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.