I’ve started printing the new book and don’t really have much to share, so in the time-honored fashion of new media, here are some lists, all pertaining to fine press books & printing....
A. The five books to have if you are interested in contemporary handpress printing:
1. Printing with the Iron Handpress (Oak Knoll, 1998). Anyone who claims to be interested in “fine printing” should at least skim this book.
2. Printing with the Handpress (Allen Press, 1969). Get the original if you, not the facsimile, so you can actually see what you’re reading about.
3. On Printing (BCC, 1992)
4. The Technology of Hand Printing (Abattoir Editions, 1980)
5. The Officina Bodoni: The Operation of a Hand-press... (At The Sign of The Pegasus, 1929).
B. The five books to have that people will have never seen:
1. Seven Pillars of Wisdom (US copyright edition)
2. Agrippa – A Book of the Dead.
3. The Earthly Paradise, that complete edition with all of Burne-Jones’ illustrations.
4. Kafka: An Ancient Manuscript (Aliquando Press, 1997). There are two books in this list I own; this is one of them.
5. William Everson’s “Baby” Psalter. I had the “complete” version for a few years (eventually sold with some of the proceeds used to acquire F.3, below), of which there were 48. I saw a baby listed in a catalogue once, but never since & never an actual copy.
C. The five books I should have bought in 1995 so I could reap the capital gains now:
D. Five books I had & wish I hadn’t sold (or sold too soon):
1. Moby-Dick (Arion Press, 1979). There was a copy for $6,000 I seriously considered for about a minute that year, but it probably would have precluded the down payment for a house a few years later.
2. Neuromancer (Gollancz). I had a choice between this true first (in the boring Gollancz yellow jacket) & the much flashier American first, a limited edition. Both same price. I live with the shame of my choice (but not the book, it left years ago).
3. Just about anything from Kelmscott or Doves.
4. Any of the signed books from Michael J. Thompson’s catalogue of unique William Hope Hodgson books.
5. The facsimile edition of Stehen King’s My Pretty Pony, which were being remaindered all over the place.
1. Frankenstein (Pennyroyal, 1983). I found a sort-of cheap copy at Powell’s back when you could take in a few boxes of decent books and get a grand in trade. But the quarter leather binding was a problem: where the cloth overlaid the leather, the edge was left exposed & it would fray easily. Poor workmanship for an otherwise monumental book.
2. The Man Who Died (Yolla Bolly Press, 1992). I must have had a fever.
3. Tower of Babel (Janus Press, 1975). Another fever. Found for a pittance on the shelves of Powell’s, back in the pre-Internet days when the shelves were stuffed with treasure.
4. Shadow Over Innsmouth (2002 edition). I traded my last copy away for my first deluxe Gehenna publication, which turned out to be a pretty commonly found book.
5. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (UK first) truth be told, its endpapers had been renewed by the bookseller from whom I bought it. It was my first lesson in binding: he sliced the book out of its case, tipped new endpapers to the text block, then pasted them back into the case. I was agog.
E. The five books I should have not bought in 1995:
1. Neuromancer (Phantasia Press, 1986). See above. One point, whether good or bad depends who in the family you ask: it was the first time I paid more than $100 for a book, and it took some time to talk myself into it. After that the flood gates opened...
2. Typologia (U California Press, 1940; edition of 300 signed copies). I didn’t know it was supposed to have a (signed) colophon – these were early days for me. When I discovered the leaf had been sliced out, I contacted the (Seattle) bookseller – who’d priced it as if it were complete – but they told me to eat it. Unfortunately they’re still in business and their reputation has not improved. The book’s great but I wish I didn’t have a defective copy!
3. (title withheld) I was still very new to printing & press books and was easily beguiled. This one was a very small edition, recently published, with etchings (yeah!), bound in a side-stab fashion between actual wood boards (completely inappropriate for the kind of paper used)... It was a learning experience.
& etc. There were lots of others but most are long gone & forgotten.
F. If I could only keep five of the books on my shelves, they would be:
1. Printing with the Handpress
2. The three Doves books in brown morocco: In Principio, Credo, and Laudes Creaturarum.
3. More Dark Than Shark (cloth edition, with print by Russell Mills). When I got the paperback version, in 1986, I noticed mention of a cloth version. That actually was one of my first instances of noticing not all books are equal.
4. An Essay on Typography (1931, Sheed & Ward). Even tho Gill was a despicable human, the content & production of this book are inspiring.
5. Zapf’s Civilité Disclosed (Gehenna, 1995).
G. My five favorite HM books (in chronological order):
2. XI LXImos
3. Aurora Teardrops
2015–2020 I had a good run.
H. The five books I hope to acquire in the next year:
No comment, but there aren’t five, just two.
Don’t take parts B thru F too seriously. Next month: maybe some images of the new project.