The Printer in Bronze

That’s what was staring back at me when I was cleaning my roller one day last month. Never looked better...

The start of fall seems a good time to offer some details on what HM will be up to for the foreseeable future....

The summer was spent printing HM = XX, a.k.a. Checklist No. 4, a.k.a. This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven. It is a bibliography of the 62 books published by Heavenly Monkey and HM Editions (2000–2020), the listings liberally interleaved with samples from 16 of the titles. The edition is 40 copies, the first ten being issued in a box along with additional samples. The books will be quarter bound with papers that have been painted and printed. But not till early next year: the sheets have been tucked away, as I must immediately turn my attention to printing another book...

Paper Botanists will be the debut publication from Barbara Hodgson’s imprint, Byzantium. Her ongoing collaboration with Claudia Cohen continues, this time exploring “everything to do with paper and botany, especially the arts of illustrating plants on paper: drawing, painting, printing and photography.” The text covers these media across eight chapters, each one to be illustrated with samples culled from historical sources (e.g. prints from broken copies of notable herbaria) and original works created by the authors. I’ll spend the rest of this year printing the book (8 x 12 inches, 50 pp. + samples), then there will be some months of assembling and binding, so the edition of 30 copies should appear by early summer 2022. Shortly after copies of HM=XX appear on newsstands everywhere.

There are a few other projects bubbling...

Two short stories (details TBA) to be issued in a simplified dos-à-dos format, each featuring a color frontispiece by Walter Bachinski, editioned at his Shanty Bay Press. (Fall 2022)

An account of Reg Lissel
s adventures in papermaking, printed on his lovely HM Text wove sheet, and featuring many samples. Maybe well ask Andrea Taylor if we can re-use her linocut portrait of him from Elements in Correlation (above). (2023?)

An English translation of a 19th century French commentary on fine printing. (2023?)

Please don’t ask for more details, each new title will be fully announced when it is ready for issue. Now, I have to get busy or B&C will yell at me....


Out With the Old, In With the Older

[This post ☟ has nothing to do with that ☝︎ image, but this isnt the place to come for narrative cohesion. Scroll down to second last paragraph to see how you can help clear space...]

I think the resource-gathering phase of my still vaguely defined Gutenberg project has come to a logical completion, with the addition of Joseph Ames’ Typographical Antiquities (1749). I found a lovely copy. I wanted this book, rather than the more expansive Dibdin version, because I simply prefer the printing, the paper and the types. To my eye, an increasingly mechanical ugliness crept into English books in the 19th century, and the paper often was not nearly as good as that used in books from the previous century. 

Most of the book consists of short biographies of printers, ordered chronologically, along with lists of their publications. 

Some of these biographies include woodcut portraits, which came from the Harleian collection. This collection was purchased by the British Library four years after Ames' book was issued. It's not clear whether he purchased the blocks from the estate, or  borrowed them. I guess if they're included in the BL's holdings, it would be the latter, but I can't be bothered to chase that down today. It's hot and muggy. 

This device has been penciled on to the front flyleaf. Someone who acquired the copy in 1946? 

I also added a copy of Gerard Meerman’s Origines Typographicae (Hague, 1765). This is the text that was translated (in greatly condensed form) in Bowyers’ Origin of Printing. My copy is ex-library, but aside from (too many) Brooklyn Library blind stamps, it’s in fine condition, and interesting to examine next to the Ames: the paper, printing and type are all superior, but English printing almost always comes up short during that period. I’m not exactly expecting to muddle through the main text, which is in Latin, but the many references and footnotes will be useful for pointing me in directions. Plus, it’s a cool book. 

As my book interests become increasingly antiquarian, I become increasingly impatient with books outside this realm taking up space on my shelves. To that end I have just posted a number of new titles to the Etc. page on the HM site, books that need new homes, and which I have tried to offer at tempting prices (if insufficiently so, we can talk). Please take a look, tell all your friends etc etc. Unfortunately, with this lot I’ve culled about as much as I can without cutting into specific topic areas. 

Here’s something that might be of interest, one of the best gifts I ever received, courtesy of Will Rueter: a set of four brass rules or varying widths (1/8 inch, 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4). Infinitely useful, especially when when making cases and boxes.
(Also great for holding pages flat while taking photos.) No measuring, just lay one of these down and make your marks. Especially useful for setting the joint distance between spine and board, if the joint is 1/8 or 1/4 inch; too often mine end up being 3 or 5/16, and in those cases I turn to my almost-as-useful table saw set-up blocks. These are pieces of aluminum precisely machined to widths from 1/16 to 11/16 inch, which can be used singly or combined. Available from Lee Valley.