Santa Better Get It Right This Year!


When I first started printing, for reasons I cannot remember I was under the impression printers typically produced some kind of Christmas/New Year ephemera. Maybe that's because it was 1997 and that was the year I was hanging around Barbarian Press, and they printed a little chapbook to send out to friends and patrons. It was a short poem (I think?) by John Clare, with a wood engraving and a patterned paper wrap. I don't have a copy and I can't find much mention of it online, but maybe that was the seed. 

So I ended up doing five or six Christmas “books,” finally stopping when I realized how much work they were, and people didn't really seem to care that much anyway. That up there is the cover to the last one I did, and here's the inside:

It was printed on paper that fell out of an early 17th century book, that I dyed black. 

Since before I knew him, the most excellent Shinsuke Minegishi has done a special engraving to mark the start of each new year, all of them including a snowman. One day (soon?) we might publish a collection of them in a book. I have to remember to follow up on that. I have to call Shin too, it
s been a long time. 

Some of the most commonly encountered Christmas keepsakes were produced by A.R. Tommasini, who started his career as a compositor at the University of California Press, and fell into some early renown for setting the original printed version of the U.N. Charter (see here for a few details). His first xmas book was issued in 1948, and he continued until sometime in the ’70s (possibly 1980, the search results are ambiguous), the editions ranging from 50 to over 900 copies. 
All the ones I’ve seen were cased in printed boards, small but not quite miniatures. In 1962 he issued one with linocuts by Vancouvers George Kuthan, with a second (different) edition in 1968.

Every year David Clifford’s Black Stone Press (i.e. his kid, Yasmine) would print a calendar to mark the new year; here are a couple...

One of the fun things with books is, you can find a rabbit hole to fall into anywhere you choose to look. Try a few variations of Christmas “private press” keepsake in Abe and see what turns up. J.H. Nash – always on the hunt for rich commissions – printed a bunch. From 1929–1931 Frederic Warde designed at least three xmas books (maybe five? and there’s a ’31 EncschedĂ© version – was he involved with that?) featuring stories by Washington Irving – figure out what all the permutations are and run them down! Or ask Santa to.