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.


Unutterable garbage

4 August 2011

Sometimes we’re given a job that is truly horrible, and we had one on press yesterday. There really is nothing positive to say about the copy or the design, and there’s rather a lot that’s negative. It would be indiscreet, and bad business, to say it, and our customer may find it a thing of beauty. We certainly hope they’re happy with our printing. But really…

Internship booking open for one day only

11 July 2011

We’re really pleased that we get a good response when we announce that we’re taking bookings for internships. It generates quite a lot of work, though, so this time we’re trying a new approach.

Booking for August to October is open for today only, and we’ll be processing applications strictly in the order in which they’re received. This means that if you apply, you may not hear from us for a few days. It also means that we’ll be ignoring any applications made after today, and will re-open booking if we don’t fill all the places.

If we offer you a place we’ll be asking for a deposit cheque of £25. It will be returned when the internship starts, or sent to the Disasters Emergency Committee if you cancel within three weeks of the start of the internship.

To apply, please send an email to

18 pt Engraver’s Roman

26 May 2011

We recently bought twenty-five cases of second-hand type. We were looking for scrap to melt down to ingots, but some of it was too good to let go. Like this 18 pt Engraver’s Roman, large and small face, from Stephenson Blake. There’s quite a lot of wood letter too, which we’ll tell you more about when we’ve been able to go through it.

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.

24 pt Gill Sans Italic

26 April 2011

We’ve just added two quarter-founts of 24 pt Gill Sans Italic to our ebay store. We’d hired the matrices for a job of our own, so we’re selling the founts at a price that is unlikely ever to be repeated. We’ve used the Monotype Corporation’s quarter-fount scheme, 10A 18a. The type is gloriously new and shiny from our Supercaster, and we’ve printed special labels for our fount boxes.

As for our own job, that’s something we’ll be telling you about here when it’s ready.

Parenthesis 20

4 April 2011

Cover of Parenthesis 20The latest issue of Parenthesis, the journal of the Fine Press Book Association, arrived last week. We were particularly keen to see it, because we designed and printed the cover. The numerals were cut in wood by Michael Harvey and we set everything else in metal by hand and by machine.

Parenthesis is published twice yearly, with alternate issues being produced in the UK and North America. The UK editor is Sebastian Carter, who once again has put together an exciting issue. Can you really afford to miss articles about the resurgence in French book design in the final year of the Second World War? Or posters at the Whittington Press? Or Times Classic, a significant improvement on Times New Roman? The list goes on. All that and our cover.

If you don’t subscribe already, why not?

Internship booking closed for April-June

9 March 2011

Response to our internship programme is fantastic – thank you everyone who’s interested. The places for the next three months are filled and booking is closed.