A title from The Old School Press 

Making Paper at Abbey Mills

Instructions for making paper from esparto grass, and more, printed on a selection of Abbey Mills papers

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About the book

In print

Abbey Mills was a paper mill in the Grosvenor Chater Group which closed in the 1990s. Situated in North Wales, it took advantage of good water and a port nearby that could bring in raw materials. In the last century it specialised in high-quality papers such as Basingwerk Parchment, Greenfield, and Royal Cornwall which it introduced in the 1920s. A speciality of the mill was making paper from esparto grass.

Amongst the archives of the mill we found a typescript, written in the 1920s by the then manager, describing in some detail the processing of the esparto grass, and this text is at the heart of our new book. It has of course been printed on a stock of Basingwerk, a fine and quite heavy, opaque paper with a creamy colour. We also acquired a collection of a dozen batches of coloured papers from the mill and so looked for a way to incorporate them. For some time I've had a copy of the Abbey Mills paper specimen book produced in 1958, with texts and illustrations designed to show off their range of papers. Whilst we don't have such a range, we've used the coloured papers now here at the press to make something along the same lines.

One of the pages from the book

About the edition

For the material printed on the coloured leaves we've taken our inspiration partly from samples in the original specimen book and partly from the 1950s period itself: the 1951 Festival of Britain, the 1953 Coronation, typefaces and texts from the period, various Curwen 'dashes', the two-element Glint ornament, and a personal favourite, the Festival display face; and it's been an opportunity to pull out many of our text founts - Dante, Perpetua, Octavian, Caslon Old Face, Fournier - all hand-set of course. The main text is set in 12pt Romulus with Optima headings. The whole thing runs to 64 pages and is case bound with a letterpress-printed pattern-paper on the boards.

The edition consists of 65 copies of which 60 are for sale. Copies are 85 each. 

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'splendid', 'lovely', 'delicious', 'a splendid publication', 'terrific', 'a gem, a treasure'

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Copyright Martyn Ould 2023