An occasional newsletter about forthcoming books and events

November 2017


progress on
Alchemy of the Planets

Images and words inspired by planetary missions

planned for early 2018

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Work is now nearing completion on this exciting new title. In particular we have finalised and printed the definitive set of Philip Hughes's digital images and completed the letterpress work.

After much preliminary collaboration by email and Skype, the scene was set to close in on final versions of Philip images, Carmen Boullosa's poetry, and Psiche Hughes's translations. Philip, Psiche, and Philip's studio manager Amy Petra Woodward spent two days down here at the Old School Press adjusting the colour of the images and printing proofs to Philip's satisfaction, whilst Psiche finalised the poetry texts with Carmen by email.

We can now announce details of the book's construction.

Hughes’s images have been printed on an eight-colour Epson 3800 here at The Old School Press and at Hughes's studio onto 225gsm Somerset Enhanced Velvet which will then be mounted on a stygian-black Vélin Arches Noir paper echoing the blackness of space. This is in turn will be mounted on the inner right-hand side of a fold of 330gsm Somerset Velvet, the inner left-hand side carrying Boullosa’s poetic response to the image in Spanish and English – pies and cantos. The texts have been hand-set 18pt Hunt Roman and printed letterpress at The Old School Press.

Where a planet or moon has more than one image, the folds are connected to form a longer zigzag, each zigzag being held in a fold of translucent paper. A separate four-page document brings together the title page, a text on the origins of the book, an introductory poem by Boullosa (in Spanish and English), details of the interplanetary missions that were the sources of the images, and a colophon signed by the collaborators. All these items are then contained in a case bearing a screen-printed image by Hughes on the lid. The case is formed from a lightweight aluminium/polypropylene sandwich and closes with a magnetic catch.

As some of the introductory text, as well as the large titles, could not be set in Hunt Roman, we have chosen to have them set in Spectrum which was the typeface for which Hermann Zapf designed the Hunt Roman to act as a display face.

Philip has also prepared two etchings based on his images of Neptune and Pluto; buyers can enhance their copy of the book by selecting one of these for inclusion. Each etching is printed on a sheet of 300gsm Somerset Satin White to the same size as the zigzags, allowing it to be framed separately if desired, and signed and numbered within its own edition of thirty by Philip. The two etchings can be viewed by following the link to the entry for the book at our website.

Additionally, buyers can select three of the thirty-two images in the book and receive prints of them, fifty per cent larger in each dimension, printed on 330gsm Somerset Enhanced Satin, signed by Philip, and ready for framing.

The edition is limited to sixty numbered copies, of which fifty are for sale at £1,900 each, plus shipping at cost. (Given its price, Subscribers to the Press are not obliged to take a copy of this title but will of course receive their normal 15% discount if they do decide to take one!)


a further batch of copies bound for
Tonge's Travels

A Victorian travel diary

now available

I bought the manuscript diary - of which our book is a faithful transcript - in the hope that the traveller who wrote it had visited Venice. Alas, he hadn't but his exploits on his way from England to Greece and back make this a wonderful read for the armchair traveller.

It's possible that the diarist is George Tonge who at the time - 1857 - was up at Lincoln College, Oxford. Having failed to persuade friends to join him on a steamer heading for Vastitza in search of a cargo of currants, he went on his own as one of a handful of passengers on the screw steamer Avon. No credit cards, no smartphone. Instead, some letters of credit and introduction, a pair of pistols, and the innocence of youth. That honeymoon couple upstairs - what were they doing, seemingly moving the furniture around all night? On board the air is foul enough to persuade him to sleep on deck. And Mr Box has brought his violin to play.

Braving falling lava on Mount Etna, swimming with sharks, failing to enjoy retsina ('very bad both in flavour & for health'), enduring horrendous seas, mocking the foreigners, dining with the English Consul ... - today's gap year is nothing new when it comes to adventure. And all this crammed into the ten weeks of the Long Vacation.

The manuscript itself is, we read, a neat transcription from the original 'scribble'. We can imagine that a diarist of that time might well have also recorded some scenes with watercolours, quickly executed. The book deserved illustration and artist John Watts provided us with twenty-four wonderful watercolours and sketches exactly as they might have been done, en plein air, during the voyage. Here is one of Tangiers where Tonge (if it was he) stopped off at on the return voyage

Why not read an excerpt at our website - just go to the coverage of the book and then click on the 'excerpt' button. Copies are again available at the knock-down price of £80 - a Christmas present for an arm-chair traveller this year?


How we price our books

A curse on currency fluctuations!

a small change

In the past we have always quoted our prices in pounds, euros, and US dollars, fixing each on publication. Small currency fluctuations have meant that sometimes we win a bit and sometimes we lose a bit but we reckoned it useful and fair to all in the long run.

However, the considerable swings that we have seen recently (and which we expect to continue), in the value of the pound in particular, have meant that sometimes our prices are unfair to customers and sometimes unfair to us, depending on the day of the week! So we are now only pricing in pounds. We can now take credit card payments online, and we will invoice in pounds. Customers preferring to be invoiced in their own currency simply need to let us know and we will issue an appropriate invoice.

Please note that prices on our website supersede those on printed announcements. Planning and producing a book is a variable affair and much can change between the prospectus and the book. We will however, as always, keep our sterling prices fixed whilst a book is in print.

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2017