A title from The Old School Press 

Oxford's Ornaments

A survey and display of the typographical ornaments at Oxford University Press 

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About the book

Out of print

The text faces that Bishop John Fell acquired for Oxford University Press in the seventeenth century have always had a special attraction for typophiles and, over the decades, have had their due attention. By contrast, the ornaments that Fell and others collected for use at Oxford University Press have received relatively little coverage.

The majority of the type that escaped the smelter at the closure of the Printing House in 1989 was for setting text, but there are in fact around eighty founts of ornaments still in packets. We were delighted to have been given permission by OUP to prepare a small edition showing these remaining ornaments.

The book provides a simple display of each of the extant ornaments, printed using the actual type, with brief notes on each drawn from Stanley Morison’s coverage in his John Fell, the University Press and the ‘Fell’ types and Horace Hart’s catalogue in his A Century of Typography. In particular, the notes for each ornament cover its origins where known, and give details about the punch and/or matrix for it where they are still in OUP’s possession. The book contains a number of typographical arrangements drawn from one of OUP’s own pattern books, fifteen photographs of original materials in OUP's archives (punches, matrices, type specimens, etc), a facsimile of Horace Hart's Synopsis of Fell ornaments printed on a Simili Japon as a fold-out, and further arrangements on a paper hand-made by Batchelor for OUP. 72pp.

Printing the ornaments presented some technical problems, since all type at the University Press at Oxford was set on a higher body than conventional English type. You can read about some of the difficulties created by following the clippings in the archive - click on the 'cuttings' button above. And there are a number of photographs showing some of the materials we worked with in a sequence that you can reach with button below.

The de luxe binding of the book

About the edition

The text was machine-set in 13pt Monotype Van Dijck and was printed letterpress on a demy quarto page of a quantity of an antique Rives BFK paper. The book was case-bound in full cloth, and was uniform in size with our previous titles on OUP (282mm high by 225mm wide). The end-papers and dust-jacket were of Hahnemühle Bugra Bütten. The price was £95 (€160/US$210) plus shipping at cost. Some customers who have collected our de luxe editions of our earlier books on OUP were able to request their copy to be bound in quarter-leather with an Ann Muir marbled paper on the boards and presented in a slipcase (£140). Sets of sheets were also available (£60).

There was an edition of just 123 copies, with most going to subscribers, each of whom received an ad personam copy, named and numbered in the press. There were 74 copies in the standard binding and 42 in the de luxe, with seven sets of unbound sheets being sold to binders. 

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