A title from The Old School Press 

The Fell Revival

The story of the revival of the Fell types in the 125 years from 1864, by Martyn Ould and Martyn Thomas

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About the book

Out of print

Anyone turning the pages of Stanley Morison's magnificent volume John Fell, the University Press and the 'Fell' Types published in 1967 would be justified in thinking that the last word had been said about Oxford University Press's Fell types. But Morison and his collaborator Harry Carter were mostly concerned to chronicle the origins of the types. After their 'rediscovery' at O.U.P. in the form of punches and matrices in the 1860s, the types saw a gradual revival, started mainly by the Reverend Henry Daniel at Worcester College, Oxford, who obtained some founts and used them for fifty books of poetry. By the time St John Hornby had also acquired some founts and used them for ten books at his Ashendene Press at around the turn of the century, O.U.P. saw the potential in the types for their own use and for others, and there began a revival which continued until the close of the Printing House at Oxford.

Martyn Thomas and I started with the modest aim of cataloguing titles printed in Fell during that revival. However, as our researches progressed in the O.U.P. archives, at Worcester College, in the Morison and Meynell archives at Cambridge, and at the Bodleian Library, we found ourselves uncovering a fascinating story of the revival: of the problems faced by the O.U.P. Type Foundry in casting new type from the 'ancient' and often faulty matrices, of the use of the types by the 'amateurs' Daniel and Hornby and some other surprising names, of the impact of Horace Hart's management on the operation of the Press, and of life at the Press around the turn of the century. Before long, the intended handlist with short introduction had become a major book with a handlist as an appendix, a list that surprisingly exceeds 250 titles.

The story ranges across that list, from the magnificent Yattendon Hymnal to the less so Book of Happy Gnomes, and features en route a talented amateur Reverend Provost-Printer, an unauthorised use of the types, a clash between typographer and artist, and a tragic suicide. The book documents for the first time an important chapter in the history of one of the greatest English presses, and highlights several intriguing mysteries, which the authors hope readers may help to solve.

This is the contents list:

1. The origin of the Fell types
2. The Press and its people
3. The shape of the Revival
4. First in the field: The Daniel Press
5. Grandeur: The Ashendene Press
6. Sarah Prideaux
7. Meynellís Romney Street Press
8. Robert Bridges and Fellís music type
9. O.U.P.ís own use of the types
10. The printing of Morisonís John Fell
11. O.U.P.ís use of the types for others
12. Ephemeral items
13. Work in the O.U.P. Type Foundry
14. Castings of the Fell types
15. Horace Hart
16. A handlist of books printed in the Fell types since their revival
Sources and References

A sample opening with one of the tip-in specimens

About the edition

The book is printed litho in 11.5/15pt. ITC Galliard CC on a demy quarto page of Mohawk Superfine paper. There are 350 copies, each of which contains eight tipped-in type samples printed at The Old School Press on hand-made papers from pre1989 Oxford University Press stocks using the remaining founts of Fell type, together with 18 pp. of photographs of archive materials. 204 pp. Approximate size 290mm by 220mm.

BINDING A.  Fifty copies bound in quarter-leather, the boards covered with paper marbled by Ann Muir in a seventeenth century style but with a twentieth-century flavour. Each copy contains an additional portfolio of about twenty type facsimile and original pages printed using Fell type, including displays of the remaining Fell flowers; all the new items are printed at The Old School Press, except one from a Daniel Press book which is printed by the authors at the Bodleian Library on the Reverend Daniel's hand-press. Book and portfolio come in a slip-case. The price was £180.

BINDING B. Two-hundred and fifty copies bound in full blue cloth. Endpapers and dust-jacket are in Colorplan. Paper spine label. Standard copies were £75. A further fifty copies were reserved for binders in folded and collated sheets, £45 per set.

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