A listing of all our out-of-print books

Use the 'history' button to the left for a complete list of titles.

Index to out-of-print titles

Venice Approached
Ruskin approaches Venice by gondola
The Bricks of Venice
A study of Venetian brickwork in words and watercolours by Peter Harris
The Fruits of Jane Austen
Extracts from her letters and novels, with wood engravings by Simon Brett
Twelve Poems
Verses by David Burnett with wood engravings by Sister Margaret Tournouer
view the book itself Venice Visited
Extracts from Coryat's Crudities with pochoir by John Thornton
Punting to Islip
A narrative poem by Eddie Flintoff, with wood-engravings and linocut by Simon Brett
Three Pieces
Three hitherto unpublished essays by Harry Carter
another picture from The Phoenix The Phoenix
A translation by Eddie Flintoff, from the Latin of Lactantius, with pochoir by Peter Allen
view an image from 'Henry James Sat Here' Henry James Sat Here
Reflections on Siena with poems by Anne Coon and images by Kurt Feuerherm
Oxford's Ornaments
A survey and display of the typographical ornaments at Oxford University Press
read about 'Winter Light' Winter Light
Hugh Buchanan on the country house as we never see it
Fedor Tiutchev
Poems by a reticent Russian poet, with engravings by Kirill Sokolov
read about 'The Daniel Press in Frome' The Colours of Rome
An exploration of the colours that characterise the Eternal City
Venice Approached
Ruskin's fine description of the journey from Padua to Venice by gondola.
Read about 'Stanley Morison & "John Fell"' Stanley Morison & 'John Fell'
The story of the making of Morison's book on Bishop John Fell
Read about 'Harry Carter, Typographer' Harry Carter, Typographer
A biographical sketch and exhaustive bibliography
read about 'Antigone' Antigone
A poem by Desmond Post, wood-cuts by Inger Lawrance
read about 'Aubrey's Villa' Michael Burghers, Oxford engraver
A biographical note on Oxford University Press's finest copper engraver, who worked around the turn of the 18th century.
read about 'Aubrey's Villa' Aubrey's Villa
The poignant story of John Aubrey's beloved childhood home
Twelve poems from the Manyoshu
Woodcuts by Naoko Matsubara
'Read about 'The Fell Revival'

The Fell Revival
The story of the revival of Oxford University Press's Fell types

read about 'Printing at the Daniel Press' Printing at the Daniel Press
New light on Henry Daniel's printing practices
An alphabet book with tanka by James Kirkup
Only the printer knows
The story of a book that nearly never was

Venice Approached

An extract from John Ruskin's The Stones of Venice

View the de luxe edition of Venice Approached

A printing of an extract from chapter 30 of book one and chapter 1 of book two of John Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice. Hand-set in 24pt Bembo italic, printed on Zerkall in a large landscape format, the paper folded on the fore-edge and all copies bound in the Japanese style. One illustration: the Venice waterline from the Dogana, printed from a line-block of a digitally processed photograph. 31pp.

Fifty copies. Copies I to XII were bound by Rachel James, with a black card protective wallet bearing the title on one edge and inside the first flap. Copies I to VI each covered with a different hand-blocked paper from Legatoria Piazzesi, Venice; the binding tape was red. Copies VII to XII were covered with paper specially hand-marbled in the Spanish style by Ann Muir, with a slate blue rippled background on which black, gold, and terracotta ‘globules’ float; the binding tape was black. Copies 13 to 50 were bound with soft covers of hand-made Wookey Hole Royal carrying the title pasted on, printed from the same type as that used for the title page; they were presented in a simple wrapper of black card, the title on the spine and again on the front cover. Ordinaries £19 (ISBN 0 9522335 5 X). Specials £44 (ISBN 0 9522335 0 9).

The Fruits of Jane Austen

Ten extracts from Jane Austen's letters  and novels with eight wood-engravings by Simon Brett

View the binding of The Fruits of Jane Austen

Hand-set in 14pt Caslon Old Style, printed on 200gsm Fabriano Artistico. Quarter bound by Rachel James in sky blue cloth with Claire Maziarczyk’s Sun Shower paste paper on the boards. 135 copies.  Bound copies £39. Sheets £10. (ISBN 0 9522335 1 7)

Twelve Poems

Twelve poems by David Burnett with wood-engravings by Sister Margaret Tournour

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The poems are set in 12pt Cancelleresca Bastarda. Each opening shows one poem with its wood-engraving and is effectively a half sheet of Saunders Waterford paper, giving a page size of 380mm by 280mm. All but fifteen copies of the edition of 135 were bound by Rachel James in full dark green cloth with end-papers of Canson Mi Teintes, the front cover carrying a label illustrated with one of Sister Margaret’s engravings. All copies were signed by both poet and artist. Fifteen sets of sheets (numbers 40-54) were reserved for binders together with end papers and necessary labels. Bound copies £36. Sets of sheets £18. (ISBN 0 9522335 4 1)

Venice Visited

Extracts from Coryat's Crudities with pochoir illustrations by John Thornton

View the binding of Venice Visited

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'A child could tell you that this is a beautiful book.'


Venice Visited was published in 1999 in an edition of 80 copies. The text of the short extracts from Thomas Coryat's Coryat's Crudities was printed in Stephenson Blake 22pt Caslon Old Face on dampened hand-made paper from the Sheepstor mill. The papers used for the binding were hand-blocked by Alberto Valese in Venice for the edition. John Thornton designed and executed the illustrations in pochoir. Rachel James bound the edition. £75. 32pp. (ISBN 1 899933 04 2)

Writing in The Times in April 2000, Bibliomane said:
'Venice Visited' stands out, confident and jolly . . . A child could tell you that this is a beautiful book.

Venice Visited was one of the books shown in the exhibition of Modern Private Press Books, Unregulated Printing, held at Cambridge University Library in 2006.

Punting to Islip

A narrative poem by Eddie Flintoff, with wood-engravings and linocut by Simon Brett

View the binding of the standard edition of Punting to Islip

'An evocative narrative poem sympathetically brought to the page; the pictorial title-page is a triumph'

The one thing I remember doing a lot of when up at Cambridge in the late 1960s was punting on the Cam. So Eddie Flintoff's new narrative poem Punting to Islip rang many emotional bells when I first received it from him via Simon Brett, and its poignancy for idyllic days matched mine. Eddie's poem really deserves to be read out loud, having as many sonic qualities as typographic, though I have followed Eddie's proposed layout, adding only a gentle curve to the flow of the river of text. There are many moods and changes of mood that a better typographer than I could have exploited on the page, to echo the changes of pace and tone that would come through in speech. Nevertheless, I think it all still works.

The title page has a linocut and wood engraving pair by Simon Brett picturing the scene as it might have looked to Eddie's eyes in the 1950s; the linocut is printed in a paler colour 'under' the wood engraving. The title page also has a calligraphic title. Click on the thumbnail above to see more. A further wood-engraving makes a fine tail-piece.

The edition consists of 150 copies and is signed by Simon Brett. The text is hand-set in 10pt Monotype Gill Sans and printed on dampened hand-made Japanese kawanaka ivory paper. The 120 copies of the standard edition are bound in a Japanese style: double sheets are folded on the fore-edge and sewn with ribbon between covers of blue hand-made Richard de Bas paper in a landscape format (about 190mm by 230mm). Pages of the poem face each other, verso and recto. The poem is 14pp long. Ordinaries are £33 (Euro60, US$63), specials £64. (ISBN 0 9522335 3 3)

The Phoenix

A translation by Eddie Flintoff, from the Latin of Lactantius, with pochoir by Peter Allen

View two of Peter Allen's pochoir images from The Phoenix

a picture from The Phoenix

another picture from The Phoenix

View two designer bindings of The Phoenix by Lester Capon

designer binding of The Phoenix

view the book itself

'A very attractive book, printed with blocks made from Alun Briggs's original calligraphy and with vibrantly coloured hand-stencilled illustrations'

When he sent me the manuscript for Punting to Islip which I published in 1994, Eddie Flintoff enclosed his translation – the first for almost a century – of the poem De Ave Phoenice by Lactantius. The Phoenix is an early indicator of the kind of religious revolution that was going on in the time of Constantine, the very era that saw Christianity's ascent as a major world religion. Roman religious feeling was searching its way towards a philosophical reinterpretation of the old myths and legends, hoping to stabilise ancestral ways of thought that were looking increasingly threadbare, by reinterpreting them as moral allegories.

Lactantius was an early Christian theologian and professional rhetor, who attempted to align Christian symbolic teaching with aspects of the old culture, claiming that the church would be the inheritor of the best of classical culture. His claim that Christianity was the true heir of Roman civilised ideals must have seemed no more than bare-faced cheek in the fourth century when he was writing. He offers the symbol of the Phoenix and its mythical rebirth from the ashes of its own death as a symbol of Christ – and thereby as a symbol of the soul's rebirth into immortality.


The poem is vivid and colourful and provides a splendid opportunity to bring together a number of media – and contributors – in presenting Eddie's translation. Calligrapher Alun Briggs has written the text in a hand based on a mid fifth-century Italian manuscript, and it is from blocks made from his writing that the text has been printed. The poem demands coloured illustrations and Peter Allen has designed and pochoired five very striking three-colour full-page illustrations to accompany the text. Finally, to provide context to the poem, its subject matter, and its author, Dr John McGuckin, Reader in Patristic and Byzantine Theology at the University of Leeds, has provided a new introductory essay. The Press is following a long tradition: Aldus's heirs published a Lactantius edition including De Ave Phoenice in 1535, as did Claude Garamont in 1545.

The edition consists of 150 copies. 135 copies have been bound in full black cloth by The Fine Bindery, and a further fifteen sets of sheets were reserved for binders. The standard edition of the book is 213mm by 240mm on Zerkall mould-made paper. The introductory essay is printed in 12pt Monotype Perpetua italic, and supporting material in foundry Perpetua italic. 37pp. Ordinaries (ISBN 978 0 9522335 6 5) £63 (€110, US$110).

The twenty-five de luxe copies had a gilt top edge and end-papers of the beautiful Vega Blanc hand-made paper from the Larroque mill, a white paper with gold flecks; each de luxe copy also contained a portfolio of the pochoir illustrations signed by Peter Allen held in a folder of Vega Blanc, all contained in a slipcase. £96.

The Bricks of Venice


An important new text written and illustrated with watercolours by Peter Harris

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View two of the watercolours from the book

View a designer binding of the book

read a chapter from the book (32K PDF file)
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WINNER of a Judges' Choice Award at the 2005 Oxford Fine Press Book Fair

'a beautiful production' . . . 'spectacular'
'a truly fabulous production'  . . . 'splendid'

Our first book, Venice Approached, was an excerpt from John Ruskin's The Stones of Venice, in particular the passage where he describes arriving in Venice from Padua, taking a gondola from the Brenta. This new title is, in its author's words, 'no parody of Ruskin's masterpiece, but offered in homage.'

Peter Harris lived and worked in Venice for seven years, with enough leisure to study in depth the architecture of Venice and to read extensively about the city. The Bricks of Venice was years in writing and in research, and is a memorial to his great love of the city.

You can read a chapter from the book, pretty much in the format that it appears in the book, by clicking on the 'excerpt' button to the left.

The 96pp of text were printed in 14/16pt Bembo on a large page of Magnani mould-made paper. These pages were then bound into a volume with a hand-blocked paper on the boards - the paper was prepared especially for the edition by Alberto Valese in Venice, using a pattern taken from the facade of Ca' d'Oro, one of the finest Gothic palaces on the Grand Canal, and just along from the building in which Peter Harris and his wife lived. Each illustration was printed on a separate sheet of 225gsm Somerset paper made of 100% cotton , making it easier to follow the illustrations when they are called for in the text and also to frame and display them individually. To print the images I used an Epson 2100 printer using pigment-based inks thereby assuring good longevity of the images. The seventy-two sheets of images are separated by chapter with sheets of brown Fabriano Ingres on which captions are printed to accompany the images. These sheets are collected in a solander box which is covered in another paper from Alberto Valese - a repeated tile pattern in grey. The solander box and bound volume are presented in a slip case in a pale yellow cloth with a spine label. Click on the button above to see a number of views of the book and its parts. (33cm high, 23.5cm wide, 8.5cm deep - 13in high, 9.25in wide, 3.25in deep.)

Harris achieves a pleasing balance between contemporary observation and historical context, and sixty-six delightful watercolours and six other images fill out the story perfectly - you can view two of the watercolours by clicking on the thumbnail above (but please note that faithful colour reproduction on displays depends on too many factors outside my control!). He wrote the following about his book:

Scattered among the hidden corners of Venice, in private houses, on bell towers and under the eaves of churches, is a group of brick and tile designs dating back to the eleventh to fifteenth centuries. It needs the single-mindedness of a ferret to find many of them, hidden in the gloom of a narrow calle or secret courtyard. Ruskin knew and admired them; but even that indefatigable researcher did not find them all, and the breathtaking vision of The Stones of Venice is, naturally for the most part focused on Gothic stonework. It is surprising that here, in the most researched city in the world, such a treasury of medieval architecture could have been so ignored. The present book is the first to draw attention to the diversity and charm of this neglected side of Venice.

I have tried to keep my writing hand free from the cobwebs and dry brick dust that the title might lead one to expect, enlivening the text with many vignettes of personalities and life in medieval Venice. In addition, these little brick relics are part of the changing face of a living city that expresses its underlying economic and religious forces. To this end, many chapters are centred around mini-essays: brick making, the bricklayers, pavements, bell towers; but also the social hierarchy, a fashion in women's footwear, the mendicant friars, defence architecture, air pollution.

Publication may be timely. Apart from their intrinsic artistic and architectural interest, these unconsidered fragments are at danger from neglect, insensitive repair, even vandalism. Windows in the Campiello S Rocco that Ruskin described as 'amongst the most ancient efforts of Gothic art in Venice' have completely disappeared. Awareness of their value may help draw the attention of the charitable organisations such as Venice in Peril to the possibility of preserving a unique heritage at a relatively low cost.

Illustrations and text bear equal responsibilities, the two having been conceived together and fused from the beginning, text drawing the eye to relevant details and providing a background. The illustrations are designed both for accuracy and for aesthetic presentation. I have used a limited palette of earth colours to give cohesion and reinforce the sense of a work designed as a whole. Those water colours also bring out the character of brick better than photos can.

An exhibition of Harris's original watercolours was held at The Arts Club, London, and the book was published at the opening reception on 16 February 2005. There was another exhibition of the watercolours at the Palazzo delle Prigione in Venice, adjacent to the Bridge of Sighs, 10-28 January 2007. In January 2008 the book was centre stage at the Library of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, where Francesca Harris, Peter Harris's widow, gave a reading from the book, and a display case had some of the watercolours on show.

 (ISBN 978 1 899933 18 1)

The price of the book was £220 (E300, US$390).

Three Pieces

Three hitherto unpublished essays by Harry Carter

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a segment from one of Harry Carter's designs for a type border

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During their researches on Harry Carter's life and work, the authors of Harry Carter, Typographer came across about 150pp of typescript material that he had drafted towards a second volume of his history of Oxford University Press. Unfortunately, that volume was never to see the light of day, but we have taken the opportunity to publish two of the essays in that typescript. The first, Bradley’s Observations, describes what was (in Carter’s words) ‘the worst dereliction of duty in the history of the Press’ and is fascinatingly tied up with the £20,000 prize offered under the Longitude Act of 1714 for an accurate way of determining longitude. The second, Thomas Bensley as a Partner, is a tale of fraud and deception at the Press.

In August 1932, Carter sent an essay on the influence of John Baskerville on type design to Jan van Krimpen for inclusion in the first issue of a proposed successor to The Fleuron, but that also never came to fruition. Carter's essay on this most influential of English type designers - whose tercentenary is in 2006 - makes the third item in this volume of his work.

We originally published these three essays as an extra volume in the de luxe copies of Harry Carter, Typographer, but it was evident from the speed with which those sold out that there would be a demand for the essays on their own so we have run on a small edition.

The text is printed in 12D/15 Romulus on a hand-made Van Gelder paper. (I rescued this paper from the defunct print-shop of the Carthusian monastery at Parkminster in Sussex. The ream had a single worm-hole running through it and some copies have this hole as a feature on one or more pages, though mostly in the margin or gutter. I think it adds a touch of romance to the book.) Case-bound in green cloth with a label on the front-board. The title page carries a photograph of Carter. 28pp. There were eighty copies of which about fifty were for sale at £35 (E65, US$70). (ISBN 978 1 899933 20 4)

Henry James Sat Here

Reflections on Siena with poems by Anne Coon and images by Kurt Feuerherm

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'... extremely attractive'
'what a beautiful book!'

In April 2002, over a lunch of panini and Sienese ribollita soup, two long-time friends, Kurt Feuerherm and Anne Coon, were enjoying a chilly spring day in Siena, Italy. Siena’s Campo was filled with children, their parents, and the gathering tourists, when the conversation turned to the past and to the painters and writers who had once sat where Kurt and Anne were sitting. That conversation marked the beginning of a collaboration that led to Henry James Sat Here, a volume of poetry and mixed media artwork (watercolour, collage, and ink) blending Anne’s words and Kurt’s images. Some pairings evoke the moods and colours of the Tuscan landscape; others capture the faces and figures seen in the streets of Siena; still others suggest the abstractions of dream and memory, the troubled sleep of a person far from home.

As a Professor of Language and Literature in the College of Liberal Arts at Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, New York), Anne teaches Creative Writing, Italian Poetry, Modern Poetry, and Patterns in Poetry and Mathematics. The poems in Henry James Sat Here have been selected from a longer poem cycle, Via del Paradiso, in which Anne created an intimate record of the months she lived in Siena. Living alone and learning the language, she comes to know the city, its people, and its cultural past; at the same time, she begins to understand herself in a new way, as outsider, observer, and then participant in a world where she is 'always among others'.

During the 1990s, Kurt lived and taught in Florence, Italy, and travelled extensively throughout Tuscany, and his art focuses on the abstraction of nature-related subjects. Kurt’s artwork for this book – some pieces taken from sketchbooks he kept while living in Florence and others done while sitting at a cafe table or later in his studio – complements and illustrates the poems while also comprising a powerful, independent body of work.

I have printed nine poem-image pairs and I wanted to do something manageable in a small edition and in an interesting way. I have always been looking for ways of allowing a book to act as a display of its contents as well as a straightforward codex, with pages that you turn. tokonoma was one such attempt. Henry James Sat Here (the title of one of Anne's poems) is in a format that allows it to stand open on its own for display, sit on the knees for reading, and fold into a container for storage on the shelf - click on the button above to see how it works. Basically the nine poem-image pairs are joined together to form a zig-zag of openings, the ends of which can then be turned to face each other to form a circle for display. When folded up, the zig-zag can be dropped into a Japanese-style portfolio, strictly a shallow box with four drop-over flaps. One half-height flap come down from the top, and a second up from the bottom. Two further flaps fold over from right and left, and on the inside of each are the title page and the colophon page respectively which, in this way, become part of the container rather than of the book itself.

This has been a good opportunity to use our 14pt Octavian again - it stands up so well in poetry, especially with strong images - and I have used the same inkjet technology for Kurt's images as I used for Peter Harris's watercolours in The Bricks of Venice. It is capable of rendering both subtlety and intensity on 100% cotton papers and with archival quality. The entire book is printed on 225gsm Somerset watercolour paper.

There are ninety-five copies of which only sixty are for sale. £150 (€240, US$300). (ISBN 978 1 899933 22 8)

On 26 October 2006, in Rochester Public Library, Kurt and Anne had a reception, a brief reading, and exhibit of the book and Kurt's Italian paintings. Kurt's work and Henry James Sat Here were then on display for a month in a gallery at the library.

Oxford's Ornaments

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

View the binding of the de luxe edition of Oxford's Ornaments

View the binding of the standard edition of Oxford's Ornaments

working with the ornaments in pictures
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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 'progress' 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 the 'the story' button above.

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, €225, US$300). Sets of sheets were also available (£60, €90, US$120).

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. 

Fedor Tiutchev

A Russian poet and a Russian illustrator

Read about the poet, wood-engraver, and translator

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Poetry has a natural attraction for the private press. There is the opportunity for special treatment of the text, without the sheer quantity of printing necessary to put, say, a 150pp book through the press. After we acquired our Western proof press, longer texts became more practical propositions, but it is pleasing to drop a 'slim volume' into our production schedule to leaven the fare, especially when it comes with some strong engravings.

Fedor Tiutchev (1803-1873) published poems off and on from 1829, notably between 1836 and 1840 in Pushkin's journal The Contemporary, but he belonged to no poetic group and attached little value to his own verses and none to their publication. Only two books of lyric poetry appeared during his lifetime. apparently thanks entirely to the good offices of his friends including Turgenev. Avril Pyman has prepared translations for fourteen of Tiutchev's poems. Of Tiutchev and his work, she writes 'He was influenced in youth by the Latin poets, and by Pascal and Lamartine, but later by Goethe, Schiller, and Heine. Yet it is perhaps to Tiutchev's years of semi-retirement on his estate near Moscow and to his love for Elena Deniseva who bore him three children, that we owe many of the most inspired poems. In his work, religious impulse alternates with nihilism, veneration for ensouled nature with awful glimpses of the void, and a sensual love of cosmic order with intense, self-destructive attunement to the fascination of 'ancient chaos'. Always sonorous, his language is never artificial or pompous, his poetry conveying fleeting but profound existential insights.'

Tiutchev's poems are accompanied by strikingly cut engravings on perspex by Kirill Sokolov. He was born in Moscow in 1930 and became one of the former Soviet Union’s most dedicated professional artists, studying at the prestigious Surikov Institute in Moscow between 1950 and 1957. He worked and exhibited primarily as an illustrator, engraver and lithographer until he and Avril left Russia. In England, he illustrated two Russian classics for Oxford University Press and several books of poetry, made a series of cover designs for the poetry magazine Stand, and exhibited with the Society of Graphic Artists and Society of Miniaturists. He worked in a wide range of materials and in the 1980s experimented with various techniques: silk-screen, sugar aquatint, dry point, various forms of flat-bed printing, and engraving on plastic blocks, the last of these for a series of engravings for Akhmatova's Requiem (Black Cygnet Press). Kirill died in May 2004.

For this rare presentation of Tiutchev in English, the poems were printed in hand-set 14pt Monotype Octavian on a large page of heavy Somerset mould-made paper, folded on the fore-edge, wrapped in covers of green Fabriano Tiziano, and sewn with tape. There were 100 copies of which sixty were for sale. The price was £20 (€40, US$40). (ISBN 978 1 899933 16 7)

Winter Light

Atmospheric watercolours by Hugh Buchanan with texts by Peter Davidson

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'A beautiful and moving production'
'A stunning production' 'An extraordinary title ... [offering] beautiful prints of watercolors depicting still life interiors from home that feature rich colors and the soft light of winter.'


Winter Light brings together a group of Hugh Buchanan’s haunting watercolours of great rooms seen by the low light of winter, with texts by Peter Davidson about the artist's travels through remote places and cold landscapes. The rooms in the pictures are shown as if opened up for a solitary off-season visit, a locked and frozen house as it might be seen by a tradesman making a repair, or a visiting antiquary, shutters opened for one day to let in the brief light.

The text and images evoke a timeless season: rooms never meant to be heated, chambers of stillness and frost, light which hardly rides clear of the horizon. Light striking upwards, snow light, refraction. Shadows of glazing-bars, ladders of winter light across panelling and floors. Silence and the frosty sun moving about the rooms. The book also evokes the poetry of the provinces after the hour has gone back, the melancholy of off-season, almost-empty hotels. Days below zero, when the winter country has sunk into itself and its past. Holly bush and yew tree. Silvered grassland. Mist stirring in the spinney. Antiquity remembered. Worn stone in a net of hoar-frost.

Peter has written two complementary narratives for the book: one follows the sequence of Hugh’s fourteen images as the light and colours change with the moving season, while another takes us on a visitor’s winter journey, moving now through space as well as time. The structure of the book – allowing shutters to be opened to reveal the images – also separates the two texts, whilst letting them run together in parallel.

Hugh Buchanan has developed a major reputation as a watercolourist with a special interest in interiors, his most recent exhibition at the Francis Kyle Gallery focussing on libraries. In this new title we reproduce fourteen of his watercolours of interiors, ranging in temperature from the autumnal glow of a silent room to a chill and airless corridor in winter. 

Peter Davidson’s texts have been printed - letterpress of course - in 14pt and 18pt Caslon Old Face from the Stephenson Blake foundry. Hugh Buchanan’s images have been reproduced digitally using archival quality inks, and 330gsm 100% cotton Somerset papers have been used throughout. The book is cased in heavy boards bound in full calf-skin in a chilly aqua colour and with a crushed effect. Two ribbons bring the boards together at the fore-edge. The book is approximately 420mm tall by 300mm wide (16 ½ in. by 11 ½ in.).

The edition was of 100 copies at £280 after publication with a further 25 not for sale.

You can find out more about Hugh Buchanan's work at his website.

The Colours of Rome

Decorative painter John Sutcliffe on the pigments that give Rome its characteristic visual flavour

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'highly unusual and beautifully produced book' ... 'magnificent' ... 'I fell for it as soon as I saw it' ... 'a magnificent production' ... 'a work of art' ... 'outstanding' ... 'a beautiful unique book' ... 'it's lovely' ... 'incredibly beautiful' ... 'utterly marvelous' ... 'a beautifully produced object, a pleasure to hold'

 WINNER of a 'Judges' Choice Award'
at the 2013 Oxford Fine Press Book Fair

John Sutcliffe knows about colour. A former regional curator at the National Trust and now active as a decorative painter, his expertise in the topic, in particular in an architectural setting, was extensively used by Farrow & Ball, a company that will surely be known to many, at the time when they were first building up their reputation for traditional paints and hand-produced wallpapers. For many years John’s interest in colour has taken him to the Mediterranean, to Italy, and in particular to Rome. The buildings of Rome’s centro storico carry on their walls many layers of coloured limewash and distemper, layers that have both accumulated and decayed over time, thereby capturing the changing fashions in colour.

John’s vision for this book was a survey of the city’s colourscape, a palette of colours so different from that of, say, Venice, Tuscany, or Palermo, and a palette that is today in a period of great change. His new essay traces the history of that palette and the influences that have led it to its state today.

To illustrate the essay John made several trips to Rome, returning finally with twenty sheets of colours copied directly from the buildings themselves. His carefully chosen selection is designed to demonstrate the diversity of the palette and also to draw together two very different strands of tradition that have created the appearance of the streets of Rome today. Each of the twenty colours is illustrated with a large painted patch applied directly onto its own sheet of Magnani wove using water-based paints. These sheets are loose in a wallet within the cased sleeve that holds the book, thus making it possible for the reader to explore the colours in different combinations just as they appear in Rome. A swatch card of chips of the twenty colours is also included in the wallet.

The text is printed in 14pt Dante on a large page of Magnani hand-made laid paper, with headings printed from wood-letter. The book is bound in full cloth and is protected by the sleeve inside which the wallet of paint patches is attached. In addition to the standard edition of ninety-nine copies there were twenty-five de luxe copies that take the form of a solander box containing, as well as the standard edition book, bottled samples of nine of the most important pigments, mostly earths, in powdered form.

The book is 323mm by 235mm (about 12.75 inches by 9.25 inches); the solander box is slightly larger and 92mm deep (3.75 inches)

The price was £185 (euro235, US$350) for a standard copy and £350 (euro435, US$580) for a de luxe copy.

If you know our books you will know we love colour, so this was a project that appealed from the outset. If Rome, architecture, and the way our cities change interest you, this book will appeal, and we hope that the production qualities will enhance your enjoyment. Uniquely, it is the only record of the most characteristic colours to be seen in Rome today, perhaps the only such survey of any city. The book received full-page reviews in the Times Literary Supplement (7 April 2014) and World of Interiors (May 2014).

Venice Approached

A reprint of the text of our first publication

View the book from several aspects

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'great book' ... 'beautifully printed' ... 'very beautiful'

Our very first book, published in 1992 (though the title page says 1991!), was a text taken from John Ruskin's The Stones of Venice. Amongst about 120 cases of type that I bought early on from a letterpress shop that was closing down was a full case of 24pt Bembo italic - fresh, unused - and I used that for a large landscape book in a small edition. The sheets were folded on the fore-edge meaning that I had to print very long pieces of paper on a 10x15 platen press - a daft thing for a beginner to do. I've always wanted to reprint it, hoping to make a better job of it, and this is the reprint, slightly extended, this time printed on our Western proof press.

Ruskin had a wonderful Victorian style: long, complex sentences, weaving in and out of subordinate clauses. For the compositor the result has its upside and its downside. Unusually, the first thing I would run out of was commas! On the upside his enormously long paragraphs meant solid blocks of text on the page, something I find rather attractive: none of those irritating indentations at the start of new paragraphs (I find unindented paragraphs equally annoying as the last sentence of the preceding paragraph simply finishes in mid-air - an annoying feature of many Golden Cockerell books.) On the other hand, that meant even greater care when hand-setting as correcting an error early in such a paragraph could mean having to rejustify the entire paragraph.

I hand-set the text in 14pt Hunt Roman and printed it on a pale blue Hodgkinson hand-made paper, making a single section of 16 pages sewn into a simple case. To cover the boards I decided to use up a number of oddments from my plan chest: four patterned sheets hand-blocked by Alberto Valese in Venice cover eight cases (they were left over from the original 1992 edition), and twenty-five overs of marbled papers that Ann Muir made for me over the years for various projects make another fifty. So, just fifty-eight copies. The eight copies in Valese papers were not for sale, but the others were £60 (euro90, US$120) each.

Stanley Morison & 'John Fell'

The writing and printing of Stanley Morison's book John Fell, the University Press and the 'Fell' types

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'A wonderful production.' 'Delightful - beautifully produced and very interesting and informative too.' 'Handsome and well done.' 'Splendid!'

WINNER of a 'Judges Choice Award' at the 2003 Oxford Fine Press Book Fair

While researching The Fell Revival, Martyn Thomas and I found ourselves following threads just off the main theme but equally interesting. One of them related to the writing and printing of Stanley Morison's great work John Fell, the University Press and the 'Fell' types, a book which was first suggested to Morison in 1925 but which was not published until 1967, on the very day after his death.

In the words of Vivian Ridler, who was Printer to the University when the book was finally printed, 'Morison had a very strong journalistic streak in him, he wasn't an innate scholar, he was rather of the "publish and be damned" school. He reckoned his job was to do some pioneering work. He used to say "get it all down and published and let other people come along and go over it." The scholarship was Morison's but Harry Carter did a lot of quiet putting right.' The topic was vast, and others were enlisted to assist in various aspects: John Simmons as Printer's Librarian, Mr. Bill from the Bodleian Library, Dr. Voet at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, and Miss Margaret Crum, also from the Bodleian.

Work on John Fell had to fit in with all of Morison's other activities and was interrupted by his bouts of illness, so the work proceeded with agonising slowness. At one point Ridler was prompted to write to Morison 'Do you think that . . . some way might be found of moving the Fell opus again? . . . even if I am spared, I have only another nineteen years to go.' Printing this vast work - itself all hand-set in the Fell types - became a major project for the Printing House, requiring sets of pages to be type-set, proofed, corrected, and printed, before the type could be dissed ready for the next set.

This new monograph tells the story principally through the archives at Oxford University Press, and the Stanley Morison Room papers in Cambridge University Library, but also through interviews with some of those directly involved: John Simmons, Vivian Ridler, Richard Russell, and John Bowley. (If you would like to listen to recordings of our interviews with Vivian Ridler, please click here.) It gives a fascinating insight into Morison and his dealings with colleagues, and of the workings of OUP over the period.

Click the 'excerpt' button above for a 12pp extract from the book. There are four tipped-in leaves of books set in the Fell types, plus a dozen splendid photographs of those involved over the four decades. A two-page announcement was available on request. This is the contents list:

List of photographs and tip-ins
The book described
The 1900 Hart catalogue
The 1925 Chapman folio
The 1930s Johnson specimens
The 1950 Batey keepsake
The 1953 Morison fascicules
The 1967 Morison book
The type-faces in ‘John Fell’

In January 2004 I presented a paper to the Printing Historical Society conference Printing and the World of Learning in Cambridge. Why not read a transcript of my paper (157K PDF) - it will give you a feeling for the scope of the book itself.

240 copies have been printed letterpress in 12/14pt Monotype Van Dijck on a demy quarto page of Mohawk Superfine, to match The Fell Revival in size. 144pp.

BINDING A.  Fifty de luxe copies are bound in quarter burgundy leather, with a marbled paper by Ann Muir on the boards. They are signed by Vivian Ridler, and Morison's collaborator John Simmons. Like the de luxe of The Fell Revival, these copies come with an additional portfolio of material, some printed in Fell; you can click here to download a PDF of the portfolio's contents. The book and portfolio are presented in a slipcase. The price was £160 (€270, US$270). (Trade terms on de luxe copies are one quarter.) (ISBN 978 1 899933 17 4)

BINDING B. There were 170 copies case-bound in burgundy cloth with a dust-jacket carrying a drawing of Morison, but these have all been sold. Twenty copies were reserved in sheets for binders and a few sets are still available. Bound copies were £80 (€135, US$135), sheets were £50 per set. (ISBN 978 1 899933 10 5)

If you are interested generally in the recent history of Oxford University Press, I recommend On the Press, an excellent book about the people on the shop floor at OUP, written by one of its former employees, Mick Belson. (Mick had been Head Reader. He died in 2008.)

Harry Carter, Typographer

A tribute to an unsung English typographer, by Martyn Thomas, John A Lane, and Anne Rogers

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sheets are available in nine sections plus end-papers and spine label and all necessary tip-ins

'a lovely piece of design' 'a properly and thoughtfully designed and fascinating history of a time of values which, sadly, have almost totally disappeared'

Harry Carter was one of the foremost typographers of the twentieth century, and one of the least celebrated. Sir Francis Meynell described him as 'one of the least-known best-known men in the world of books. He has chosen nearly always to be an accompanist, rather than the soloist he could be.'

Carter was a meticulous scholar. Stanley Morison famously said of him 'The man's a pedant! The man's a pedant!', but Morison's great book John Fell carries the acknowledgement 'with the assistance of Harry Carter' on the title page, and in his preface Morison says that Carter 'carried unflinchingly the massive burden of editorial drudgery'. In reality, Morison would never have completed John Fell without Carter's deep knowledge of ancient types, his unerring eye for detail, and his passion for accuracy.

 Carter's Emerald (6pt) Bible type designed for OUP.

Carter's career spanned the Monotype Works, the Kynoch and Nonesuch Presses, H.M.S.O, and the University Press, Oxford. His designs ranged from a Curwen pattern paper, to the lettering for the route blinds on London buses, Monotype Russian Baskerville, a Hebrew type, and a new Bible face for O.U.P. His main legacy, however, lies in his many publications. Carter's breadth of work was remarkable. His translation of Fournier on Typefounding is the standard work, as is his translation of Herodotus for the Limited Editions Club. But it is his many books and articles on type design and type history that are especially valuable to typographers and lovers of fine printing today.

The book combines a 50pp biographical sketch by Martyn Thomas and Anne Rogers with a comprehensive bibliography of Carter's published work originally compiled by John Lane, including books, articles, reviews, and lectures, as well as reviews of his work by others. 240 copies have been printed letterpress, and bound uniformly with Stanley Morison & 'John Fell' and The Fell Revival. Each copy of the book contains a printed sample of his 'Emerald' Bible type, a sample of the pattern paper he designed for Curwen, and reproductions of eleven photographs of Carter through his lifetime, a self-portrait when aged 13, and a triple wood-engraving portrait of him by George Buday. 128pp. Here is the contents list:

List of illustrations and tip-ins
The early years
Book design and production
Wartime excursions
Further work for His Majesty: HMSO
The Oxford years: archives and typefounding

There are two bindings:
BINDING A.  Fifty de luxe copies are quarter-bound in green goatskin with a Cockerell-style marbled paper by Ann Muir on the boards. Each copy also contains an additional volume of three hitherto unpublished essays by Carter: two sections he drafted for the putative second volume of his history of Oxford University Press, and an essay he wrote on Baskerville as a typeface. The additional volume is printed in Romulus, as the main volume, but here on a Van Gelder hand-made paper. The two volumes are presented in a slipcase. The price was £160 (€270, US$300). (ISBN 978 1 899933 19 8)
BINDING B. 170 standard copies are case-bound in green cloth, with a dust-jacket of green Hahnemühle Bugra Bütten carrying a line-drawing portrait of Carter by John Watts; the price was £80 (€135, US$160). Twenty copies have been reserved in sheets for binders ; £40 per set. (ISBN 978 1 899933 11 2)

The book was published on 26 April 2005 at a talk entitled 'Harry Carter - Man of Type' given to the Friends of St Bride by co-author Martyn Thomas, at St Bride Library, London.


A narrative poem by Desmond Post, with wood cuts by Inger Lawrance


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The daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta, Antigone was sealed in a cave by her uncle Creon after she had, against his command, tended the body of her brother who had died fighting to succeed Oedipus. Desmond Post's poem is an imagined soliloquy as she awaits death in her tomb. Writing of his work, Desmond Post says 'Antigone, of all the royal house of Thebes, is the most deserving of recall. There was a need that I should cast her within the character that Sophocles made noble, so her words are spare and acute, and her spirit, questioning and defiant, does not succumb to the creeping despair. Her death is an affirmation of her self against the pitiless Fates.'

In asking Inger Lawrance to provide five of her striking wood cuts (cut on cherry wood), I think I found a complementary visual voice about which the words 'spare' and 'acute' can also be used. I first came across her work in illustrations for The Old Stile Press and she published in her own right at The Windmill Hole Studio. The text is hand-set in the 14pt version of Stephenson Blake's casting of Eric Gill's Perpetua. The edition consists of 112 copies, signed by poet and artist, of which twelve sets of sheets were reserved for binders. £42. 30pp.(ISBN 978 0 9522335 8 9)

Michael Burghers, Oxford engraver

A biographical monograph about OUP's finest engraver, working at the turn of the 18th century, by Jim Nottingham and Martyn Ould

In print

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View one of Burghers's original copper plates

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'a beautiful book', 'handsome', 'splendid', 'fantastic', 'both beautiful and informative', 'quite lovely', 'beautiful'

In my work on Oxford University Press during the period 1660-1780, I found that a name that was associated with many books was that of Michael Burghers.

Burghers was perhaps the most accomplished engraver on copper of his time. He worked for the Press as well as editors and publishers in Oxford between around 1674 and 1726. Until now, little has been written of him and his life and work. Michael Burghers, Oxford engraver aims to fill the gap.

A book about Burghers would be severely lacking if it did not contain his engravings. We are fortunate that in the archives of Oxford University Press there are still some of his original plates and we are delighted to have been given permission by the Press to print from eight of them and to be collaborating with master intaglio printer Jim Nottingham who has been entrusted with printing from Burghers's plates in the past.

The text has the following sections:

Life and character
The Almanacks
Engravings for Delegates’ books from the University Press
Engravings for Authors’ books from other Oxford editors and booksellers
Burghers and Hearne
The plates

The edition was of just forty-eight copies of which forty-two were for sale. Following the format of all our books on the history of Oxford University Press, the text is set in Monotype Van Dijck and the book is a demy quarto, case bound in full cloth with a spine label. The text runs to 29pp in 32pp section and is printed on a slate-grey Abbey Mills laid paper. The eight engravings are printed on 250gsm Rives BFK. £125.


Aubrey's Villa

The poignant story of John Aubrey's beloved childhood home, his hopes for it, and its loss, told through his own drawings and watercolours

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'very impressive', 'absolutely wonderful', 'a most handsome book', 'amazing', 'beautifully produced'

John Aubrey (1626–1697) was born in a house built by his grandfather, Isaac Lyte, at Lower Easton Piercy in Wiltshire, a house he always knew he would inherit. When it came to him after his father’s death, while he was still in his twenties, he began signing himself ‘John Aubrey of Easton Pierse, Esq.’, a connection with his land in Wiltshire that became essential to his identity. But inherited debts and bad luck eventually caught up with him in his forties, and he found himself having to sell not just the lands and house but nearly everything he owned including some of his books. It was at this time that he prepared a collection of drawings, half of them a record of what he was leaving behind at Easton Piercy, but the other half, more spectacular, drawings of an Easton Piercy that had never existed. As he completed the final drawings in 1669–70, he went into hiding from the bailiffs, concealed his identity, and gave out rumours that he had gone abroad. His drawings now form a manuscript in the Bodleian Library: Aubrey 17.

From being a country gentleman with a very public sense of place he became a completely displaced figure taking his identity from the newly-founded Royal Society. His drawings are a record of the emotional cost of that shift, a farewell in pencil, ink, and watercolour to a place and a way of life that had defined him until that point. Yet the drawings are more than a simple record. For whatever reason, at the moment of losing it entirely Aubrey decided to show what he had wanted his estate to become: a neo-classical villa set amongst Italianate gardens and terraces. He was in the first generation of theorists and architects who developed the concept of a neo-classical country house, and his plans record debts to and conversations with John Evelyn, Roger Pratt, and Christopher Wren.

Aubrey’s drawings of Easton Piercy—as it was and as it might have been—now rest in that bound volume in the Bodleian, and we have been given permission to reproduce it in its entirety for the first time. To bring alive both the personal and the architectural story behind it, Dr Kelsey Jackson Williams has written an extended essay to accompany the reproductions of Aubrey’s drawings, and Professor Peter Davidson and Dr Kate Bennett have contributed introductory essays and commentary on the drawings. Oxford Fellow Dr Bennett is the leading authority on Aubrey and in 2015 published the first annotated critical edition of his best-known work, Brief Lives, and in 2017 was awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay prize by the British Academy; Dr Williams is the author of The Antiquary: John Aubrey’s Historical Scholarship. It is hard to imagine a more knowledgeable team of experts for this book.

This new title continues The Old School Press’s interest in matters architectural and our aim to publish new and authoritative texts. Interest in Aubrey has been much revived in both academic and general readership circles following two major publications in the last few years: Dr Bennett’s own edition of Aubrey’s Brief Lives, and a fictional autobiography of Aubrey, John Aubrey: My Own Life by Cambridge Fellow Dr Ruth Scurr.

Aubrey’s manuscript is landscape in format and we have retained that. Our book is bound between boards covered with a paper specially hand-marbled by English paper marbler Jemma Lewis in the style of that chosen by Aubrey for his own binding of his manuscript. The leaves are sewn Japanese style though a faux vellum spine. The book is slightly larger than A3 (about 17in wide and 12in deep) and runs to 68pp, so it makes a handsome volume. The final edition size was 60 copies. Each copy is signed by the three authors. Copies were £135 each.

There is one important difference with this title: it is printed entirely digitally, rather than letterpress. Much as we would have loved to do it letterpress our calculations suggested it would not work financially. However, our customers need have no fear that this is the thin end of a wedge between us and letterpress!

A book that never happened:
Twelve poems from the Manyoshu

Twelve woodcuts by Naoko Matsubara inspired by poems of love translated from the Japanese

Planned for late 2021

See the master proofs of all twelve images

See a mock-up of the box

See a photo diary of work on the book

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This was to be our second collaboration with Japanese woodcut artist Naoko Matsubara. Our first was tokonoma, work on which proceeded without our ever meeting, as we live 3,500 miles apart. Everything happened by letter and email.

However, in 2019 she had a one-woman exhibition of her work at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and we went along to the opening event and met for the first time. That meeting prompted the possibility of making another book together and this new title emerged from Naoko's long-standing desire to take inspiration from the Manyoshu.

The Manyoshu is an important part of Japanese poetic heritage, a collection of some thousands of poems dating from the Nara period. Naoko made a small selection - initially fifteen - that 'sing aloud about love' and for which she felt inspired to make an engraving. Those fifteen were whittled down to a dozen and for each she prepared a large image in her inimitable style. All but three are printed from more than one block in vibrant colours.

Naoko turned again to fine art printer Alan Flint near her in Toronto to edition the images (Alan printed her blocks for tokonoma). Samples of a number of papers were tried out and finally a Seichosen kozo paper was selected for the images and an order paced with the Japanese Paper Place in Toronto. Naoko also prepared a large image to entirely cover the box that the individual sheets was to be presented in. This required a different paper that would be suitable for binding and also strong enough to survive handling. And a third paper was chosen for a title sheet - a delicious torinoko kozo. We planned to print translations of the poems from various sources beneath the images here at The Old School Press, and we chose Optima as the typeface throughout. Clare Pollard and Penny Boxall prepared new translations from the Japanese.

The sheets bearing the images and texts are 343mm by 254mm (13.5in. by 10in.). A colophon sheet, signed by all three collaborators was to be pasted into the bottom of the box and the title sheet was to rest on top of the set of image sheets.

There were to be seventy-five copies printed and bound, sixty of which for sale.

However, a trunk containing the many hundreds of sheets of Japanese hand-made paper, printed with Naoko's images by Alan Flint, was 'lost' in transit from Canada by FedEx. The story, such as it is, can be read in the newsletters via the 'progress' link above.

Printing at the Daniel Press

An analysis of some rare proof sheets from the Daniel Press

View our two books on the Daniel Press

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'Absolutely fascinating!', 'An important catalog and analysis of this group of proof sheets, that has scholarly merit and is beautifully printed'

Authors' drafts are prized for the insights they offer scholars into the workings of the writer: the development and refinement of a text, the way that corrections and changes were made, and the degree of change made before the final version was reached. But we rarely have a chance to see that process in operation in the work of printers of the past. So it was with some excitement that in 2008, during our researches for The Daniel Press in Frome, David Chambers and I were presented with a paper bag full of pieces of mostly aged newsprint that turned out to be fifty-two proofs and rejected sheets from the Daniel Press that had come down through the family.

On inspection they proved to date from between 1883 and 1897, complete with the Reverend Henry Daniel's pencil corrections. How this gathering of wastepaper-bin contents came to survive is a mystery, but I have not been able to resist examining them in detail and making some observations about the printing practices of that authentic and original amateur private press printer. Comparison of the proof sheets with the books as finally issued tells us quite a lot about what he spotted and what he did not! Through these items we see Henry Daniel, working at his Albion at Worcester House in Oxford, setting up perhaps four or eight pages in his forme, pulling a proof, and marking the necessary corrections; in some cases we have a sequence of proofs of the same page showing us the changes he made. In one instance we also have a sequence of proofs for a title page, revealing the changes he made to the design, wording, and typography. Daniel was not a great technical printer but his work is now much collected for its charm, and, in particular, for his use of the ‘Fell types’ and early printing ornaments which he had acquired from Horace Hart at Oxford University Press.

As well as listing all the sheets, this monograph contains twelve pages of photographs of them, illustrating aspects of Daniel’s working practices. It also reprints a fine obituary of Daniel by the writer Edmund Gosse. The 32pp of text are set in 12pt Caslon Old Face, printed on a ream of antique Turkey Mill wove paper. It is case-bound to a size and style that matches Falconer Madan's bibliography of the Daniel Press and our title The Daniel Press in Frome (see above).

The edition is just 95 copies. The price is £84 per copy.

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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sheets are available for binders in 13 sections

'a glorious production', 'a bold and ambitious study', 'a very well-written and well-made book, and one that every student of modern fine printing will want to read and own'

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. Meynell’s Romney Street Press
8. Robert Bridges and Fell’s music type
9. O.U.P.’s own use of the types
10. The printing of Morison’s John Fell
11. O.U.P.’s 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

We have been delighted by the way the book has been received by our customers. Adjectives used to date include outstanding, marvellous, breathtaking, splendid, superb, beautiful, handsome and wonderful.

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 (US$300). (ISBN 978 1 899933 07 5)

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 (€130, US$130). A further fifty copies were reserved for binders in folded and collated sheets, £45 per set. (ISBN 978 1 899933 06 8)


An alphabet book of tanka by James Kirkup

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In 1924, the bookseller-editor René Hilsum commissioned the great poet Paul Valéry to write twenty-four prose poems to accompany lettrines (ornamental capitals). The letters K and W which are rare in French were omitted. The series, representing the twenty-four hours of the day, were engraved by Louis Jou. Valéry published a few of these alphabet poems, but the collection itself remained unfinished and unedited.

Drawing on the archives of Valériana in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, Michel Jarrety established an edition under the title Alphabet, published in 1999. For certain letters, more than one prose poem was composed, some of them accompanied by the poet's own delicate watercolours. James Kirkup was inspired by this unique literary/ typographical concept to compose a tanka sequence, twenty-nine in all, on the letters of the alphabet. The use of the 31-syllable Japanese tanka form in 5-line stanzas gives the concept a unity somewhat lacking in Valéry's interpretation.

Kirkup's delightful and poised verses are printed in Monotype Fournier Molé Foliate initials on a stock of pre-1914 Renage près Rives hand-made paper originally bought by the Carthusian Monastery at Parkminster, Sussex. The verses and introduction are printed on five half sheets of the Rives, and each half-sheet is folded to form four horizontal panels, the folded sheets then being wrapped in a cover of heavy hand-made paper from the Larroque mill in a delicious blue-green and tied with a ribbon. There were 190 copies at £15 each. (ISBN 978 1 899933 09 9)


Only the printer knows

The story of a book from The Old School Press that nearly never was

in print - only Variant C copies left

Watch a short video of the book


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Thirty years after we published our first book, Venice Approached, it seemed fitting to mark 2022 in some way. Perhaps unconventionally, we have done this not with a conspectus of our output over those three decades but instead with a book about the travails of printing, and about the serendipitous but disaster-laden story of one book in particular, our tenth, Venice Visited.

Venice Visited was five years in the making and was the product of much luck and much angst. Each of the components that went into the book had its story: the type, the text paper, the illustrations, the cover papers, the printing. At one point things went so badly wrong the project was very nearly abandoned. This book tells the story.

Only the printer knows runs to twenty-four large pages, the text hand-set in 14pt Dante, and printed on a dampened hand-made laid paper. The paper probably dates from the 1930s. It came originally from Oxford University Press, via Whittington Press who acquired the remaining stocks of OUP's hand-made papers when the Printing House closed. John Bidwell examined this paper and reckoned that it was part of the making by Batchelor for the Bruce Rogers Lectern Bible published in 1933. As such the paper has had a history. This book has been printed on folded half-sheets and we decided to keep the deckle edges and not to have the bottom and fore edges trimmed even though some have become a little dusty - it is part of the paper's history.

There are three variants in an edition totalling 62 copies. The book itself is quarter-bound with bright yellow cloth on the spine, and a paper by Jemma Lewis (gold splatter on plum) on the boards, 350mm by 250mm, in all three variants. Each copy contains a four-page fold from the original book and a copy of the original four-page prospectus. There is a paper label on the front board.

Variant A comprises the book and a selection of fifty-nine letterpress past ephemeral items from the Press in a clamshell archive box, together with a collection of ‘overs’ sheets from twenty-three past books also in a clamshell archive box, the two boxes held in a two-piece drop-front archive box. All the boxes bear paper labels. £220.

Variant B comprises the book and a selection of about forty letterpress past ephemeral items from the Press in a clamshell archive box, together with a collection of ‘overs’ sheets from about fifteen past books also in a clamshell archive box, the two boxes held in a two-piece drop-front archive box. All the boxes bear paper labels.  £165.

Variant C is the book on its own. £90.

Copyright © Martyn Ould 2023

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