion. The book presents nearly 100 engravings by this iconic American engraver, with nineteen of them in two colours. Richard Wagener‘s work moves seamlessly between extraordinary, pure representations of trees, plants, and landscapes, and stunning juxtapositions of animals, birds, and insects set into abstract fields of earth textures, slashing calligraphic brushstrokes, and fragments of maps. There are also completely abstract images, unusual in American engraving, which use colour as another element in the building of their effects. All in all, Endgrain Editions 5 provides an overview of the work of one of the most important and gifted of present-day engravers. The images are introduced by the artist in a fascinating and candid introduction, and Jan provides a useful note on her experience in printing the blocks. There is a catalogue of publications and major exhibitions. Most of the edition is reserved, but there are a very few copies of both the Deluxe  and the Regular states still available for order. We expect to complete the printing of the book in July, and copies will be coming from the bindery in batches through the rest of the summer and into the fall. Prices: Deluxe: quarter vermilion morocco with patterned boards, slipcased, with a new signed print not included in the book, C$1500; Regular, quarter black silk, patterned boards, C$1200.” 

Ed. Note: The book also includes two fold-out pages with wonderful quite wide landscape images.

Endgrain Editions 5 – Richard Wagener – Barbarian Press, Donner Peak Tree #2
Endgrain Editions 5 – Richard Wagener – Barbarian Press, Yosemite Afternoon
Endgrain Editions 5 – Richard Wagener – Barbarian Press
Endgrain Editions 5 – Richard Wagener – Barbarian Press

“After several years of what have proved to be somewhat premature announcements, our book on the Curwen Press borders will be going to press this summer, at last! In 2010 we acquired over a hundred two-colour ornamental borders in standing type, wrapped and stored at the Curwen Press for re-use, and rescued when the press closed in 1984. We also bought all Curwen’s holdings of Monotype ornaments in case, over a hundred packets of new ornaments from the foundry, never opened, and about a thousand working and finished proofs of work using the borders. David Jury has written a fine history of the Curwen Press, with special attention to its work between the wars and its place as an important and influential firm in the design world of Britain and Europe at that time. I am writing a brief, ‘broad-jumping’ history of printers’ ornaments as a prelude to a text discussing the Curwen borders, their aesthetics, and the remarkable achievements of Bert Smith, the compositor who designed and set the majority of them. The book will reprint most of the borders, the great proportion of them in two-colours, as well as many smaller borders used within the texts of the book. There will be an index to the ornaments used in each border, a selective annotated bibliography on books on ornaments and on the Curwen Press and, as an appendix, a facsimile reproduction from the Monotype Recorder of Sarah Clutton’s remarkable essay, “A Grammar of Type Ornament”. Anyone interested in this book should contact the press. The “A” state is already fully subscribed, but copies of the “B” and “C” states are still available. Details of these with further information will be posted on our website in time. We will put the book into the press during the summer of this year, and we expect production to take at least eighteen months, with publication probably in the spring or summer of 2021. “

Bordering on the Sublime – Barbarian Press, Two-colour formes with proof
Bordering on the Sublime – Barbarian Press, One border, three ways

Chester Creek Press

Robert Walp, proprietor of Chester Creek Press, has published three new works in the last few years:

The Raven & The Philosophy of Composition – an 1844 version of Edgar Allen Poe‘s poem along with his essay describing his process of writing it. Printed letterpress from handset Centaur and Arrighi type on handmade cotton rag paper. Printing, binding, and paper making by Robert Walp at Chester Creek Press. It is illustrated by the printer, with a portrait of Poe adapted from a drawing by Anne Gregson. Illustrations printed from photopolymer plates. The edition is 22 copies, 6-1/2 x 10 inches, 38 pages. The cost is $290.

Chester Creek Press – The Raven, Illustrations by Robert Walp

Moon & Water: A Dream of Ancient Chinese Poets – 16 poems by ancient Chinese poets plus two poems in the style by contemporary American poets David Budbill and Tom Sexton. Illustrated with seven pen and ink drawings by the printer, printed in multiple colors from photopolymer plates. It is printed letterpress with handset Kennerley Oldstyle type on a variety of mould and handmade papers. There are 30 copies, 5 x 8-1/2 inches. The cost is $350.

Chester Creek Press – Moon & Water, illustrations by Robert Walp

Les Festival des Murmures – poems by Dylan Willoughby. Printed letterpress on a variety of mouldmade papers with hand set Perpetua type. The illustrations were printed with polymer plates made from original drawing with illustrations by Anthony Mastromatteo. Dylan Willoughby is a Los Angeles based poet born in London, England. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University, where he studied under A. R. “Archie” Ammons and Robert Morgan. He has received writing fellowships from Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony. His poems have appeared in Agenda (London), Stand (UK), Shenandoah, Denver Quarterly, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. His books are held by libraries in the US and the UK, including Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Cornell, and The Brirish Library. Bound in a stiff paper binding with a wrap around cloth covered case. There are 20 copies, 5-1/4 x 8-1/2 inches, 30 pages. Cost is $300.

Chester Creek Press – Les Festival des Murmures, Illustrated by Anthony Mastromatteo

As for what is next, Mr. Walp is working on a second volume of Moon and Water to be titled Fields and Mountains. He is currently in the process of collecting poems and working on illustrations. 

Deep Wood Press

Proprietor Chad Pastotnik’s most recent publication is a wonderful edition of Franz Kafka‘s In the Penal Colony. There is new translation by Breon Mitchell was done especially for this Deep Wood Press edition along with six  sublime etchings by Dellas Henke. Breon Mitchell has translated major works by Günter Grass, Heinrich Böll, Siegfried Lenz and other leading German authors. His retranslation of Kafka’s Trial received a special commendation from the American Translators Association. He is Director Emeritus of the Lilly Library and Professor Emeritus of Germanic Studies and Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington.

The book is printed in 3 colors on Somerset Book White with three special copies on NOS Barcham Green“Windhover”paper in an edition of 30 books plus 6 artist proofs and 3 specials. It is 10 1/8 x 13 1/4 x 5/8 inches. Cost is $1300.

In the Penal Colony – Deep Wood Press
In the Penal Colony – Deep Wood Press, Illustration by Dalles Henke

Next up is another Kafka work, The Hunter Gracchus. It will be another new translation done for Deep Wood Press, this time by Jamie Searle Romanelli.  There will be four mezzotints and engravings by Chad Pastotnik. Composed in Linotype 14pt Weiss. The book is currently going through a major revision of the size and page design with a new paper more sympathetic to the intaglio prints yet suitable for a book, despite this Mr. Pastotnik hopes to have it available by mid summer. The edition size will be determined by how long the mezzotints hold out – projected at 40 copies.  Cost will be $1000.

The Hunter Gracchus – Deep Wood Press, Illustration by Chad Pastotnik

Mr. Pastotnik also did a broadside with David James Duncan as part of the Codex Foundation’s ‘Extraction: Art on the Edge of the Abyss’ project. Twenty six notable authors paired with printers to produce a portfolio of broadsides. It debuted at Codex this past February; the project is currently being crowdfunded here. See the attached press release from Peter Koch along with some images.

One River – Deep Wood Press Broadside

Folio Society Limited Editions

The Folio Society continues to produce some very worthwhile and interesting Limited Editions (LE’s) which, to this collector, are well worth considering. Their recent publication of London & New York, with 40 rare photogravures by the great Alvin Langdon Coburn, is fantastic. These two facsimile editions have been reproduced from first editions held at the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. The two greatest metropolises of the early 20th century, are:

“each captured in 20 photogravures by the pictorialist genius Alvin Langdon Coburn. These facsimiles of two volumes of luminous and evocative images, first published in 1909 and 1910 respectively, convey the urban beauty of London and New York in the age of steam.”

Folio also mentions that “the original introduction and foreword, by Hilaire Belloc for London and by H. G. Wells for New York, are included. The facsimiles are accompanied by a separate leaflet featuring a specially commissioned introduction by Geoff Dyer and a new essay by Rut Blees Luxemburg.

The edition is limited to 500 sets. The two volumes (both 16.5″ x 12″) are quarter-bound by hand in goatskin leather with Materica paper sides blocked in gold on front and spine. The images are printed on Tatami paper and hand-tipped onto heavyweight grey Materica paper. The original text is printed on Canaletto Grana Grossa paper. There is a handmade slipcase covered in Materica paper blocked in blue foil. There is a commentary volume included that is set in Founders Caslon and is printed on Abbey Pure paper, sewn with blue thread and blocked in blue foil on the title page.

London New York – The Folio Society LE

London New York – The Folio Society LE, Photogravure by Alvin Langdon Coburn

Another recent publication is the classic work of François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, with illustrations by Gustave Doré, which, in this LE “unites Rabelais’s comic masterpiece translated into English with all Doré’s renowned illustrations for the first time.” There is an introduction by Stephen Greenblatt. The translation, first published in 2006, is by Professor M. A. Screech, who wrote extensively on Rabelais and was promoted Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1992 in recognition of his achievements. Screech, who died in June 2018, was both senior research fellow and Chaplain of All Souls College, Oxford.

The FS writes of Dore’s illustrations here which:

…are the definitive images for Rabelais’s humanist classic, but the whole body of work, completed over two decades, is rarely seen and has never before been available in its entirety with the text in English. Although he became the foremost illustrator of his day, Doré began his work on Gargantua and Pantagruel, for an edition first published in 1854, without a commission. In 1868 he agreed with the publishers Garnier Frères to contribute further illustrations, but it was not until 1873 that the new edition appeared with 61 full-page plates and 658 smaller pieces.

For this edition, the engraved illustrations have been scanned from originals of the 1873 printing. This 1,000 page, two volume, 14¼˝ × 10¼˝ edition has numerous ornamented initials throughout. It is quarter-bound in goatskin leather with cloth sides blocked in gold foil on front and spine, with gilded top edges. It is set in Bulmer. There is a handmade cloth-bound slipcase printed in gold with designs by Doré. The edition is limited to 500 copies.

Gargantua and Pantagruel, The Folio Society Limited Edition
Gargantua and Pantagruel, The Folio Society Limited Edition, Illustrations by Gustave Dore

Foolscap Press

Just released is one of my most looked forward to publication in years. The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Beyond the Holy Land, which will be the focus of one the first couple Books and Vines articles published in the coming weeks, follows a journey that began in 1322 and continued on for more than thirty years. This edition commences as Mandeville leaves the Holy Land and travels east to the lands beyond Egypt, which were mostly unknown to Western Europeans at that time. It is a strange journey and one that has kept his book alive and in print since it was first published in manuscript form in 1357.

The text used is based mainly on the Cotton MS, a translation that was first edited in 1725 and continues to be a starting point for serious study of Sir John Mandeville. The edition is illustrated and illuminated by Peggy Gotthold “following Mandeville’s observations of strange flora and fauna and the remarkable beings he encountered,” while also including five imaginative and narrative-based maps created for this edition.

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Beyond the Holy Land is published in an edition limited to 90 numbered copies signed by the printer and bookbinder. The text, which is Silentium, designed by Jovica Veljović, is printed on handmade Chancery paper. There are five double-spread maps printed on handmade linen paper and then hand colored. All illustrations are by Peggy Gotthold. The book is bound in handmade, Cave Paper and comes in a cloth-covered box. The price is $1200, plus appropriate California sales tax.  If you pass this edition up despite having the means to, in the future you will regret not picking up a copy of this marvelous edition, which perfectly encapsulates what private presses are about.

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Beyond the Holy Land – Foolscap Press
The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Beyond the Holy Land – Foolscap Press
The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Beyond the Holy Land – Foolscap Press
The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Beyond the Holy Land – Foolscap Press
The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Beyond the Holy Land – Foolscap Press
The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Beyond the Holy Land – Foolscap Press

Foolscaps next publication is ‘Brief Loves That Live Forever’, a book written by Andreï Makine. Mr. Makine is a Russian writer living in France who writes in French. He has won the top French awards (the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Médicis). He is the first in history to win those awards plus the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens. In 2016 he was elected to the Académie française. Lawrence Van Velzer, of Foolscap, tells me that:

Brief Loves is a novel written in eight chapters that resemble eight connected stories. Needless to say, we were attracted to the book after the first reading and even more enchanted with it on subsequent readings. The translator is a friend of ours, an Englishman named Geoffrey Strachan. He has translated into English all of Makine’s work. The illustrator, Vladimir Zimakov (who also is illustrating a work for Mad Parrot Press, as you will see further in this article), is a Russian living and teaching in the Boston area. We met him at the Codex Book Fair in 2015 and liked his work very much. The illustrations are either two or three colors and there will be one full page illustration for each of the eight chapters plus (we hope) eight vignettes.”

I look forward to this publication as I am not yet familiar with Mr. Makine’s writing and an edition by Foolscap is great way to be introduced to it.

Hand & Eye Letterpress (Social Enterprise Printing)

Books and Vines readers almost certainly recall the wonderful edition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with evocative illustrations by Angela Barrett, published by Hand & Eye Letterpress some years back. And, or course, Fugitive Lyrics, by author and illustrator Ian Beck, was also a stand out. Last year proprietor Phil Abel published Dear Edward, which records the correspondence of artist Edward Bawden and Peyton Skipwith, his agent and friend, over the last twenty years of Bawden’s life.  English artist David Gentleman, writes in the foreword to this edition:

…it is unusual to have a chance to read other people’s letters to each other, or perhaps even much want to.  But Edward Bawden had been my tutor at the RCA, and Peyton Skipwith has been my friend and adviser for the last fifteen years, so I read their correspondence with peculiar interest. When it began, Edward – watercolourist, illustrator, lithographer, printmaker and designer of murals, wallpapers and cast-iron seats – was already well known; Peyton was then a young recruit to The Fine Art Society in Bond Street who quickly became and remained his agent and friend.

Designed by Webb & Webb, the book is 220 x 150 mm, with 240 pages. The typeset in Monotype Joanna, printed on Mohawk Superfine paper and bound in a new Edward Bawden pattern paper.

Dear Edward – Hand & Eye Letterpress
Dear Edward – Hand & Eye Letterpress, Illustration Edward Bawden

The next publication from Hand & Eye will an edition of Kenneth Grahame‘s The Wind in the Willows newly illustrated by Judy White. It will be letterpress printed with a page size of 250 x 175 mm, with about 200 pages. They expect to publish it next spring. More details as they become available.

The Wind in the Willows, Hand & Eye Letterpress, Illustration by Judy White

Also in the works is ‘A Faraway Country,’ which was written by Mr. Abel’s late mother, Ruth Boswell, and follows her experiences of Nazi anti-Semitism in 1930s Czechoslovakia and her subsequent emigration to the UK. It will be illustrated by Angela Barrett.

As an aside, the press recently completed If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho for The Folio Society, which is available to purchase here.

If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho, The Folio Society, Photo of work by The Folio Society

Incline Press

Unfortunately, Graham Moss has been quite busy dealing with some ‘much more important’ than producing books issues. None-the-less, Mr. Moss has quite a bit of works to choose from, including one released on the past New Years: ‘The Christmas Pudding‘ by Marcel Theroux. This edition:

…is a collaboration with our good friends Christian Brett and Alice Smith of Bracket Press who commissioned Marcel’s short story about a RAF mechanic surviving as a POW in the Thai jungle. His idea: to make a christmas pudding from their rations and other foraged bits and pieces in order to raise moral. The result: an unforgetable Christmas day.

Alice Smith designed the artwork. Bracketpress typeset the text using a digital face based on Miller & Richard’s Number 7, a classic mid-19th-century design. It was printed at Incline from mag plates made at PLG Repro in Leeds. About 325 were printed to fit into a DL envelope and were sold as designed by Christian Brett. The Incline edition, which is of 125 copies, has a variant title page and front cover, and is slightly larger at 7 pages and 8 1/4 x 5 inches. The cost starts at only £12.00.

Mr. Moss is tentatively planning a work that will be possibly titled ‘Minding Letterpress,’ a collection of single sheet ephemera. Many of these pieces can be seen on Incline’s Instagram feed. Mr. Moss tells me that “At present there’s well in excess of 160 items, from handbills to jam labels and all sizes and subjects in-between!

Two other notable works available now (or very soon): The first is G K Chesterton‘s poem ‘The Rolling English Road‘, illustrated with two linocuts by John Watson, (hardbacked, 160 copies, plus 20 sets of sheets for binders), and the other a translation into English of Robert Burns‘ poem ‘To a Mouse‘, an edition 60 copies for sale and 10 ad personam copies. That is printed on handmade paper from India and comes in a portfolio with marbled paper by Jemma Lewis.

Mad Parrot Press

I am very excited for this new press – a collaboration between Chad Pastotnik of Deep Wood Press and James Dissette of The Chester River Press. Their previous collaborations have been magnificent. This includes Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness (reviewed here), ‘The Chesapeake Voyages of Capt. John Smith’, and Moon As Bright As Water: Seventeen Poems by Qin Guan (reviewed here).

Mad Parrot Press is working on a wonderful new edition of Kenneth Grahame‘s ‘The Wind in the Willows’. It will be illustrated by Vladimir Zimakov with at least ten 3 color linocuts (Note: Mr. Zimakov is also illustrating Foolscap Presses next publication of ‘Brief Loves That Live Forever’ discussed earlier in this article). Professor Peter Hunt, Professor Emeritus in Children’s Literature at Cardiff University, who wrote the Introduction to the 1985 and revised 2010 of The Oxford World’s Classics edition ‘The Wind in the Willows’, will provide a new foreword for this edition.

The Wind in the Willows – Mad Parrot Press, Illustration by Vladimir Zimakov

Printing is planned in three colors with composition in 14pt Centaur and Arrighi. David Carruthers of Papeterie Saint-Armand in Montreal is making a custom stock with a felt finish and at around 135gsm. Page size of 11.25 x 14″ +/- 150 pages, edition of +/- 70 books. The press hopes to be going to press this fall, typesetting is complete, proofreading is proceeding and Mr. Zimakov is working on the prints! Seventy-five copies will be available for sale at $2,000.

Mad Parrot will also be publishing a limited edition of E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops in late 2019-2020. Details will be forthcoming.

Mixolydian Editions

The latest work from Mixolydian Editions is titled Teapots & Tympani featuring eighteen prose poems by Maxine Chernoff accompanied by nineteen color wood engravings by Richard Wagener. Maxine Chernoff is an American novelist, writer, poet, academic and literary magazine editor. She is a professor and Chair of the Creative Writing program at San Francisco State University. With her husband, Paul Hoover, she edits the long-running literary journal “New American Writing“.  Mr. Wagener is a California printmaker and book artist specializing in wood engraving, and is the proprietor of Mixolydian Editions where he publishes fine press limited edition books and prints. He is the 2016 co-recipient of the Carl Hertzog Award for Excellence in Book Design from the University of Texas at El Paso and the recipient of the 2016 Oscar Lewis Award for contributions to Book Arts from the Book Club of California. His work has been collected by over seventy-five public institutions.

Teapots & Tympani was designed and printed by Mr. Wagener on mouldmade smooth Zerkall paper from the Kall River Valley in Germany. The book is forty-eight pages and measures 13 x 71⁄2 inches. The nineteen engravings were printed directly from the wood blocks on a Vandercook Universal 1 proof press by the engraver/printer. Patrick Reagh typeset and cast the Monotype Bembo in Sebastopol, California. The binding and enclosures are by Craig Jensen at Booklab II, San Marcos, Texas with the assistance of Marc Hammonds. The edition numbers 48 copies with five copies reserved as hors de commerce and three sets of unbound sheets.

There is a Deluxe edition of 26 copies. The book is bound in quarter leather with cloth over boards and a leather lined fore-edge. It is housed in a clam-shell box with a paper chemise that holds eight signed prints from the edition. Each book is foil stamped on the spine, signed by the writer and the engraver/printer and lettered A-Z. Also, there is a slipcase edition or 14 copies. The book is bound in quarter cloth with paper over boards housed in a Japanese cloth slipcase with a printed label on the spine. Each book is signed by the writer and the engraver/printer and numbered 1-14.

Teapots & Tympani – Mixolydian Editions
Teapots & Tympani – Mixolydian Editions, Illustrations by Richard Wagener
Teapots & Tympani – Mixolydian Editions, Illustrations by Richard Wagener
Teapots & Tympani – Mixolydian Editions, Illustrations by Richard Wagener

I encourage you to check out Mr. Wagener’s website, his range of work is impressive and beautiful! Also, see the entry for Barbarian Press earlier in this article for a new publication that will wonderfully highlight Mr. Wagener’s extensive work.

Spitsbergen Island – Richard Wagener

Nawakum Press

Tragically, Nawakum Press lost its entire inventory of books in the California wildfires of 2017. David Pascoe, the proprietor of Nawakum Press, tells me that, despite that loss, the press continues to pursue its goal of publishing remarkable fine press and artist’s book editions noteworthy for their high standard of excellence and creativity. After garnering additional recognition from winning the 2016 Carl Hertzog Award for Book Design Nawakum Press went on to publish a book of Pulitzer-prize winning Paul Muldoon‘s poetry, matched with new abstract work from master wood engraver Barry Moser, a book with wood engraved jazz portraits by James Todd printed and co-published with Richard Wagener, and a chapter from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Silverado Squatters titled The Sea Fogs.

The last publication, before the wildfire, was poet Jane Hirshfield’s A Kerosene Beauty. It was a collection of new, unpublished poems about loss and the environment, and was accompanied by a number of mezzotints from Sonoma County artist Holly Downing. The book is bound in black Japanese quarter cloth with a stone paper front cover made from actual quartzite rock, with custom paste papers on the back cover. The book, in an edition of 26 copies, is housed in a custom wooden box crafted in Japan and covered in a drawstring bag.

A Kerosese Beauty – Nawakum Press

Nawakum’s newest title, published in 2019, is Bruno Schulz’s short story The Republic of Dreams and is presented in an artist’s book format co-designed, printed and bound by Foolscap Press in Santa Cruz, California. Foolscap and Nawakum last teamed up for Jorge Luis Borges’s The Book of Sand. Bruno Schulz was a Polish writer, fine artist, and literary critic regarded as one of the greatest Polish-language prose stylists of the twentieth century, and is often referred to as the “Polish Kafka.” He was killed by a Nazi officer in World War II on his way home in the ghetto, allegedly carrying a loaf of bread which was payment for painting fairy tales on some children’s bedroom walls. The book is in Polish and English with a new translation by Madeline G. Levine.

This bilingual edition of The Republic of Dreams includes three original etchings by Thomas Wood. Metallic decorative paper covers were produced by Ingrid Butler in Sausalito, California. The book is housed in a Japanese cloth, overlapping double panel box enclosure secured by rare earth magnets. There are three different page sizes. The text is letterpress printed in green and black ink from photopolymer plates incorporating Preissig and Irena typefaces. Vojtěch Preissig was a highly accomplished Czech graphic designer, painter, illustrator, and typographer in the early 20th Century. He participated in the resistance movements of both World Wars and died at the Dachau concentration camp in June of 1944. The Republic of Dreams is thirty-six pages, and measures 9” x 15”. It is printed on handmade DaVinci paper from Twinrocker Paper and Nideggen mouldmade paper from the German Zerkall paper mill. The edition is thirty-six copies, with thirty for sale, and all copies are numbered and signed by the artist.

The Republic of Dreams – Nawakum Press
The Republic of Dreams – Nawakum Press, etching by Thomas Wood

Officina Athelstane

Derek Lamb and his Officina Athelstane first came to our attention with their 2016 publication of Jonathan Swift‘s A Modest Proposal, as seen here. Derek mentions that he has been quite busy at the press along with having had two exhibitions of big letterpress posters: The first tying in with an exhibition of classic fashion photography and the second celebrating aspects of two books of early Rockhampton history. These required a significant amount of classic wood type and overprints/effects, etc. — very hard work on a hand press and very time-consuming!

Recollection Prints – Officina Athelstane

The good news for us is that Mr. Lamb is back now working on a book. It is a long children’s poem titled The Most Tragickal Tale of Elderberg Spillikins by Mark Svendsen (who writes mainly children’s fiction). It will be a 40 page book, done in landscape. Mr. Lamb, with the author, ultimately decided to go ahead with a purely typographic treatment incorporating vintage “found” images from an old collection of advertising cuts. He is hoping for a late this year finish, but more likely to be early 2020.

The Most Tragickal Tale of Elderberg Spillikins  – Officina Athelstane
The Most Tragickal Tale of Elderberg Spillikins  – Officina Athelstane

Old School Press

Martin Ould continues to produce an impressive array of works of significant interest to private press collectors as well as for those interested in printing/private press history. Recent publications of note include:

Alchemy of the Planets combines images by Philip Hughes and poems by the accomplished Mexican poet, novelist and playwright Carmen Boullosa, inspired by space missions past and present. To date Hughes’s subject matter has been terrestrial, but in his new book his reach extends beyond Earth. Alchemy of the Planets has been inspired by the wealth of stunning and varied images from recent missions to planets and moons within our solar system. These include the New Horizons mission which in 2015 gave us our very first close-ups of Pluto, and in 2016 the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Cassini-Huygensmission to Saturn (soon to end), and the probe Dawn to the dwarf planet Ceres between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Philip created a total of thirty-two works relating to twelve planetary bodies, derived from images selected from those sent back by planetary missions, as well as from the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station, images of distant landscapes that have provided the source inspiration for paintings, pastels, and digital collages. Carmen has written a set of short poems in Spanish inspired by the images and in turn Psiche Hughes prepared translations into English. The Spanish and English texts sit together on the page, facing Philip’s image. The structure of the book requires much explanation – best to go to Old School Press to read in detail (select ‘In Print’ on the left menu and scroll down). Suffice to say that the whole has been given a major treatment with a futuristic touch in the form of an aluminum box holding the collection.

Alchemy of the Planets – Old School Press

Philip’s images have been printed on an eight-colour Epson 3800, at The Old School Press and by Philip’s studio manager Amy Petra Woodward at his studio, onto 225gsm Somerset Enhanced Velvet which is then mounted on a stygian-black Vélin Arches Noir paper echoing the blackness of space. This is in turn is mounted on the inner right-hand side of a fold of 330gsm Somerset Velvet, the inner left-hand side carrying Carmen’s poetic response to the image in Spanish and English – pies and cantos. The texts have been hand-set in 18pt Hunt Roman and printed letterpress.

The folds for each planet or moon are connected to form a longer zigzag, each zigzag being held in a fold of translucent paper. A separate eight-page document brings together the title page, a text on the origins of the book, an introductory poem by Carmen (in Spanish and English), details of the interplanetary missions that were the sources of the images, and a colophon signed by the collaborators. All these items are then contained in a case bearing a screen-printed image by Philip on the lid. The case is formed from a lightweight aluminium/polypropylene sandwich and closes with a magnetic catch.

As some of the introductory text, as well as the large titles, could not be set in Hunt Roman, Mr. Ould decided to have them set in Spectrum which was the typeface for which Hermann Zapf designed Hunt Roman to act as a display face. Philip has also prepared two etchings based on his images of Neptune and Pluto; buyers can enhance their copy of the book by selecting one of these for inclusion. Each etching is printed on a sheet of 300gsm Somerset Satin White to the same size as the zigzags, but allowing it to be framed separately if desired, and signed and numbered by Philip within its own edition of thirty. Additionally, buyers can select three of the thirty-two images in the book and receive prints of them, fifty per cent larger in each dimension, printed on 330gsm Somerset Enhanced Satin, signed by Philip, and ready for framing. The edition is limited to sixty numbered copies, of which fifty are for sale at £1,900 each, plus shipping at cost.

Alchemy of the Planets – Old School Press
Alchemy of the Planets – Old School Press, Illustrations by Philip Hughes

The Old School Press has continued its printing history output with three publications since the last update on Books and Vines. The first is Zapf and Stauffacher.

When the Hunt Roman type was first made available to the Hunt Botanical Library in Pittsburgh (now the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation), the event was marked by the publication of a slim volume entitled Hunt Roman: the birth of a type. It noted that the new type came about as ‘the fruition of a combination of ideals, concepts, and convictions of three personalities‘, those personalities being Mrs Hunt, after whom the Institute is named, type designer Hermann Zapf, and typographic designer and printer Jack Stauffacher. The type was first used in 1963, by Stauffacher, for a symposium programme. Intensive research in archives and collections by German typographer and type historian Ferdinand Ulrich has resulted in this essay in which he reveals how the collaboration between Zapf and Stauffacher developed in the 1960s.

Hunt Roman was not designed to serve as a text type, being intended as a display face to accompany Spectrum, and it was originally cut in 14pt, 18pt, and 24pt, though a 12pt was later prepared. We hold the three larger sizes. The essay has been printed on hand-made paper from the Czech Velké Losiny mill and presented as a single section sewn between boards. There is a photograph frontispiece of Zapf and Stauffacher in conversation. Limited to 100 copies for sale, copies are £75 each.

Zapf and Stauffacher – Old School Press

Next is Paper making by hand in 1953. In 1953 English paper-makers J. Barcham Green Ltd issued a modest booklet describing in detail the process of making paper at their Hayle Mill – a small but valuable historical record of actual practice. A thousand copies were printed on Barcham Green papers but, perhaps because of its somewhat ephemeral nature, it is seldom seen. It was reprinted in 1960 and again in 1967 in slightly varying forms, but in this reprint Mr. Ould has returned to the original text. The text was written by John Barcham Green and is splendidly detailed in its description of the process. As such it is an important authoritative text by one of England’s greatest paper makers.

The original 1953 edition included sixteen photographs of the process, showing workers at the mill, poised at the various stages – at the vat, couching, drying, etc. – but they were small and not ideally printed as half-tones. Mr. Ould had better prints of the photographs scanned for giclée printing. The original booklet was constrained in size, so some photographs were severely cropped thereby losing interesting detail, and then printed at a small scale. For Old School’s reprint, Mr. Ould has printed the entire original photograph in each case, without cropping. The text of the booklet has been printed on Barcham Green’s Finale paper – it was the last paper made at the mill before it closed in 1987 – and the cover on their Chatham Royal. Both papers were damped for printing. The text makes twenty pages and has been printed in 12pt Monotype Caslon with the titles in various sizes of Caslon Old Face from the Stephenson Blake foundry. The binding takes the form of a simple case covered in Barcham Green’s Antique Rose, with a pocket on the inside of each board, one holding the booklet and the other holding the sixteen photographs loose together with a sheet of captions. There are 100 are for sale. Copies are £105 each.

Paper making by hand in 1953 – Old School Press

Lastly, Printing at the University Press, Oxford, 1660-1780, volume II: Type. Old School Press published volume I (Premises, People, Paper) in 2016. This second volume is devoted entirely to the University Press’s third major resource: its type. Initially the Press was reliant on outside founders, then had its own foundry and the means to cut new faces, but by the 1730s it had ceased making its own type and was buying from the then established English typefounders, in particular Caslon and Baskerville. The book details that history: the sources and uses of the types the Press acquired. It contains sixteen photographs of contemporary documents and five photographs of ancient punches and matrices. The de luxe edition (£350, versus £75 for the standard) additionally contains a portfolio of leaves from books printed at the Press across the period concerned. The text is set in 12pt Monotype Van Dijck and printed digitally on 148gsm Mohawk Superfine paper. Mr. Ould expects to publish volume III (‘Process’) later in 2019.

Printing at the University Press, Oxford, 1660-1780, volume II: Type – Old School Press
Printing at the University Press, Oxford, 1660-1780 – Old School Press

Old Stile Press

One significant publication by Old Stile Press, since Books and Vines went on vacation, is Talking Through Trees by Edward Picton-Turbervill with woodcut images by Angela Lemaire. The paper is Vélin Arches, the type is Garamond and the artist’s 30 woodcuts were all printed from the wood. The book was designed and printed by Nicolas McDowall during 2016 at The Old Stile Press. The binding was case bound at The Fine Bookbindery, Northamptonshire with papers printed with woodcuts by the artist. The Main Edition consists of 140 copies, numbered and signed by author and artist. It is £295 (plus p&p). There was a special edition with all 30 woodcuts hand-coloured by Angela Lemaire, with the book placed in a lined drop back box, that is signed by author and artist, but that $1395 edition is sold out.

Old Stile Press says of the work:

A thoroughly delightful exploration of trees around St John’s College, Cambridge revealing their importance to a young undergraduate as he entwined the role of organ scholar and music student with his emerging passion to engage with the environment and its preservation. Imagine hearing a theme and improvisations which he might play on the organ – a paragraph on an aspect of a venerable tree on the Backs, a tangential leap to deal with thoughts which arise from characteristics of the nature of growth, or delights of climbing to great heights, then of swimming within dark waters at night, poems spring to mind. Angela Lemaire has followed his improvisatory ideas and made some remarkable woodcuts to enhance the book throughout. The Wordsworth Oak, the Little Lime, the Babington Yew, the Horizontal Willow – themes are stated and progress through moods of anger, rage, sadness, a need for solitude.

Talking Through Trees – Old Stile Press
Talking Through Trees – Old Stile Press, Illustrations by Angela Lemaire

Another major project, completed in 2016, is The Book of Job, with text taken from the King James Bible and linocut images by John Abell. The paper is Canaletto Velino Bianco 210 gsm and the type is Aries. The linocuts are printed directly from the blocks cut by John Abell. The book is bound by The Fine Bookbindery, Northamptonshire, with a blue leather spine and the sides are covered with papers printed in four colors from blocks cut by John Abell within a red slipcase with a label. The books is 80 pp and 13.5×10 in. 150 copies were printed of the Main Edition and copies are available to buy at £295 each. A special edition of 10 copies, at £1350 each, with contained within a ‘velvet’ lined solander box together with 8 original prints on biblical themes by John Abell which do not appear in the book, is sold out.

The Book of Job – Old Stile Press
The Book of Job – Old Stile Press, Illustrations by John Abell

Nicolas McDowall is also in the process of printing Thomas Hardy’s Choirmaster’s Burial with imagery by Michael Onken, an American engraver from Carbondale who previously did images for George Mackay Brown’s play for voices about Selkies, The Girl from the SeaDetails to come soon. In addition, work is proceeding on The Golden Vanity with two color links by a talented young artist named Robin Mackenzie.

Lastly, the McDowall’s are have published four titles in a series of poems and prints, as follows:

Peace in the Welsh Hills, a poem by Vernon Watkins, includes nine hand-coloured prints by Glenys Cour, printed on Somerset Bookwove each signed. A folded sheet of blue Bugra Butten with a verse of the poem faces the image. There will be 26 copies, £850. Old Stile Press tells us of this poem:

Gwen Watkins (The poet’s widow) writes of the weather used as a metaphor for war-torn Europe – ravaged landscapes may recover after a storm but though Birds preen their wings, and irises revive. Not so the cities burnt alive with fire Of man’s destruction . . . the poet mourns for what has been lost from the Europe that he knew and loved before the War. In spite of its title the poem could have been called Peace in Shattered Europe.

What Earth Thought, a sestina by Christopher Meredith, with images by Sara Philpott. Old Stile Press tells us of this sestina:

Christopher Meredith has written a poem in a form which he says, in his Afterword, he had never expected to write. A sestina. In a study of language and its earliest forms, he discovered that a very limited number of words fitted perfectly a poetic form with a complex system of repetition of six basic words. Breath. Earth. Stone. Woman. Hunger. Moon. The outcome he achieves, however, together with Sara Philpott’s imagery, creates a haunting work of imagination and exploration of our innermost thought and feeling.

The Corpus Christi Carol, medieval text with hand coloured woodcuts by Angela Lemaire. The verses of the medieval carol are printed on folded but unbound sheets to face each of eight woodcuts which are printed on separate sheets in black directly from the wood. The prints were then returned to their artist, Angela Lemaire, for each to be coloured by hand and signed. 26 copies at £850.

Hunt’s Bay, a poem by Vernon Watkins, with images by Nicolas McDowall and an Afterword by Gwen Watkins. The nine images by Nicolas McDowall that accompany the eight verses of the poem and act as frontispiece were derived from digitally manipulated photographs and were printed by hand from relief blocks. They are a response to the cliffs, rocks and stones hurled by the wild seas in Hunt’s Bay – abstract forms photographed on a beach to create stark black and white printing surfaces. There are 26 copies at £450.

Pennyroyal Press

Barry Moser‘s Pennyroyal Press will be the focus of an upcoming, detailed Books and Vines article celebrating its illustrious 50 year history. Pennyroyal editions such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Frankenstein, and Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl are all among the true highlights of my own personal collection.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Pennyroyal Press, Illustrations by Barry Moser

Pennyroyal’s next publication, in collaboration with Tom Leech at The Press of the Palace of Governors, is Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave Written by Himself. The edition, available perhaps as early as late this fall, includes fourteen images drawn and engraved by Mr. Moser, and printed directly from the blocks. There is a prologue “freely adapted” from a speech Frederick Douglass delivered on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York in which Douglass asked us: “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” There is also be an afterword by Mr. Moser. The edition is done to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Douglass’ work, and for the aforementioned 50th anniversary of Pennyroyal.

The edition will be of 35 (or perhaps 50?) copies and are printed for Pennyroyal Press by Tom Leech and James Bourland at The Press of the Palace of Governor’s in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The typeface is Pennyroyal Book designed in 2018 by David Ross especially for Barry Moser and Pennyroyal Press. It is used here for the first time to celebrate the 5oth anniversary of the Press. The papers are Zerkall Book and Whatman laid. The marbled papers are by Tom Leech.

Life of Frederick Douglass – Pennyroyal Press, Illustrations by Barry Moser
Life of Frederick Douglass – Pennyroyal Press, Illustrations by Barry Moser

Pennyroyal lists a number of other works available on their website, including the aforementioned Huckleberry Finn in a unique, one of a kind set. Also, you will find L. Frank Baum‘s The Wizard of Oz, with 62 wood engravings by Barry Moser hand-printed in five colors and published in a limited edition of 350 copies.

The Wizard of Oz – The Pennyroyal Press
The Wizard of Oz – The Pennyroyal Press, Illustrations by Barry Moser

There is Oscar Wilde‘s Salome which looks marvelous; Ovid‘s The Amores; Shallowford, a limited edition of the critically acclaimed memoir We Were Brothers (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2015); and a number of others, all listed here.

Salome – Pennyroyal Press, Illustrations by Barry Moser
The Amores – Pennyroyal Press, Illustrations by Barry Moser
Shallowford – Pennyroyal Press, Illustrations by Barry Moser

Pennyroyal Press is (and has been) one of America’s greatest private presses, and there is no question that Mr. Moser one of its greatest artists. Their books are what private press lovers 50 and 100 years from now will be dreaming about. I truly cannot say enough about how phenomenal they are. They are worth every penny.

Prototype Press

Proprietor Mark Sarigianis released the deluxe edition of Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski in 2018. There are a handful of copies left to purchase if you are interested. The edition is printed in an edition of 52 copies, it is 364 pages in length. The typeface used for the text is 12pt Goudy Powell. The running heads are 13pt Headline Bold. The wood type used for the chapter numbers and title page are 15 line Condensed Gothic Bold. It was printed on custom handmade cotton paper from St. Armand. Two watermarks appear throughout the book. One with the initials “CB’’ for the author, the other with “HC’’ for the author’s alter-ego, Henry Chinaski. The illustrations, including the end sheets, were printed in-house from the carved wood blocks of Sean StarWars. Behind the illustrations, printed in black, are three tint blocks in Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. It is quarter-bound in foil-stamped pig leather (obviously), with handmade black paper from St. Armand. It is housed in a black book box.

Ham on Rye – The Prototype Press
Ham on Rye – The Prototype Press – Illustrations by Sean Starwars
Ham on Rye – The Prototype Press – Illustrations by Sean Starwars

There is an excellent video on the making of Ham on Rye, on Vimeo. It requires a password, but Mr. Sarigianis is happy to provide the link and how to watch it by contacting him here.

The press is also working on their next publication slated for release in September, The Art of Wave Riding, by Ron Drummond. The first and only printing was originally done in 1931 and the book is the first manual on how to body surf (see here for an article about the book). The Prototype edition will feature 10 silver gelatin prints by the San Francisco based photographer, Kanoa Zimmerman. It is being printed on custom blue handmade paper and it is handset in 18pt Cooper Black, cast in-house. 

The Art of Wave Riding – In Production at Prototype Press
The Art of Wave Riding – In Production at Prototype Press

Salvage Press

Proprietor Jamie Murphy has completed a number of publications in the couple years Books and Vines has been on hiatus. This includes three stunning books with three poets and three artists: TOWN (of which a few remain), Nine Silences (of which a few remain), and Darklight (sold out).

Dublin city, referred to as ‘Town‘ by locals, is a landscape premised upon a complex history of siege, captivity and desire. In the Irish language, the city takes its meaning from the words ‘dark pools’. In this suite of poems, Annemarie Ní Churreáin honours the pulse and flow of a population which despite an increasingly globalised atmosphere and within the context of an EU border, continues to bear forth the shadows and unique shadowlight of Dublin’s past. Rich Gilligan has captured a snapshot of life in the city, exposing elements of an often overlooked community in the Irish urban landscape.

Designed, type-set and letterpress printed by Jamie Murphy at Distillers Press, NCAD. The type is Adrian Frutiger’s Méridien printed here in 14 and 24 point (the ‘normal’ weight was released by Deberny & Peignot in 1957 followed by the italic in 1966). Rich Gilligan’s photographs were captured in Dublin city over the last days of 2017. They have been enlarged by hand from the 35mm negatives onto resin coated Ilford MGIV by Barbara Wilson at her darkroom in London. The water-marked 200  gsm handmade paper was commissioned for this book from the Velké Losiny Mill in the Czech Republic. Printed in an edition of 80 copies. The bindings were executed by Craig Jensen, assisted closely by Marc Hammonds, at BookLab II, San Marcos, Texas. Copies marked 1 – 50 are bound in painted cloth over boards, housed in a cloth slipcase. Similarly bound, copies marked i – iv are intended for collaborators. Copies lettered A  –   Z are bound in full alum tawed goat and are each housed, accompanied by a portfolio containing eight additional photographic prints, in a painted cloth covered solandar box. A few copies of the standard edition remain at €880.

TOWN – The Salvage Press, Illustrations by Rich Gilligan
TOWN – The Salvage Press, Illustrations by Rich Gilligan
TOWN- The Salvage Press

In a series of poems, titled Nine Silences, Doireann Ní Ghríofa responds to art by Alice Maher. Nine Silences is a consideration of the embodiment of female silence, mermaids, and the monstrousness of the feminine, deepening into an exploration of the otherness of female desire and domesticity.

Designed, typeset and letterpress printed by Jamie Murphy with great assistance from Sarah O’Neill, Lorcan Rush and Lauren Shannon O’Brien at Distillers Press, NCAD, Dublin. The type is hand-set in 14 and 24 point Méridien, designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1954 (this foundry type released by Deberny & Peignot, Paris, 1957). Alice Maher’s fragmented woodcut has been printed from scorched and brushed ash. The 150gsm Hodgkinson handmade paper was produced for the Stanbrook Abbey Press in 1974 and kept dry until now by John Purcell in London. The marbled paper design has been prepared by Jemma Lewis using Irish Carrageen Moss. The bindings were executed by Tom, Pat, Tommy and Patricia Duffy at their workshop in Dublin’s Five Lamps area. Printed in an edition of 80 books. Copies numbered 1 – 50 have been bound in marbled paper over boards, housed in a transparent perspex slipcase. Four similar copies marked i – iv are for collaborators. Copies lettered A – Z have been half-bound in salmon leather and marbled paper and are presented, accompanied by a folded down printing of the complete woodcut (on 120 gsm Zerkall), in a cloth covered solander box. 

Nine Silences – The Salvage Press
Nine Silences – The Salvage Press, Illustrations by Alice Maher
Nine Silences – The Salvage Press

Darklight is a series of ten new poems by John Fitzgerald surrounded with an etching by Dorothy Cross

Designed, typeset and letterpress printed by Jamie Murphy, assisted by Sarah O’Neill, Lauren Shannan O’Brien and Lorcan Rush at Distillers Press, NCAD, Dublin. The type has been hand-set in 14 and 24 point Méridien, designed by Adrian Frutiger, cast here by Rainer Gerstenberg. The image by Dorothy Cross has been produced in two variants; the etching that covers the standard book was printed by Suzannah O’Reilly Mullaney, the phosphorescent images that accompany the deluxe book were first screen printed by Jordan McQuaid before intaglio printing by Suzannah. Both image variants were printed on 54gsm Japanese Tosa Shi. Darklight has been printed in an edition of 80 copies. The bindings have been executed by Tom Duffy in Dublin’s Five Lamps area. Housed in a transparent Perspex slipcase, copies marked 1 — 50 have been printed on and bound in handmade paper commissioned for this book from the Velké Losiny Mill in the Czech Republic. Copies marked A — Z were printed on the Velké Losiny paper, bound in full black Pentland goat, presented in a Japanese cloth covered solander box.

Darklight – The Salvage Press, Etchings by Dorothy Cross
Darklight – The Salvage Press

Shanty Bay Press

Long time readers of Books and Vines know that Shanty Bay Press of Walter Bachinski and Janis Butler is one of my favorites. There is a thorough look at their works on Books and Vines here, as well as a detailed review of their last publication, Venus Poems, here. If you do not have one of their splendid books in your collection, you should! Mr. Bachinski’s artwork is always thought-provoking and beautiful, and the press-work of Janis Butler is equally good. Here is a sampling of their work, just look at how stunning it is!

Venus Poems – Shanty Bay Press, Illustrations by Walter Bachinski
Hymn of Aphrodite – Shanty Bay Press, Illustrations by Walter Bachinski
Georgics – Shanty Bay Press, Illustrations by Walter Bachinski
Eclogues – Shanty Bay Press, Illustrations by Walter Bachinski
Circus – Shanty Bay Press, Illustrations by Walter Bachinski

Shanty Bay’s new book is called STILL LIFE and it is quite different from their previous books. Mr. Bachinski mentions that it:

…is about my personal approach to the making of still life. I have written the text (the hardest thing I have done in many years). The 5 pochoir illustrations are variations on still lifes that I have done over the years that I consider to be important to me as an artist.

The title reflects Bachinski’s interest in the genre of still life and the text is written as a personal reflection on the importance of this art form. Bachinski begins by outlining his development as an art student in Toronto in the early 1960’s and it becomes evident that still life painting was not valued by his teachers or the general artistic community. His passion for still life did not evolve until he had spent a year in France in the late 1970’s. Subsequently, for the next 25 years, the exploration of the genre of still life painting counted for more than half his output. Bachinski then explains his debt to some of the great still life artists of the past such as Chardin, Cezanne, Redon, Braque and Matisse and why artistically he finds the tradition so rich. He concludes by outlining his own studio practice and how he approaches the development of a still life composition. 

This is a richly illustrated book. There are 5 pochoirs, reflecting a variety of approaches taken to still life by Mr. Bachinski over the years. Derived from large, existing paintings, these are by far the most complex pochoirs he has done to date. There are also 7 colour reduction lino cuts. 5 are paired with quotations about, or statements by, the artists who have affected the development of Bachinski’s work. The title page and colophon also have linocut images. In contrast to all the vibrant colour, the text is also interspersed with 5 black and white woodcuts.

The page size is 14 7/8 by 10 inches (37.7 X 25.4 cm.) and there are 60 pages including blanks. The type is hand-set Deepdene, printed on 200 gsm Arches Cover. The lino cuts and pochoirs are printed on the same paper. The woodcuts are printed on Fudagami Oguni (large). The book was jointly conceived by Ms. Butler and Mr. Bachinski. The printing of the text and colour lino cuts were done on a Vandercook Universal 1 by Butler with Bachinski assisting. The woodcuts were printed by Mr. Bachinski on Washington Iron Hand Press. Ms. Butler is the binder. There is a letterpress printed prospectus with a small colour lino cut that goes with the book. The edition is limited to 30 copies for sale and costs $3,000.

Still Life – Shanty Bay Press, Illustrations by Walter Bachinski
Still Life – Shanty Bay Press, Color Reduction Linocut by Walter Bachinski
Still Life – Shanty Bay Press, Pochoir by Walter Bachinski
Still Life – Shanty Bay Press, Pochoir by Walter Bachinski
Still Life – Shanty Bay Press, Color Reduction Linocut by Walter Bachinski
Still Life – Shanty Bay Press, Color Reduction Linocut by Walter Bachinski
Still Life – Shanty Bay Press, Woodcut by Walter Bachinski
Still Life – Shanty Bay Press, Woodcut by Walter Bachinski

St. James Park Press

Following an annual publication program, which started with the Twelve Labours of Hercules in 2017 and On the Birmingham School of Art in 2018, the third book from the St James Park Press, London, will be published in 2019.  An Albion in the Antarctic is the story of the first book ever written, printed, illustrated and bound in Antarctica. The book was called Aurora Australis and is one of the most sought after books of any Antarctic or polar collection. It was printed on an Albion Press in the winter of 1908, during an expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton

The text for this edition was researched from original source material and written by James Freemantle, who has researched and written various articles on the history of book production, specifically those involving letterpress printing since the turn of the century. Surprisingly, most articles written on this subject have been particularly under-researched, so this will be the most authoritative word on the matter to date. 

James provides an Introduction to the edition, with the main chapters on Printing EquipmentPrinting, the Edition, and the Return Home, all of which focus entirely on bibliographic matters. A brief outline is also given of the history of Antarctic ExplorationPolar Printing and the Nimrod Expedition in double page spreads that feature accompanying line-block illustrations. The end-matter for the edition contains a list of institutional copies which hold Aurora Australis, and Further Reading.

The edition is illustrated with a commissioned frontispiece relief print (8” x 6”) by the award winning wood-engraver Paul Kershaw, of Grapho Editions. Three double page spread line blocks designed for this book of a map of Antarctica, a replica of the Albion Press used on the edition, and the Nimrod ship are also included. There are also numerous tipped in and other commercially printed illustrations, some of which are fold outs, showing: title page variants, proof and variant pages, a prospectus for Aurora Australis, the binding, the Albion Press, and other related images. In addition, there are four original photographs from the expedition, printed by a special method of carbon printing, and printed on the page rather than tipped-in; the printing done by Master Printer Alex Schneidemann of Flow Photographic, which is the only UK studio to engage in this process. 

The edition is printed on an Albion Press (1869), all done by hand by James Freemantle. The type, a 14-pt Caslon Old Face original foundry type from Caslon and Stephenson Blake, previously owned by the Fleece Press, is also set by James by hand, and dissed after only a number of pages in light of the quantity of type used (each page has a measure of 36ems (6”), leaded 3pts, allowing for 34 lines, which is a large text block). As well as this, 30pt Caslon Old Face is used for the half titles and chapter headings, along with 48pt Tea-Chest (on loan from David Wakefield of 23 Press), another foundry type from Stephenson Blake, used for the endpapers, as an homage to Aurora Australis, whose binding featured stencilled words as they were wooden boards used from packing cases on the expedition. Lastly, the title is set in a hand-calligraphed version of Chesil, done by Mark Askam of the Chestnut Press for this edition. 

The paper used for the edition is a 145gsm Zerkall smooth white watermarked paper, along with a lighter weight Zerkall blue and dark blue Fabriano Rustica endpapers. The edition also contains a tipped-in watermarked specimen of Abbey Mills Greenfield, as an example of the same watermarked paper used for Aurora Australis. These are from John Purcell Paper. In addition, from a source who used to work at Stephenson Blake, the paper used for the covers is a white watermarked Abbey Mills Greenfield paper, to retain the theme of the paper used on the Expedition. The edition is printed in a mixed “Antarctic” blue for the titles, chapter headings, and line-block illustrations, and black for the remainder of the text. 

The binding is a half bound cloth cover, featuring a repeat pattern designed for the book, utilising the pressmark of the Expedition: two penguins, in red. Bound by the Fine Book Bindery, the edition is housed in a solander box also lined with these repeat pattern papers. The size of the book is over 320mm x 235mm. It is 59pp. The edition is only 40 numbered copies, individually priced at £750 & p+p.

An Albion in the Antarctic – St. James Park Press
An Albion in the Antarctic – St. James Park Press
An Albion in the Antarctic – St. James Park Press, Illustration by Paul Kershaw, this is a photo of the actual block Paul Kershaw cut for part of the frontispiece (the print itself is in fact in multiple blocks)

The St James Park Press has also announced its publication for 2020, an edition of original Clifford Webb wood-engravings printed from the blocks. Featuring 19 original wood-engravings, printed from the blocks by Ian Mortimer and with accompanying text printed by the St James Park Press. The mounted prints housed in a solander box. The edition is limited to 100 numbered copies only. More details of this to follow after publication of An Albion in the Antarctic

Clifford Webb – St. James Park Press, Illustrations by Clifford Webb

Thornwillow Press

Proprietor Luke Pontifell and his Thornwillow Press will be the subject of an upcoming ‘deep dive’ profile on Books and Vines. Therefore, I will keep this overview a bit shorter than it otherwise deserves. Books and Vines has been remiss in covering Thornwillow, and I look forward to righting that wrong!

Founded in 1985, when 16 year old Luke Pontifell printed Hello Sun, a short children’s story by Barbara England, at the Center for Book Arts in New York City where he had taken a course in letterpress printing (he proceeded to bind the book, with help from his mother, on their kitchen table at home!). It was the first publication to have the Thornwillow imprint, which is named after the house in Massachusetts where he grew up. Since that time, Thornwillow has published original work of John UpdikeArthur SchlesingerJP DonleavyEdmund MorrisWarren BurgerLouis AuchinclossJames MerrillHugh SideyDavid Mamet, and Walter Cronkite. In addition, the press has an impressive offering called The Presidential Collection, aptly summed up as ‘Great Historians on Great Leaders.” This letterpress series includes: Abraham Lincoln: Defender of Freedom by Harold Holzer, Thomas Jefferson Illuminated by Wendell Garrett, In Search of George Washington by W.W. Abbot, and other works on John Adams, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt.

Mr. Pontifell often refers to hand crafted works as “objects with soul,” things that are beautiful and timeless. This aptly describes not only the output of the press, but importantly the raison d’etre of its existence. Here is an excellent short video of the press with some words by Mr. Pontifell.

Thornwillow Press

With Mr. Pontifell’s passion for objects reflecting artisanal craftsmanship, “things that last,” it is little surprise that Thornwillow has expanded its range with its 2015 founding of The Thornwillow Institute & Makers Village as…

…a not for profit 501(c)3 organization committed that started with the mission of teaching and perpetuating the related arts and crafts of the written word and the development of the Thornwillow Makers village. Over the years its focus has broadened to support  craftsmanship in all its forms with the belief that craft can also be a catalyst for reviving challenged communities like Newburgh, NY  Thornwillow’s home town. We believe that how we communicate and preserve ideas matters. Objects you can touch, keep, and give are central to the identity of our culture. These objects become the legacy of our civilization. They memorialize our values, triumphs, challenges, and dreams.

Those of us who love and appreciate the ethos of traditional craftsmanship, and the beauty of artisanal creation, can surely embrace and hope for a modern day arts and crafts movement ala William Morris or even an incarnation (albeit more successful) of the Roycrofters. All best wishes to Mr. Pontifell in his endeavors.

One spectacular example of putting this ethos into practice is Thornwillow’s wonderful Seven Towers of Wonder, an edition limited to 350 copies. In this work:

Storyteller Bill Gordh has collected myths and fairy tales from cultures around the world, which we are presenting in seven letterpress-printed and hand-bound volumes, each themed on a different virtue, with illustrations by John Hutton.

As you can see, this is a very beautiful set — certainly an “object with soul” and something that “will last.”

The Seven Towers of Wonder – Thornwillow Press
The Seven Towers of Wonder – Thornwillow Press, Drawings by John Hutton
The Seven Towers of Wonder – Thornwillow Press, Drawings by John Hutton
The Seven Towers of Wonder – Thornwillow Press, Drawings by John Hutton
The Seven Towers of Wonder – Thornwillow Press, Drawings by John Hutton

What especially excites Books and Vines readers is Thornwillow’s ‘Kickstarter’ series. This on-going series provides classic works of literature, as well as originals publications, in productions based on traditional letterpress techniques. I have personally been on-board with every edition since this series started as the selection of works has been incredibly exciting. The series started with The Sonnets by William Shakespeare, with a foreword by Neil L. Rudenstine, as seen here:

The Sonnets of Shakespeare – Thornwillow Press

The series has continued with Sherlock Holmes Hexalogy by Arthur Conan Doyle, with an introduction by Randall Stock; Three War Stories by David Mamet (three original novellas, Mr. Mamet choose Thornwillow Press to print the first edition), with illustrations by Jackson Robinson; Inferno by Dante Alighieri, hand-lettered & illuminated by George Cochrane; Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, with illustrations by artist Irena Martens (Mr. Pontifell’s mother); The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot with an original monograph by Sravani Sen-Das; Beauty is the Beginning of Terror, a anthology of World War I poetry with over thirty poems and excerpts by authors such as Erich Maria Remarque, Guillaume Apollinaire, Wilfred Owen, Edith Wharton and others, compiled by Colonel David Harper and cadets from West Point Military Academy, with introduction by General Martin E. Dempsey; Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; and the latest, Frederick Douglass: Portrait of a Free Man which brings together the powerful Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass with two monographs by Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. As I plan on reviewing each of these individually in the coming months, for now I will leave you with just a few pictures.

Sherlock Holmes Hexalogy – Thornwillow Press
Three War Stories – Thornwillow Press
Inferno – Thornwillow Press
Frankenstein – Thornwillow Press
The Waste Land – Thornwillow Press, Original Monograph by Sravani Sen-Das
Beauty is the Beginning of Terror – Thornwillow Press
Pride & Prejudice – Thornwillow Press

Thornwillow’s seeking of advance subscriptions to fund a proposed work is both a nod to the past (following in the footsteps going back to at least John Baskerville) and, importantly, is what the present and future desires, if not demands. Thornwillow’s innovative use of Kickstarter and Patreon serves as an important, direct and wide means of connection to potential customers, using today’s technology to reach a much broader possible audience then presses prior to this modern age could possibly imagine. While these platforms allow private press lovers to pay for only those works they desire, it also allows Thronwillow to get direct feedback of interest on planned works, not to mention getting sales up front to cover the costs of the projects that meet the criteria of being launched.

Thornwillow also uses technology to produce podcasts that are always interesting and illuminating. Their podcast series, called The Colophon, currently includes interviews with Edmund Morris, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the great biographers of our time; Harold Holzer, one of the world’s leading scholars of Abraham Lincoln, and director of The Roosevelt House in New York City; and Adam Gopnik, mainstay writer at the New Yorker, discussing “everything from becoming a professional writer to life as a dog in New York City.

Mr. Pontifell tells me he is planning on producing about six works a year, which is quite an accomplishment in this day and age. I hope and trust that private/fine press lovers everywhere will support this effort as I believe it is the most important in many decades. This objective flies in the face of the technological atrocity of modern mass electronic publishing. The ethos reflected in all of these private presses in this article is a gift to humanity; not by a Quixotian attempt to impede ‘progress’ by some Luddite-like belief in rolling back reality, but by a confidence that our very future needs and demands objects that are connected to, and reflect, humanity by being the creation of our very hands. Fulfillment of our very existence emanates from the blending of the creativity of humanity with raw materials to give them a beauty and meaning otherwise missing when instead a result of faceless, nameless and ubiquitous mass production. This is the difference between soulful objects versus those that are soulless. Efforts such as those by The Thornwillow Institute (and all the presses in this article) are essential to a future in which humans are in touch with the beauty that is created by our very being.

As for upcoming publications, look for Genesis – each source text will be printed in a different color; Edgar Allen Poe Tales – with Jill Lepore and original artwork by John Reardon (a celebrated tattoo artist); and Agatha Christie‘s Death on the Nile – with photographs, maps and ephemera from Christie’s time with her archeologist husband in the Middle East and an introduction by Andy Reyes who is an Oxford Archeologist and classicist and authority on Christie. Importantly, Mr. Pontifell is very open to ideas for future works, so feel free to comment! I should also mention Thornwillow is launching a chapbook subscription series. Every month they will be delivering chapbooks to ongoing subscribers, which also integrates into their podcast series mentioned above along with other digital content they are sharing. See here on Patreon for more information.

With the impressive array of books Thornwillow Press has published, it is little wonder that Thornwillow books are in the permanent collections of illustrious institutions such as the Morgan Library, the Metropolitan Museum, The Getty, the Smithsonian, the Vatican, Queen Elizabeth II‘ private library, and the White House among many others.

Whittington Press

Another of my favorite presses, John and Rose Randle’s Whittington Press, published in the past year Slow Ride to India. I have spent many, many hours with my copy! The work includes 128 photographs taken during an overland journey Mr. Randle took to India in 1968, via Romania, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and Ceylon. Whittington provides this background:

Once upon a time it was possible to drive from England to India, in the days when there was a Shah in Persia and a King in Afghanistan, and the Khyber Pass was still negotiable. A succession of Land Rovers, VW Campervans, and in one case a Mercedes bus still advertising its destination in Berlin, made the journey in the sixties and early seventies until revolutions and invasions put an end to such adventures. John Randle made the journey with two friends in a Land Rover over a period of six months in 1968/9, taking with him his newly acquired 35mm Canon SLR camera and returning with some three thousand images taken along the way.

On return he spent many hours in the darkroom enlarging a small selection of them onto 12 x 10 ins. Agfa Brovira paper (the same size that they are printed in this book) and for some forty years they accompanied the Randles, and the Whittington Press, from London to Andoversford to Marston, and were then stored away and largely forgotten.

Cartier-Bresson remarked that our final image is the printed one, and finally the economics and image quality of short-run digital reproduction made possible the publication of these 128 images, recording life as observed in Romania, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Ceylon and elsewhere. They freeze events at what Cartier-Bresson named The Decisive Moment, when subject and composition are in conjunction for a fleeting second, the negative is exposed, and the caravan moves on. Descriptive captions attempt to explain the context and whereabouts of each image, but in the main the images are left to speak for themselves.

There are 275 copies, 12 ½ x 12 ½ ins., the images are printed on Tintoretto paper, the text in 14-point Cochin on Hahnemuhle mould-made. Of the 275 copies, 230 copies are half-bound in buckram with paper sides decorated with a pochoir image by Peter Allen, colored endpapers, in a slipcase. Price is £235. 45 copies are similarly bound in Oasis leather, and an accompanying portfolio of six original unused photographic prints, in a leather-backed solander box. The price is £550.

A Slow Ride to India – The Whittington Press, Photographs by John Randle
A Slow Ride to India – The Whittington Press
A Slow Ride to India – The Whittington Press, Photographs by John Randle
A Slow Ride to India – The Whittington Press, Photographs by John Randle
A Slow Ride to India – The Whittington Press, Extra Suite of Prints, Photographs by John Randle

Whittington’s latest, Vance Gerry & The Weather Bird Press, an edition of about 235 copies, is illustrated with many of his linocuts and wood-engravings, for which Whittington has the original blocks. There will be a selection of Gerry’s finest pochoir illustrations reproduced by giclée, as well as some line illustrations, and reproductions of a few of his watercolors.

The text is based on interviews Gerry gave at the University of California in 1989, together with a selection of his letters from then until his death in 2005 to fellow printers and booksellers, and a few personal reminiscences from those who knew him well. It is followed by a checklist of his publications produced over a period of more than forty years compiled by David Butcher. “The book is designed as a tribute to a printer whom we hold in the highest regard, but who is too little known even in his native California.” Furthermore, some background on Vance Gerry:

Vance Gerry began printing in 1963 at the Peach Pit Press. Five years later he changed the name to the Weather Bird Press which he ran in South Laguna, California from 1968. Until his death in 2004 he produced a steady stream (he’d have preferred ‘trickle’) of some of the most understated, beautifully printed and ravishingly illustrated books from any private press, ever. Vance’s lightness of touch, his incomparable facility as a draughtsman, the slightly starved look he gave to the inking of his type, the quiet humour of his writing (when the mood took him), combine together in books that have few parallels elsewhere.

He was undisputed master of the medium of the pochoir, or stencil, technique, and the editions he issued of these, and the other books, are therefore small. The most modest and retiring of men, self-deprecating to the point of carelessness, his work is familiar only to a handful of aficionados over here and in the USA. Nor was he the most diligent of salesmen, and it was often difficult to discover what might be about to come off the press.

The edition consists of 235 copies set in 13-point Poliphilus type and printed on Zerkall mould-made paper. 40 ‘A’ copies bound in full leather, with a portfolio of some 21 booklets and items of ephemera found in Vance’s shop after he died – most were unbound and we have bound them up in his usual understated style. They perfectly catch the essence of his style of printing and illustration. With a separate facsimile of Vance’s Jazz Instruments, generally regarded as the finest of his pochoir books, and a descriptive booklet of high resolution black-and-white photographs of his workshops in their various locations in Southern California. All in a leather-backed solander box. Was £2500, but unfortunately sold out. However, still available are ‘B’ copies (in an edition of 40) bound in quarter leather and one of Vance’s patterned papers, with some 12 items of ephemera, and a facsimile of a pochoir item, in a slipcase. Cost is £950. There is also some availability of ‘C’ copies (in an edition of 155), which is bound in cloth and patterned paper, in a slipcase. Cost is £250.

Vance Gerry & The Weather Bird Press, Whittington Press, Illustrations by Vance Gerry
Vance Gerry & The Weather Bird Press, Whittington Press, Illustrations by Vance Gerry

Of course, Whittington Press continues to publish annually the irreplaceable Matrix, now up to Matrix 35. Just look at the amazing content of this most recent edition:

A Tale of Two Collections, by Sophie Schneideman;  Rambles in Letterpress, by Alan Brignull; With the Gills at Pigotts, by Clemency Stanes; White Line, Black Line, by John Craig;  The Bodoni Museum, by Michael Daniell;  Catterson-Smith’s ‘Little Job’, by William S. Peterson;  Kliluk: Creating an Asemic Alphabet, by Barbara Henry;  The Kliluk Project at Swamp Press, by Ed Rayher;  Peter Scupham, Poet-Bookseller by George Ramsden;  The House where Phil Lived, by Rob Rulon-Miller;  Doing the Odd Linocut, by Frances Fineran; A Tale and its Unfolding, the Final Instalment: Kickshaws at La Maison des Mots, by John Crombie;   David Wakefield’s Type Lore, by Miles Wigfield;  A Young Craftsman at Daneway, by Simon Verity;  Afghanistan – a Journey, by Peter Chasseaud;  Typographical Architecture, by Otto Gobey;  Ina Bandy’s Photographs of Matisse, by John Bidwell;  Star Attraction: Dunbar Hay, by Alan Powers;  Collecting Whittington Posters, by James Freemantle;  Ageing and Building, by Hilary Paynter;  The Allamanda Press, by Paul Hatcher;  Spanning the Decades: Eighty Years at OUP, by Andrew Schuller;  A Typefounder’s Diary, by Nick Gill;  Stanley Lane, in conversation with Sheila Markham; Moving in the Wharfedale, by John Randle;  Book Reviews, by Jerry Kelly, Patrick Randle and John Randle. 

All of this for £90.00. You really must have a copy! The press is currently working on Matrix 36, so keep an eye out for that.

Matrix 35 – Whittington Press
Matrix 35 – Whittington Press

Borrowed Seeds, by Sandy Conners is slated for release later this summer. The book is:

a description of her upstate New York garden, and the memories of family, friends, animals and plants that it evokes, all enhanced by her 23 wood-engravings, breathtaking in their meticulous detail of plants, people and pets. Sandy’s engravings have a style all their own, a New England aura, far form the metropolis, that she has also recreated in her own house and garden.

The starting point for the book were the attractive nineteenth-century letterpress seed packets made by the New England Shakers to sell their seeds, and inserted into the book are four of Sandy’s hand-colored imagined recreations of these packets.

This is Ms. Conners’ second book of engravings for The Whittington Press, following on from Busy as a Bee in 2002. There will be 150 copies printed in Bell type on Zerkall Rosa paper, 32 pp. French-folded at the head so each page is a double thickness of paper. Half-bound in buckram and printed paper covers, in a slipcase, £165.00 (£135.00 pre-publication). Twenty copies similarly bound in Oasis leather, with a portfolio of separate prints, some colored by the artist, in a slipcase £325.00 (£275.00 pre-publication).

Borrowed Seeds – The Whittington Press, Illustration by Sandy Conners

Also being worked on is artist Miriam Macgregor’s third and last pochoir book. More detail on this when it is forthcoming! Lastly, my understanding is that Pages from Presses Vol. 2 is somewhere in the pipeline — Vol. 1 is one of my favorite books in my collection.

The 2019 Whittington Press Open Day, which coincides with the Whittington Village Summer Show, now in its 50th year, is on September 7, 2019. The Press opens its doors at 1pm where they will have a selection of presses and Monotype casters in action. In addition they have invited other letterpress printers, binders and a marbler to exhibit their work in the space outside the Press during the afternoon. Contact the press here for more information.

11 thoughts on “Books & Vines Re-Launch: Private/Fine Press News for 2019

  1. Excellent to see B&V back on full throttle after a long time of having to poke about with individual searches to find the excellent content! Sorry I’m a bit late to the party, but hopefully I’ve made up for that by subscribing, which I should have done long ago. All the best!

  2. This is a huge amount of work you’ve done to relaunch the site and it’s quite incredible the effort you put into it. There really is no other site like yours. Thank you.

  3. Dear Chris,

    Jan and I are delighted beyond measure to find you once more in our inbox. We wish you and Books & Vines long happiness and rude health!

    As ever,
    Crispin Elsted
    Barbarian Press

  4. So glad to have you back! It’s impossible to keep up with the world of private press and you are an invaluable resource. So much has been discovered thanks to your wonderful site that often would have gone unnoticed.

  5. Random Thoughts:

    Reading through Chris’ marvelous review of happenings out and about the world of modern private press books is akin to being the proverbial “kid in the candy store” – too many goodies to choose from. That said, several projects are of extreme interest to me and I will immodestly point them out to give other B&V subscribers and book collectors a “heads up” to investigate them a bit further.

    Alberto Tallone:

    Sadly (for us English-speaking collectors), the venerable Alberto Tallone Editore issues very few books in the English language. However, they DID publish a splendid collection of Emily Dickinson poetry (English language) in 2017, with widely varying price points depending on the specific handmade paper used. The least expensive edition, printed on off-white wove Magnani (splendid) is well priced at 350 euros.

    Barbarian Press:

    What can I say about the Barbarian Press that Chris hasn’t? This is also one of my very favorite current private presses, so much so that I am also a subscriber along with Chris. Although I have not collected any of the books in their Endgrain Editions series and studiously avoid nearly all artist’s books, i.e., books composed nearly exclusively of artwork, wood-engravings, and illustrations with little text, their upcoming Endgrain Editions Five: Richard Wagener (EE 5) will be a notable exception. I consider Wagener to be one of the finest current wood engravers not named Barry Moser on the planet. EE 5 will be quite special because aside from the extraordinary number of engravings included in this book (well over one hundred), all printed directly from the original wooden blocks – which were driven up to British Columbia and hand delivered to the Elsteds by Wagener himself (!) – they will span Wagener’s entire career as a wood engraver, encompassing all aspects of his artistry.

    And, if I studiously avoid collecting Artist’s Books (livres d’artiste) the same can be said about Books About Books. I find reading about typography, printing, etc., equivalent to running my fingertips down a slate backboard with overgrown fingernails. However, once again, the Elsteds will provide a notable exception to my book collecting quirks with their upcoming magnum opus ‘Bordering on the Sublime: Ornamental Typography at the Curwen Press’. Even at this relatively early point in the new millennium, I have little doubt that this book will prove to be one of the most important Books About Books in the first half of the 21st century. The Curwen Press is revered in the United Kingdom for the extraordinary quality of their work and this book has already aroused keen interest on both sides of the pond. As Crispin Elsted mentioned, the deluxe “A” edition is already fully accounted for and I strongly urge anyone remotely interested in this topic to reserve one of the remaining “B” or “C” states. You will not regret it. Frankly, the only private press books in this genre of interest to me are the Officina Bodoni classic edition ‘Manuale Tipografico: 1788’, a facsimile edition of the rare 18th-century Bodoni treatise on typography and (on a smaller scale) a marvelous book entitled ‘Ornata” by John Grice at his Evergreen Press in the U.K. More on the latter in a future B&V article at a later date.

    Foolscap Press:

    I am patiently awaiting my copy of ‘The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Beyond the Holy Land’ (sob!) and I am 99.99% certain this book will prove to be one of the high points of my book collecting in 2019. I cannot recall eagerly awaiting a book’s arrival as much as this one. That said, their next publication ‘Brief Loves That Live Forever’ by Andrei Makine deserves special mention. Makine is a superb writer and his first book in an English translation ‘Dreams of My Russian Summers’ (1997) was outstanding. This is a quirky but an inspired choice for the private press treatment by the Foolscap Press, reminiscent of the care taken by Carolyn and James Roberston at the Yolla Bolly Press several decades ago in their book selections They read avidly and would spend months reading a wide variety of literature, both fiction and non-fiction, before selecting a book for one of their all-too-rare YBP publications.

    Hand & Eye Letterpress:

    After acquiring and admiring Phil Abel’s prior two editions illustrated by Angela Barrett, the marvelous H&E editions of ‘Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ and Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, ANY book with Barrett’s illustrations is automatically of interest. However, a reading interest of mine is the non-combat aspects of World War II as told by ordinary citizens who lived through these times, e.g., I Will Bear Witness by Victor Klemperer, and the memoir ‘A Faraway Country’ by Phil Abel’s late mother, Ruth Boswell, has more than piqued my interest. Combine this with Abel’s outstanding presswork and a suite of Angela Barrett illustrations and I think this will be a book well worth adding to one’s collection.

    St. James Park Press:

    James Freemantle’s upcoming edition ‘An Albion in the Antarctic’, tentatively due to be released in July or thereabouts, is another book I have reserved and am eagerly awaiting. This is a relatively new private press but Freemantle comes at this from two different directions. He is keenly interested in fine typography and is a student of its history, so much so that he is one of the very few private presses working exclusively from the handpress, a 19th century Albion handpress at that. And, although too modest to mention it, he is also a world-class collector of modern private press books with a collection of Golden Cockerel Press editions and ephemera second to none. He fully appreciates what makes a great private press book because he avidly collects them!! He has neither spared nor overlooked any detail in this book and there are too many little touches to mention that will all contribute to make ‘Albion in the Antarctic’ quite special. I strongly recommend reading James’ Instagram posts, including one in which he describes tossing everything printed to date and starting over because he was dissatisfied with his initial choice of handmade paper stock. Serious collectors should look into this one, both for a topic of historical interest and a superbly designed and crafted private press book.

    Thornwillow Press: Chris Adamson will review their recent offerings over the past several years in great detail in an upcoming article but the one I wish to draw your attention to is their 7-volume collection of folk tales from around the globe entitled ‘Seven Towers of Wonder’. Each volume contains seven tales themed on a single virtue and and it is also a livres d’artiste book with a profusion of illustrations by gifted children’s book illustrator John Hutton with an illustration on nearly every page. This is an outstanding contribution to the genre of folk tales and oral histories and it will provide a lifetime of fascinating reading. Similar to any classic collection of fairy tales & folk tales this is not meant to be read at one sitting cover-to-cover. Rather, it should be delved into periodically at random intervals. The 7-volume edition in letterpress-illustrated paper wrappers is attractive and attractively priced at $840 for the 7-volume set of books. Considering that these books are printed letterpress and this project was nearly a decade in the making, this is a genuine bargain. Highly recommended.

  6. Chris,fantastic to see the relaunch of B&V. Looking forward to the upcoming reviews by yourself and dlphcoracl.

  7. Great to see that you’re back and as energetic as ever Chris. Very best wishes from Dublin town.

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