Paper Should Not Always Be White

Continuing work preparing for our metal types sample book. Right now it looks like it will contain 16 different primary faces, augmented by perhaps 10 secondary (generally smaller in size, smaller in quantity available, too ugly or not ugly enough for a page of their own). Some of the primary faces to be shown are Anker Romanisch, De Vinne (the original), Unciala and American Uncial, Gallia, Rubens, Monument and Verona.

Rather than simply displaying the alphabet with each face, the plan remains to use the letterforms to create multi-colored patterns or borders, accompanied by a brief quote that is somehow related to, or reflective of the face. The types will be printed on eight different papers (most of them vintage handmades), and so the page size will vary from 6 x 9 inches up to 7 by 10 inches. There will be a deluxe issue, which will have an additional section (probably three signatures) printed on an 18th-century laid paper. More about that later. Those copies will be bound in quarter leather by Claudia Cohen; the "regular" copies will be cased in marbled paper over boards at HM. We hope to issue the book in early fall, 2013.

That deadline got pushed back a little last week, when our search for interesting quotes to use with the types led to D.B. Updike's essay "The Seven Champions of Typography," and revived the idea for a project we've long wanted to undertake. The fifth section of Updike's essay discusses the effect paper has on a typeface (he makes particular reference to Caslon, as an example). While working on Elements in Correlation, we considered experimenting with printing the same forme on a series of different handmade papers, to see how each responded to damping and printing. Just a few days before reading Updike's essay last week, a friend reported acquiring a large collection of vintage handmade papers, but not enough of anyone to use on a book project. With the perfect text in hand, and access to a unique collection of papers to conduct the experiment, our friend was recruited and the project launched. 

Paper Should Not Always Be White (the title is taken from the essay's opening line) will consist of Updike's comments set in 10-point Caslon on a single page, repeatedly. Each four-page section will be made up from a different handmade sheet in folio (we anticipate a page size up about 5 x 7 inches). The first recto of each section will identify the paper, and the following recto will present the extract. (We'll add some simple flower arrangements to the two versos in each section, just for fun.) The paper's will all be dampened the same way (between boards), and printed with the same ink on the same forme in the HM handpress. So far we're up to 12 different papers, but we're still snooping around. The edition will be limited by whichever paper we have the fewest sheets of, but we're expecting to produce around 25 copies. Claudia Cohen, who shares our passion for paper, has agreed to bind the edition, uniformly, in quarter leather.

We expect to have copies of Paper Should Not Always Be White issued by the end of the summer.