THE OLD SCHOOL PRESS

Notes on the Press's resources

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The main press for books and posters is a big Western proof press. The press was acquired in 1999 from John Pitt who used it at his Beeches Press. The bed is 30" wide, so printing on an SRA2 sheet is quite comfortable. It is very simple: the only powered item is the main inking roller under the rolling assembly visible here. The cylinder is wound down and up the press by hand. (I have uploaded the spares manual for the press here.)
Every printer should have a hand-press - we have a fine Albion. This Albion is a 'Royal', denoting the size of the bed as capable of taking a sheet of paper of that size, 21x26 inches. It was originally from Oxford University Press, where it was probably used in one of the composing rooms for proofing.
The first press we acquired was a 15" by 10" Chandler & Price treadle platen, made in 1910. I bought this press, not really knowing what I was buying, from a local jobbing printer who had renovated it. All of my books up to and including Venice Visited were printed on it. Getting an even impression over the page can be hard work and it is really a one-page-at-a-time machine. It is now used for smaller items for which it serves very well.
Our main typefaces in case are Caslon, Perpetua, Van Dijck, Hunt Roman, Octavian, and Fournier. We have useful quantities of these types in 13pt and 14pt - good sizes for hand-setting - plus a range of other sizes to support the needs of book printing. (That said, A Long Story used only one size of Fournier, and Tonge's Travels only one size of Centaur.) Our Caslon and Perpetua founts are mostly Stephenson Blake, the Hunt is from Stempel, and the others are all Monotype. Altogether we have about 200 cases of type from 6pt to 72pt, including a useful collection of ornaments.
For big books, we have our type machine-set on the Monotype. We use Stan Lane at Gloucester Typesetting, or Harry McIntosh near Edinburgh for our machine casting. Where a book starts in digital form, we often take advantage of Harry McIntosh's system that will cast direct from digital copy without keying.
Like most printers we have many flowers and ornaments just waiting for their day. Our books tend, if anything, to be rather unornamented, but when you need an ornament, you need one that is just right and a good collection from which to select is essential. A lot of our flowers formerly belonged to Mark Arman.
The same is true for paper. The typeface is one of the more evident features of a printed book, but there is also a wide choice of papers, from the finest tissue to the heaviest etching papers, from the silkiest to the roughest handmade. The paper for a book must be chosen with the text and the typeface in mind.

Copyright Martyn Ould 2004-14.