A title from The Old School Press 

On Books

The creative work of Susan Allix with a catalogue raisonné, by Simon Shorvon

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About the book

To be published 8 December 2023 - orders taken now

Susan Allix has been making Fine Press Artist’s books for fifty years and in this time has produced seventy-seven titles, as well as nine children’s books and special bindings for thirty-eight other books. A graduate of the Royal College of Art and a recipient of the Prix de Rome, she has been called ‘the greatest bookmaker of her generation’ – a claim that calls for this timely authoritative work on Allix and her books.

Himself a collector of her work, Simon Shorvon has undertaken extensive interviews with Allix, and joined her in an examination of a complete series of her books as well as her archive, correspondence, and sketch books. The result, On Books, is being published in this limited edition to mark those five decades of book-making. It provides a detailed appreciation of her output, background to her life and training, coverage of her collectors, booksellers, and auctions, and a list of ninety-nine public collections around the world that hold her work.

Importantly, the book contains a fifty-page, detailed and comprehensive catalogue raisonné of her entire output, something that will become an important resource for bibliographers, librarians, booksellers, and collectors. This in turn is supported by a separate volume - A catalogue of fine press artists books from 1973-2023 - a photographic catalogue containing over 300 photographs covering all of Allix's books.

Allix is unique in creating her books in their entirety. She designs and prints all the images by hand, prints all her text by letterpress, binds her books often in complex and spectacular leather designs, mixes her own pigments, writes some of the text, has created several new letterforms, and on occasions has included her own hand-made papers.

Her intaglio and relief images are made with a startling variety of techniques, often in complex combinations in one image. Her bindings frequently involve different types of leather and paper with superimposed silver, other metals, and found objects. She uses many decorative and printing papers in her books. She is a colourist creating colours of deep intensity and feeling.

The themes of her books include the relationship of time and space, travel, the cycles of nature and transience of beauty, and the ancient world. Some texts are literary and scholarly, with a penchant for the antique, the orient and the classical, architecture, and poetry.

The importance of her work as a book artist has taken it into major libraries world-wide as well as into private collections.

About the edition

The text of On Books has been set in Monotype Dante and Optima on a generous page of 270 mm by 215 mm, with sixty coloured and black-and-white illustrations of her work supporting the text. Just 100 numbered and signed copies have been Indigo printed on 140 gsm Fedrigoni Arena. The full-cloth, sewn, and cased binding carries the title on the spine and comes in a laminated dustjacket. 196pp.

The 140 page photographic catalogue includes a specially editioned letterpress print with added pochoir and hand colouring and a glassine dust jacket for protection. There are 100 numbered and signed copies. It is set in Univers and printed on Fedrigoni Arena paper in a size of 270 x 210 mm with a typographic paper cover.

The price of the two books as a package is £150. A copy of On Books on its own is £120.

Find out more about the book

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View a sample opening from the catalogue raisonné (PDF):

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