Archive for the 'Nice things' Category

Michael Harvey, Adventures With Letters

26 June 2012

Adventures With LettersMichael Harvey has been working with letters for more than sixty years. He has drawn them and cut them, he has written about them and taught them, he has made fonts. He was taught by Joseph Cribb and Reynolds Stone who in turn were taught by Eric Gill, so he links the current generation of lettering and type design with the great revival of the Arts and Crafts movement. Having absorbed its influence he moved on to other letter forms, sometimes exploring for its own sake, always considering the function of what he was doing.

Now he has told the story of his Adventures with Letters in a book that he has written, designed and illustrated with numerous drawings, photographs and type specimens. It’s published by his 47 editions imprint, and we’re very pleased that he’s asked us to distribute it. It is available here, now!


Review of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on the book blog

21 March 2012

It’s always nice when our work gets attention, and even nicer when it’s favourable, so we were very pleased to see the review of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on the Book Blog. As well as being well-researched it features a number of nice photos of the book.

48 hour poster sales

19 January 2012

On 20 and 21 January everything on our poster website,, will cost only £25.00 plus postage and packing, a reduction of 50% on many items.

What are you waiting for?

Great reception for Jekyll and Hyde

22 December 2011

We’re very pleased that Books and Vines has had some nice things to say about our Jekyll and Hyde. There are some interesting and complementary comments, too. We learnt there that the correct title of the book is Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, with no definite article, and were pleased to see Edward A Wilson’s illustrations for the Limited Editions Club edition of 1952.

We’ve also had a nice email from a reader in the USA:

‘My friend Chris Adamson,’ he writes, ‘who is the guiding light behind the fine press & private press blog and website “Books and Vines” sent digital photos of the book to me via e-mail and it is a clearcut  “home-run”, a book I simply could not pass on. The book design is superb and Ms. Barrett’s illustrations are splendid, atmospheric, perfectly in tune with the mood and feel of this small masterpiece.  I look forward to receiving it and adding it to my library.”

Insanely great

19 December 2011

‘Evan Davis decodes the formula that took Apple from suburban garage to global supremacy’, says BBC iPlayer of Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy. Well, up to a point. Interesting though it was, the programme didn’t seem to grasp the importance of design in Apple’s success. Lord Stephen Fry, apparently wheeled out as the voice of the user (why is this condescending, self-important public schoolboy so popular?), told us that when things look good we like using them and they work better. We needed a better insight.

Around the time of the first G5 Power Mac Jobs talked about the way design is central to Apple. How the computer worked, both software and hardware, was designed; design was more than a cosmetic afterthought. They thought about how people used computers and made the computers fit around the people, not the other way round. iPhones and iPads are successful not just because Apple found a way to package up the internet into small pieces, as Davis put it, but because using them is insanely easy.

That is an attitude that we share, despite the vast differences between our companies. ‘What will make this piece easy to read?’ is one of the key unspoken questions when we are asked to design something. The answers are usually pretty simple, things like the getting the right number of words on a line and the right relationship between word spacing and line spacing, but they are what make the difference.

Jekyll & Hyde award

9 November 2011

The biennial Oxford Fine Press Book Fair was held last weekend, and one of our exhibits was our edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. We’ve been rather quiet about that book for a while, because shortly after publication last year we found a serious typographic error. We reprinted the text over the summer, and had Angela Barrett’s illustrations reprinted by Northend Creative Print Solutions, who did an outstanding job. We’re very pleased with the result, so it was particularly gratifying that Angela was the sole winner the Parrot Prize for illustration at the fair.

We were also pleased that we sold all the copies we had. Smith Settle are now binding the rest of the edition, and it will be available soon from our new book website,

Imaginary Menagerie

27 September 2011

Imaginary Menagerietext/gallery have asked us to take part in Imaginary Menagerie, their forthcoming exhibition of tongue twisters. Mary Plunkett, who is with us from Dublin on a three month Leonardo de Vinci project grant, is making two prints with wood type. You can see them at the gallery from 20 October to 22 November, and we’ll be posting photos of them too.

No ephs or cays

5 September 2011

No ephs or caysWe were at the Whittington Press open day once again on Saturday. This time we took along something they had printed themselves some years ago for visitors to print on the proofing press. We first saw the text in Matrix 4, and it amuses us as much now as it did then.

Henry Bowers’ diary

21 August 2011

Henry Robertson Bowers was a member of Robert Scott’s second Antarctic expedition, and one of the party of five who reached the South Pole in January 1912. He kept a diary throughout his time in Antarctica. It is now the property of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, who are publishing it for the first time. We are delighted that they have chosen us to print the book. It will be set in Monotype Imprint, issued by the Monotype Corporation in 1912.

The book is currently being planned. It will probably be set in 10/11 point, and we’re doing tests, calculations and estimates to decide on paper and number of pages.

We intend to Tweet about the project as it progresses.


A new Heidelberg cylinder press

7 May 2011

Delivery of our new Heidelberg cylinderAt the end of February we wrote that we were having the cylinder of our Heidelberg SB renovated. We were premature. The engineer did come, and a series of height measurements showed that the cylinder was too worn to be worth repairing. It would have to be replaced. We talked to a couple of specialist engineers, and the offer we liked best was for a thorough inspection of our present machine to see if it was worth spending more on it. So, at the beginning of March, Mark came down from Senior Graphics. He told us about broken pinion teeth and worn compression screws. Even more expensive, and if the work was done there were still other things that could go wrong. The bullet was bitten, and we ordered  a fully refurbished, part-exchange replacement.

Yesterday was the big day, and our picture shows Mike from Seniors guiding the new machine through the doorway. Clicking on the picture will take you to our Flickr album of the old press being taken out and the new one coming in.

We’re particularly pleased that we’ve got a press that was previously used by Gwasg Gregynog. We are assured that it was in beautiful condition when Mike took it out, and he has stripped it right down, replaced what was worn and fitted new electrics. It looks, and smells, like a new machine.

Swapping the machines over only took a couple of hours, but then the guards and tables that had been taken off for transit had to be put back on, and the lovely new set of rollers put in. It’s a fiddly job, and probably the longest single part of the whole operation. We were finally ready for a test print in the middle of the afternoon.

Was it all worth it? The test printing was very promising. We used a forme that had already been printed on the old press, and we got to a point where it was looking very good without a single piece of make ready. We had previously spent the best part of two hours making it ready. We ran twenty or thirty sheets through twice, and the register was so good that the two printings couldn’t be seen under a magnifying glass. Running a few jobs over the next few days will tell us whether it’s living up to our high expectations.