Thanx Santa

Found under the tree on Xmas morning, A Specimen of Some Printing Types in Use at the Alcuin Press, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, and a note on the Press and its aims. It opens with a page of glorious 72-pt Cloister, followed by a spread in 36-pt, and then a spread with the roman and italic in 18-pt. Poliphilus and Blado in two sizes, followed by Caslon in several sizes also appear. The text is a single essay that provides some history and commentary on the faces shown, along with statements of principle in the matters of printing, paper and binding.

The Alcuin Press was a commercial concern modeled after Chiswick and Nonesuch, attempting to bring the best possible craftsmanship and materials to its work. According to Court Barn - A Museum of Craft & Design in Chipping Campden,

"The Alcuin Press was started in 1928 by Herbert Finberg (1900-1974), a Roman Catholic friend of F. L. Griggs. It was housed in a malt-house behind Elm Tree House, High Street, Chipping Campden. Unlike Arts and Crafts printers who printed by hand for their own pleasure, Finberg used modern machinery and worked for commercial publishers. But he cared just as much about quality. The press was sold in 1935."

While books printed at the Alcuin Press are not uncommon, this printing sample appears to be. The book is squarish octavo in size, a single signature of 16 pages, printed on Batchelor's Kelmscott paper in an edition of 50 copies. Bound in quarter marbled paper over thin boards, with a linen back. The text makes reference to planned future specimen books exhibiting the press's collection of ornamental initials, borders, and type flowers "designed specially for use at this Press." No idea if these subsequent samplers appeared. But a lovely book to spend a quite Christmas afternoon enjoying.


Chris Stern's Foundational Type Foundry

Printer Chris' Stern's legacy lives on! His former partner, Jules Faye, has sent out this notice with details for the planned opening of the C.C. Stern Type Foundry in Portland, OR. Chris and Jules published many interesting and innovative books during the 1990s and early '00s, before his untimely death. Great to see all this equipment, and Jules' expertise, still at work. Note than in addition to soliciting cash donations for the foundation's start-up and ongoing costs, there is a "wish list" of equipment they need.


A (New) Letter from Edward Johnston

Received in the mail this week was a package full of surprises from The Aliquando Press. Will Rueter has issued a previously unpublished letter by calligrapher Edward Johnston, printed here in facsimile on a sheet of Barcham Green Medieval handmade paper.

Will discovered the letter years ago at a book fair, tucked inside A.R. Ashbee's copy of Writing & Illuminating & Lettering - score! The bulk of the 27-page book is taken up with an insightful essay about Johnston, providing some context for the letter. And, there's an original two-color wood engraving portrait by Will of E.J. The collection of papers combined in the book alone make it a joy to leaf through: Nepalese for the case, Hahnemuhle Archive for the text, the BG (printed damp), and some kind of a gampi for the engraving. Another lovely publication from TAP, issued in an edition of just 40 copies. And it's priced at just $95! But Will's never charged enough for his books.

Also in the package was a copy of Will's ninth books, Poe's story The Cask of Amontillado, published in 1965 (just a few months after HM was born....). We admit to having been gently pestering Will about the possible existence of a copy for some time now, and finally wore him down: a note tucked into the copy that arrived reported that it certainly is the last copy.

Perhaps Will had been reticent about sharing a copy of such an early work, as he was understandably still perfecting his presswork. But he shouldn't feel apologetic: one might niggle about the printing only if comparing it against what he later achieved, but the book itself shows the early blooms of taste and style that would come to characterize TAP's publications.

There were a few other recent additions to the HM library. Printing on vellum has long been an interest here, considered by many to be the pinnacle of challenges in handpress printing. Printing on Vellum is also the title of a small pamphlet reprinting an exchange of letters between Daniel Updike and C.H. St. John Hornby on the subject. The pamphlet is set in Centaur and printed damp on (unidentified) handmade paper, in an edition of 25 press-lettered copies. It is an immaculate little production, issued by the Wind & Harlot Press in 1976. An Internet search suggests that this was an early imprint of Bob Baris, but the e-mail link on his current Press on Scroll Road site is dead, so our inquiry remains unanswered.

HM has never been reticent about expressing our admiration for the work of Gabriel Rummonds, or our regard for the man himself. But is the little pamphlet above, displaying 10-, 12- and 14-point Spectrum (roman and italic) on a single french-folded sheet, issued in an edition of 70 copies to celebrate Abe Lerner's birthday in 1978, really worth almost $1,000?! That's what the other copy listed on Abe was priced at when we ordered the one shown above, priced much, much, way much less.


Small, Colorful Wunders

Having perfected and streamlined her technique with the big copies, Barbara Hodgson practically tore through coloring & embellishing the eight miniature copies of The WunderCabinet. (Ten actually, with the two printer's proof copies she kindly undertook as well.) She sent along these photos of completed miniatures, displayed with their full-size progenitors. Still no definitive plan on what to do with them, except that a copy will accompany each of the authors' deluxe boxes, and the publisher's as well. That leaves five in play; watch this blog for details of how and when they will become available.

We asked her for a few comments about the book (in its two forms). She replied with the following:

"Who knows what drove me to tackle the creation of this 33%-of-full-size book, when most of my resources (motor control, eyesight, patience) had already been expended. Ultimately, it must have been the challenge, combined with an enduring fascination for miniscule handmade objects.

"The eight copies took about five days to embellish. The small version is an almost exact replica of the larger one and includes a pressed Dicksonia antarctica fern, a working volvelle and a magic lantern slide of natural history images.

"Claudia Cohen will be joining the madness and binding these copies once she has finished binding the full-size edition."

HM checked in with Claudia this week. The black leather has arrived from Harmatan for the deluxe copies, and the those boxes are well underway. We had expected to be debuting one of the regular (1/20) copies at Codex next February, but now Claudia's thinking that we may have a deluxe one (1/10) ready for display. Either way, the book will be at Vamp & Tramp's table when Codex opens on February 6.


Pressure Printing

Purely by happy coincidence, last weekend we stumbled across a passing mention of Pressure Printing, Brad Keech's studio specializing in fine prints by contemporary artists. HM's interest was piqued because most of the artists he has worked with are recruited from the worlds of graphic arts and comix, i.e. Jim Woodring, Tony Millionaire, Gary Baseman and Kim Deitch.

A fellow handpress printer (he uses an Albion), Brad's Denver studio is also capable of intaglio printing. His background is in marketing and design (he currently handles most of the design work for artist Mark Ryden's Porterhouse imprint & online shop), and he brings these talents to Pressure Printing, working with the artists not just on the technical aspects of the print, but also designing and making custom frames or packaging (for lack of a tony-er word) for each project, such as Mark Mothersbaugh's "Grandma Cyclops" (above & below; "Grandpa Cyclops" shown at top, appeared a few years earlier).

Pressure Printing's site offers an excellent overview of the its publications since starting, in 2002. Brad averages a few prints per year, with editions ranging from a handful to 100. He seems to have attracted a loyal following, as most are O.P. No books per se, but several portfolio collections, at least one of which (the deluxe edition of Baseman's Unattainable Beauty) could be described as an artist's book.

The site also links to a blog that is full of additional details and asides about projects. It's worth poking around in: the June 2009 archive includes details of a project that seems characteristic of Brad's interest in the exactitudes of printmaking. The print, titled "Kindling," was created by artist James Jean for a fundraiser held at Pixar Studios,  with director Hayao Miyazaki, to save the Totoro Forest. It's a diptych intaglio print, overprinted in relief (polymer) with a second color, issued in an edition of just 10 copies.

It's always energizing to encounter someone like Brad who is so clearly dedicated to the demands of traditional printmaking techniques, but using them to create contemporary work that pushes at the edges of form and content.


Small Wunders

Printing The WunderCabinet took three months in the HM studio earlier this year; one day last week we printed off eight more complete copies. Chalk and cheese: these latest copies are shrunk down to what felt like 2-pt type, pages small enough we could print two entire signatures (8 up) on one sheet (vs the 2-up folios printed for the edition).

Why? is the obvious question. The answer has faded from recollection, but ties back to Barbara & Claudia's first collaborative book, The Temperamental Rose (2007). For that book, Barbara had made a miniature mock-up as a reference for the printer. When the project was wrapping up and we were collecting all the bits, we asked if HM could keep the little dummy. Surprised by our interest, Barbara instead proposed making three proper miniatures, one each for HM, Claudia and herself. Here's what she came back with:

The book, which measures 2 x 3 inches, is complete in every aspect, right down to the hand coloring, embellishments, pop-ups and even the glass vial of dry pigment. But all that work on pages that were, at the end of the day, just printed digitally. Thus, in the early days of The WunderCabinet, some wise-ass suggested doing this again, but this time with the text printed letterpress. Always being up for a challenge like this, Barbara had polymer plates of each page made, shrunk down to about 30% of the original size. When Reg Lissel completed the paper for the book, we culled some of the 100% linen sheets that were particularly thin. And there it all sat, as HM avoided the issue and did other things. But a promise is a promise, so last week we finally set things up in the press, damped the tissue-thin paper, and got down to the work.

The type on the plates was so small that positioning the eight pages to ensure correct margins & back-up was tedious and strained the eyes. We weren't sure just how the very small pages, with lines that were already very fine in the full-size version, would print; perhaps not at all, or perhaps as a muddy stain.

One of the advantages of printing on dampened paper is that significantly less ink is required to achieve crisp letterforms, and this is especially important when the letters are so small. To our pleasant surprise, the plates printed wonderfully. The biggest challenge was that the paper would begin to dry in the short time between pulling the first impression, re-inking the type, and turning the sheet to back it up, so careful haste was required.

Seven signatures of two sheets each took about eight hours to print off (five sheets printed for each signature). Most of that time was taken up with just getting the pages correctly positioned. Two days later the sheets were dry, pressed, and ready for trimming and collating. Barbara and Claudia have plans to bind up eight copies, the pages hand-colored and enhanced just as they are in the life-sized edition. We hope they do not lose their eyesight on such distractions.


Big Printing

Over two days this past week we printed the broadside Uncommon Deities, with a text by David Sylvian and illustrations by Astushi Fukui. In a previous post about this project, we stated it was just our second attempt at a broadside. That's incorrect; it's our third. We'd forgotten about this lovely Alice broadside printed for Mariko Ando.

Uncommon Deities was, however, certainly the largest piece we've ever printed on the Washington. The sheet measures 22 x 15 inches; the text area is 16 x 9 inches. The set-up of the press had to be completely changed to accommodate the piece. The platen bearers had to be relocated to fall outside the area of the sheet, and the points had to be positioned on the far side of the tympan, where the top of the sheet would be (the top inch of each sheet, where the pin holes lie, will be trimmed off). None of our roller bearers were long enough for the form, so we had to cobble a straight run of 20 inches on either side of the forme from shorter pieces of 12-pt rule.

The text lies in two columns, each with one or two lines that extend well beyond the rest. This always makes even inking and impression a challenge, but five hours of makeready and using layers of tape to build up the roller bearers at the extremities of the forme evened things out. So, having started at 9:30 a.m., we were able to begin pulling usable impressions by 3 p.m. The edition is 30 copies, but with three runs per sheet and our general ineptitude, we printed 50 to allow for spoilage. We finished printing the black shortly after 8 p.m. on the first day. Nothing happens quickly at HM.

The text was set in 14-pt Dante and Dante Titling. The 200-g Arches paper was printed damp. Using quite a dry ink slab, the roller was charged twice for each impression (we ascribe to Harold McGrath's strategy of using as little ink as possible on the roller, and building it up on the letterforms with successive passes). The photo above shows part of the ink slab, the roller, and the two piles of paper during the last run: the sheets to be printed (covered by damp towel), and the printed sheets (stacked between blotters, the first step in drying them down).

The second day went more quickly, with just two lines of red in the second run, and two lines of small type (the copyright & limitation statements) printed in blind at the bottom. The photos above & below show a sheet in the press after the last run.

The sheets must now circle the globe to be signed first by David, and then Fukui. Will spent the weekend building a big box strong enough to protect them during their travels.


Beeing with Joe Average

You know Xmas is coming when you receive Joe Average's e-mail announcing his annual sale. Visitors to Vancouver Intl. Airport may have seen some of Joe's prints, such as the bees (below), or be familiar with the postage stamp he created for the XI International Conference on AIDS 1996. Older hipsters might even have noted his large canvas that hung behind the coffee bar in the television show Friends for a while.

Joe's art is unique, vibrant and joyful. And these are proper prints, not reproductions: the stone lithographs were, we think, printed at the now defunct Prior Street Editions gallery in the 1990s, and they skillfully translate the colors and tones characteristic of his paintings to a new medium. HM has long wanted to recruit Joe for some kind of book-ish project that drew on his talent and facility for printmaking. Perhaps our new Artist Pamphlet series would be a suitable forum to start...

Joe doesn't seem to have been as active, at least in printmaking, in recent years as he was in the 1990s. One day these editions will run out, and everyone will talk about how they could have bought one of his prints - on sale! - but kept putting it off....


Two Cool

Two new books that caught our attention recently...

The first is from Jason Dewinetz's Greenboathouse Press, Alphabetum Romanum, an instructional treatise on the correct rendering of Roman capital letters, writtten by Felice Feliciano in c.1460. The press' site includes a summary of the project, and Jason's journey through redrawing the letters and printing each in multiple colors.

Jason was in town for the Vancouver book fair a few weeks ago, and very kindly dropped off a copy of AR. It is by far the most substantial publication to date from his press, sewn by Jason and put into a stiff case of Reg Lissel's handmade paper. While Jason developed a reputation for his typography and design skills with his Greenboathouse Books imprint over the past decade, those books were all produced digitally; it is only in the past year or so (with the imprint renamed to Greenboathouse Press) that he has been working with letterpress, and his printing is admirably good and consistent for someone who has not yet logged that many hours at his press (much better than most of the HM books produced in our first few years).

Issued at C$300, this edition of Alphabetum Romanum is more affordable (& available) than the Officina Bodoni's 1960 version, and, being the first in a series of Renaissance alphabet books to come from GP, will no doubt become increasingly sought after as people attempt to assemble complete sets in the future. Copies are available directly from the press, with a discount offered for subscribers to the series.

The second new item is the latest from David Esslemont's Solmentes Press: Florilegium Solmentes, "a portfolio of 24 unique ‘digital’ flowers created from ‘nature prints’ of leaves, from scanned petals and from other parts of plants."

HM was first introduced to David and his work in the mid-1990s, when he came to Vancouver to talk about his work at the storied Gregynog Press, and give a workshop on the basics of bookmaking. He's an engaging and entertaining speaker under whose direction the press issued some stellar books. For reasons unknown to us, he & the press parted ways shortly after, and he has gone on to start his own imprint, Solmentes (and in our opinion, Gregynog has not since done work nearly so interesting or exacting as when David was there).

David is a rare commodity in the fine press world, in that he essentially is an artist who has developed a master's skills in the crafts of printing and binding (if you wonder at this, visit the Bookbinding pages at his Web site, solmentes.com).

(if you wonder at this, seek out any of the bindings he designed for deluxe copies of Gregynog books). While some may lack enthusiasm for digital printing, in David's hands the potential of the technology, and the unique possibilities it can offer, are undoubtedly fully explored to create prints that could not be made any other way. Which is, after all, what printmaking should always be about.

Florilegium Solmentes is available as a suite of prints accompanied by the book The Making of Florilegium Solmentes, priced at $4,500 (edition of 10 suites). The book alone, issued in an edition of 30 copies (10 to accompany the suites), is available for $300.


Our Second Attempt at a Broadside

After too long a delay in production (HM's fault, no one else's), we are pleased to announce that HM will be publishing a broadside featuring a text titled "Uncommon Dieties" by David Sylvian, and an original drawing titled "The Botanist"  by Atsushi Fukui (whose work has been featured on David's albums Blemish and Manafon, both released by his label samadhisound). This project was sparked thanks to Harold Budd, who mentioned HM's interest in publishing something to David. The text - sort of a free-verse rumination on the artist's work, influences, and influence - was originally written as an introduction for a catalogue to be published in conjunction with a show of Fukui's work, but that publication did not materialize. At David's request, Fukui created a large drawing (based on the original painting, also titled "The Botanist," shown below) around which the text will be arranged on the broadside, and several incidental drawings of mushrooms.

This will be just the second proper broadside ever attempted at HM (the first being the Tabula Smaragdina Hermetis [The Emerald Tablet of Herme] for Ouroboros Press some years ago). The sheet will measure 20 inches wide, 13 inches tall. The text is set in Dante and Dante Titling, and will be printed at HM in two colors on dampened Arches paper with the Washington press. The edition will be just 30 copies, signed by the author and artist. For all intents and purposes, this project will be hors de commerce: the edition will be shared equally among the author, artist and publisher. A few copies from HM's share will be offered to our regular customers.

Printing will be completed before the end of October, but then the sheets must circumnavigate the globe, to be signed by David and Fukui, so it will be some months before we have finished copies in hand. But we look forward to showing it off when the time comes. Meanwhile, check out some of the very cool new releases, like Sleepwalkers, from David's label.


A Birthday Bouquet for Bob Reid

This is Robert R. Reid's birthday. How fitting that it coincides with the opening of a new show of watercolors by his one-time partner in printing, Takao Tanabe. We'll be enjoying a dinner, and then attending the opening tout en masse. Although the last thing Bob needs is another book in his apartment, HM found one that was too appropriate for marking the occasion (& sufficiently diminutive) to pass up: Printers' Flowers - Whimsicalities from the Windsor Press.

The book is a slim 16mo (18 pp.) published in an edition of 150 copies in 1933. It is quarter bound in cloth with a patterned paper printed in several colors. Part of the great fine press community that was so intensely active in San Francisco during the early 20th century, the Windsor Press was the imprint of two Australian brothers, James and Cecil Johnson. They seem to have started work around the mid-1920s. In 1929 they became one of the first "second generation" printers (the Grabhorns, John Nash and Taylor & Taylor being the first) tapped to print one of Book Club of California's limited editions (Witter Bynner’s The Persistence of Poetry). The Johnsons' imprint continued to appear on BCC books and ephemera up to 1943. Lawton Kennedy worked for the Johnsons, at least during 1929, when he is credited as pressman on Nocturne in St. Gauden's.

The little volume at hand was written by brother James, and set in Nicolas Cochin, although a number of other types makes appearances throughout. It essentially is a brief history of printer's flowers, and how their style and use have reflected typographic trends through the years. The writing is as florid as the title, and often interferes with whatever point the author is making. But the book is redeemed by its playfulness of design and color. A visual delight to mark the birthday of a man whose love for type and typography has spanned his entire nine decades. Happy birthday Bob!


Another Lowe at HM

Professional musician, avocational binder and chronic bibliomaniac Keith Lowe was at HM the other day, sewing up the edition of Harold Budd's 4. It was through Keith that we were first introduced to Harold, back in 2008, and so it was appropriate (and always fun) to have him involved in this latest project.

As the first volume in what will be the occasional, ongoing Artist Pamphlet Series, 4 will serve as the format model  for future collaborators: a single signature, two sheets (8 pages). Thus, sewing the edition of 50 copies (plus 10 A.P.) was not terribly onerous for Keith, which is good because his window of availability between tours was tight. He'd just come back from several weeks playing U.S. gigs (including a Jimmy Fallon show appearance) with Stone Gossard's band Brad, and he now leaves for a few weeks touring Holland with Jim Byrnes, Steve Dawson, and The Sojourners.

While working at the studio, Keith treated us to several tracks he recorded with Harold at a session in Seattle last January (release plans still TBD), and tracks from a session of Keith alone playing piano, recorded a few years ago. Fantastic stuff. Music for binders.


Francesco Griffo Rediscovered

Scans of the entire contents of the Francesco Griffo - Fragments and Glimpses, published in 1999 by HM's precursor imprint, have been posted on Simon Fraser University's special collections site. We'd forgotten giving permission for this, & discovered its presence only when hunting around for samples of Tak Tanabe's printing (see the last post). We're also a little confused about the identity of the felon shown in the photo beside the HM heading, and what his relationship might be to us. Perhaps he is one of the people who helped move the Washington into the HM studio (an event that, oddly, antedates the Griffo project by about two years).

Griffo was one funky project, begun in the earliest days of our exploits with printing: set in 8-pt type (Bembo) and printed on a Kelsey 5 x 8 tabletop. And to make things really interesting, the paper (Lana Wove) was dampened (truthfully, it often was wet), which further funkified progress. But beautiful bindings by Natasha Herman and Helene Francoeur. Its many setting & printing flaws aside, this remains - as far as we know - the only book publication dedicated to the life and work of Aldus' typecutter.


A Takao Tanabe Treasury

Best known now as a painter of muted and sublime Canadian West Coast vistas, Takao Tanabe paid the rent during the earliest days of his career as a job printer in Vancouver (having been introduced to the trade by Robert Reid). Under his own Periwinkle Press imprint he issued a handful of poetry chapbooks and broadsides, in addition to titles produced for other West Coast literary publishers. As illustrated in a new book featuring many samples of his printing from those days, he brought an artist's sensibility and creativity to his work, producing typography that ranged from austere to playful.

Printing ceased to be part of Tak's creative life about 45 years ago, but his reputation as a designer with type persists. Tak recently donated a large collection of his printing work and ephemera to Simon Fraser University. Drawing from this extensive collection, Robert Reid and the Alcuin Society have just completed Takao Tanabe: Sometime Printer reproducing a selection of examples from the SFU collection. From the book's prospectus:

"Tak not only printed books, which one expects from a “Private Press,” but was a master at Job Printing. His typographic imagination could run riot, producing an abundance of invitations, birth announcements, Christmas cards and ephemeral printing for Vancouver’s sophisticates, who had the sensibilities to recognize a master at work in the 1950s and '60s." 

Sometime Printer is 156 pages of reproductions from books and job printing, all in full colour, with 19 tip-ins. It is similar in format and production to the Alcuins' previous publications, Duthie Bookmarks and Dorothy Burnett Bookbinder. The edition is 50 copies, priced at $185.00. Contact --- for further details, and inquire about the possibility of obtaining a copy signed by Tak. Or, get one before October 26, when a show of new watercolors by Tak opens at the West Vancouver Gallery, and ask him to sign your copy at the opening.


A New Book from Sarah Horowitz's Weisedruck


An new artist book by Sarah Horowitz from her press, Weisedruck. With poems by Sarah Lantz and remembrance by Eleanor Wilner

Archeologies of Loss deals with collective memories, their loss and disintegration but also their rediscovery and unearthing through individual histories - those of Sarah Lantz and her poems. Lantz, who passed away suddenly in September 2007 just after the publication of her first book, Far Beyond Triage, explores themes of the passing of time, absence, deterioration and loss in her poems.

Seven poems by the late writer Sarah Lantz were reproduced from her book Far Beyond Triage with permission from Calyx Books and her family. Eleanor Wilner wrote the remembrance for this collaboration of words and images in memory of Sarah Lantz. Ten etchings were drawn, etched and printed by Sarah Horowitz on handmade Japanese gampi paper. The Centaur types were cast by Michael & Winifred Bixler and printed on Somerset satin wove paper by Art Larson of Horton Tank Graphics in Hadley, Massachusetts. Julia Weese-Young (a former apprentice of Claudia Cohen's) boxed and bound the book at her home in St. Louis, Missouri. Archeologies of Loss was designed and produced by Sarah Horowitz of Wiesedruck in Portland, Oregon. The edition is 25 copies (plus several proof copies for the collaborators). An additional set of individual etchings has been printed in an edition of 12.

More details can be found at the Weisedruck site. Sarah does beautiful work, and her books are always exemplars of the crafts involved. 


A Printing of Poetry That's Odd

An unusual item recently added to HM's collection of books about printing: Walter de la Mare's The Printing of Poetry, a paper read before the Double Crown Club, London 12 February 1927. Printed for the Club at the University Press, Cambridge by W. Lewis 1931. Issued in an edition of 90 numbered copies. It's a simple 16mo in size, 34 pages, cased in blue cloth adorned with just a leather spine label stamped in gold. The printing and paper are nothing special.

De la Mare (1873-1956) was an English poet and novelist who probably is best remembered today for his supernatural fiction. The first half of the text is given over to much false modesty and bloviating at the feet of his audience, before arriving at his central point:

"The very glimpse of verse, then, on the printed page extorts a definite response in the mind...If, however, we detest the very word poetry, the more a book looks like a book that contains it the more odious will that book appear to be. If we delight in poetry, the more abject will be our disappointment on finding that the verse within is merely rouge, patch and powder."

Here's a line we liked, the author quoting an (un-named) member of the club: "Poets are best bound hand and foot."

It's only in the last seven pages that he gets down to the topic at hand in real terms, and then only by offering a paragraph each to such topics as type, setting, layout etc. (He skips right over printing.) And here's an interesting little bit of disingenuity:

"It is something of a mystery who buys limited and expensive editions of books - since men of taste are seldom greedy of publicity; it is even more of a mystery who reads in them."

Disingenuous for two reasons: one suspects that many of the members of the Club he was addressing had at least a few limited or expensive editions on their shelves; but more to the point, those editions are exactly the manner in which one is most likely to encounter de la Mare today! Lots of limp vellum and gilt edges out there with his name stamped on the spine.

Despite its lack of real insight to the design concerns of printing poetry, and general oddness, a fun little addition to HM's library.


Vancouver Fares Well

The first book fair held in Vancouver for about a quarter century seems to have been a success. A couple of exhibitors told HM that sales were slow, but when don't booksellers say that? (Although the summer of 2010 does seem to have marked a new low for booksellers across the board.) A collection of photos from the fair can be seen on the Alcuin Society's Flickr page. All of the exhibitors were Canadian (the sales tax issue making participation by foreign dealers too much hassle). Traffic was neither crushing nor sparse, but appeared constant on the Friday afternoon and Saturday. The show leaned heavily toward travel/exploration, modern firsts and true antiquarian items; there was essentially no contemporary fine press material on offer.

Charles van Sandwyk and his partner in Savuti Press, Waisiki Doughty were there (as part of Joyce William's booth) with a large selection of Charles' books and prints, including a copy of the out-of-print deluxe issue of Wind in the Willows, issued by the Folio Society in 2008.

Steve Lunsford had just a few items on offer, each one unique or essentially so, such as a signed, presentation large-paper copy of On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures by the father of the modern computer, Charles Babbage. It was accompanied by a hand-cranked computer of German manufacture c.1900, a thing of Art Deco beauty (and function, above).

John King had a copy of the Aldine 1518 edition of Opera Omnia Soluta Oratione Composita in a period binding by Courtland Benson (who was responsible for rebinding and restoring the collection of Aldines presented to Simon Fraser University in the 1990s). The book was printed in the Aldine italic, and concluded with a simple colophon over which each of the sorts in the font (i.e. including the ligatures) were simply displayed on a few lines.

A visiting bookseller had on hand a copy of Humphry Ditton's 1712 edition of A Treatise of Perspective  Demonstrative and Practical, extensively illustrated. This was of interest because of HM's upcoming project with sculptor Geoffrey Smedley, which will draw from a long essay exploring aspects of portraying, or representing, perspective. The Treatise on offer had recently been rebound in a manner that may not have been entirely successful from a historical perspective, but was nonetheless a tempting book. 


Additions to HM's library were limited to a single, inexpensive item: the 1964 edition of Wm Blake - Poet/Printer/Prophet, purchased for details included in the introductory essay about Blake's printing methods. Inexplicably, this otherwise well-produced book basically is perfect bound, with the text printed on folios that are not sewn, but simply glued up (and thus, popping loose). But it was cheap, and an interesting companion to one of the jewels in HM's collection, the Gehenna Press edition of Poe's essay Anastatic Printing.

Don't know what, if any plans the Alcuin mob has to repeat the fair, but hopefully this latest incarnation was sufficiently successful to justify a second. Perhaps they will alternate years with the Alcuin Wayzgoose. Be interesting to hear how the Toronto fair compares in a week's time. HM hopes to have one or two agents file reports.