Registration now open for ‘Beauty of Letters’

January 16th, 2015

The long-awaited blockbuster symposium called “The Beauty of Letters: text, type and communication in the eighteenth century” which will take place in Birmingham, England on March 14 and 15, is now accepting registrants. It’s 85 quid for both days, but you can also come for one day and pay somewhat less. All the details are here, and you can register here.

Speakers are coming from Milan, St. Petersburg, Boston, Sienna, and all over the UK. There will even be a bookseller. I’m hoping to come myself!

–Bob McCamant

Arion Press seeks apprentices in printing and foundry

January 16th, 2015

Arion Actually, they also want a full time bookkeeper/office manager, but I’m guessing that readers of this blog will be more interested in the printing and foundry.

They don’t seem to post the job on their web site, so I’ll put the text of the email I received here:


Apprentices learn while working on book publishing projects, contract jobs, and type production for the two divisions. Work is full-time and vacation and health insurance are provided. Salary depends on previous experience with the minimum starting pay $11 per hour

Printing: Arion Press, fine printers and publishers of deluxe limited edition books, offers training in typography, book design, and letterpress printing that can lead to long-term employment. Commitment is for a minimum four years of employment.

Typecasting and Foundry Work: M & H Type, the oldest and largest surviving type foundry in the United States, offers training in typography, typecasting, and Monotype composition that can lead to long-term employment.

Commitment is for a minimum four years of employment: two years in apprentice status, followed by two years in journeyman status.

We wish we could accommodate all the talented and dedicated people who would like to come here to learn book making with us. Currently, we have two apprentices and two journeymen who have completed apprenticeships in the type foundry and two journeymen in the bindery who also completed apprenticeships. These people are also receiving training in the composing room and pressroom from a typographer/printer. We have a master typecaster and a master bookbinder, both part-time, who continue training in their departments. If you should come to San Francisco, we would be happy to meet you and show you the facility during one of our weekly public tours on Thursday afternoons at 3:30 by reservation.

APPLICATION: Please send a one-page letter and CV by post or email. Phone inquires: 415.668.2545

–Bob McCamant

Type Talks: Sign-writing discussed at Birmingham

January 3rd, 2015

15 January 2015 (registration opens 1730, talk commences 1800)

Joby Carter is passionate about painting letters, and will present a lecture on the art and craft of sign-writing in Britain. Just a few years ago signpainting was so much of a dying art that it was almost impossible to find a practicing signwriter who would be prepared to take on a trainee. Vinyl and plastic took over, and the skills that people had been passing on for generations were almost wiped out. But as the virtual world of computer-generated graphics has filled our spaces with anodyne typography, there has been a resurgence in interest in the traditionally painted letter.

Joby comes from the now rare position of someone who has been taught by a master sign-writer in the old apprentice tradition, and he can trace his painting pedigree back to a sign-writer working for the Hovis company at the turn of the century. He is keen that the art lives on and that the skills of the nineteenth century will still be around in another hundred years or more. Practical details and registration.

–Bob McCamant

Details of “Beauty of Letters” conference disclosed

December 21st, 2014

The speakers will come from Milan, St. Petersburg, Antwerp, Boston, not to mention Oxford and Cambridge. (By my count, there are 31 of them. And I confess I’ve never met a one.) The goal is to “explore the production, distribution, consumption and reception, not only of letters, but also words, texts and images during the long eighteenth century (c. 1688-1820).”

Featured speakers include: Lynda Mugglestone: Professor of the History of English, Times Lecturer, Pembroke College, Oxford. She is currently writing a book on Samuel Johnson and eighteenth-century English. Other recent work has focused on eighteenth-century lexicography, and on problematic aspects of representation in the Oxford English Dictionary–most recently in relation to the suffragettes and early suffragette history. Jenny Uglow: Author, critic, historian, and editor. Her books include Elizabeth Gaskell: a habit of stories; The Lunar Men: the friends who made the future; and Nature’s engraver: a life of Thomas Bewick. Susan Whyman: Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and author of The pen and the people: English letter writers, which won the Modern Language Association prize in 2010; Sociability and power: the cultural worlds of the Verneys. Susan is co-editor of Walking the streets of eighteenth-century London.

Sounds like fun. What’s Birmingham like in mid-March? Booking is not yet declared open, but all the details are here to read.

–Bob McCamant

Winners at Pyramid Atlantic

November 30th, 2014

CarriganMessengerBetter late than never: winners at the Pyramid Atlantic book fair (November 14-16) included Valerie Carrigan’s book, Messenger, awarded by Jenna Rinalducci, and pictured above; Anne Covell’s book, Leaves, awarded by Robert Peters, and Robin Price, selected by Robert Peters.

–Bob McCamant

Fleece, Old Stile Presses Receive Design Awards

November 23rd, 2014

The British Book Design and Production Awards, rife with awards to big names in publishing like Thames and Hudson and Phaidon, also has two of FPBA’s press members as winners:

sensuous_linesSensuous Lines, “A Catalogue Raisonne of the intaglio prints of John Buckland Wright,” won the “Best British Book” category for Fleece Press. The images were assembled by Christopher Buckland Wright, the artist’s son, who gathered together surviving copper plates left in the artist’s studio at the time of his death. Not surprisingly, the most deluxe edition of the book is already sold out.

the_third_thingA selection of poems with woodcut images by Ralph Kiggell, The Third Thing, was the winner for The Old Stile Press in the Limited Edition and Fine Binding category.

–Bob McCamant

A Book History Research Network Study Day

November 7th, 2014

Where else, but Birmingham? Birmingham The indefatigable Caroline Archer explains, “Whilst the book trade, and its historians, may focus on the capital, every provincial town also has its own typographic history embedded in its ephemera, pamphlets, newspapers and books; and every regional town has designed, produced, published and printed books of both interest and value. This symposium considers the productions relating to, and of, the regional press.”

The event is Friday, December 5, and these are the speakers:
Caroline Archer (Birmingham City University) Items form the archives: printed in Birmingham
Rob Banham (University of Reading) William Gye: printer of Bath
Lucy Collins (University College, Dublin) To Russia with love: a poetry pamphlet from World War II Belfast
Jenni Dixon (Independent scholar, Birmingham) Dealers in curiosity: how print promoted Birmingham wares
Mike Dring (Birmingham City University) Projecting the technocratic city
Andrew Kulman (Birmingham City University) Promoting the new Birmingham, 1964-80
Persida Lazerivic (Università Chieti-Pescara) From Rome to ‘Little Rome’ all over Rumelia
Ian Montgomery (University of Ulster) Printing and books on the edge of the Union
David Osbaldestin (Birmingham City University) Birmingham’s nineteenth century printers and the use of the sanserif
Ines Vodopivec (Independent scholar, Slovenia) Book culture in [non]existence of printing
Ian Horton (University of the Arts, London) Where did hard Werken get Rotterdaon?

It’s free, but to attend, reserve here.

–Bob McCamant

Another year, another Ink, Press, Repeat

November 5th, 2014

One exhibitor uses “press” in his self-identification, and I recognize at least one long-time FPBA member among the names named. I myself hope to make it to see the exhibit some year. It already opened, and will be at William Patterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. Details here.

–Bob McCamant

Lance Hidy exhibit and talk

October 30th, 2014

hidy-art_x480Lance Hidy, the legendary artist and graphic artist of food and postage stamps, has an exhibit up at the Museum of Printing in North Andover, Massachusetts. It can be viewed on Saturdays between 10 am and 4 pm, into December. (Large groups can attend at other times, by arrangement.)

To go with this, he’s giving a talk, called “A Printmaker’s Progress,” on Friday, November 7, at 7 pm, at the museum. They’ve got the talk up on their home page, and if you have 25 seconds to kill, you might be interested in the time-lapse film of the opening night of the exhibit. You might even pick out somebody you know!

–Bob McCamant

Gastronomy and Fine Print in San Francisco

October 26th, 2014

FeastThe week after the APHA/Dard Hunter conference in San Francisco, the Book Club of California scheduled a 2-day event called “A Feast for the Eyes” at their club house and two other venues in its neighborhood. What’s not to like? I found it fascinating and was very impressed with the BCC’s organization.

I’ve posted half a dozen pictures on the FPBA Facebook page. I won’t attempt comprehensive coverage, but will mention what were the highlights for me.

Randall Tarpey-Schwed was an instrumental organizer of the event, and his presentation Friday, the first day, was a tour-de-force chronicle of what one can learn by careful book collecting. Inscriptions in books linked food writer M.F.K. Fisher, collector Harold H. Price, screenwriter Idwal Jones, fine printer Ward Richie, and many others.

We relocated to the Commonwealth Club for one presentation, on more commercial culinary publishing, which was being recorded for broadcast and podcast. It was moderated by Joyce Goldstein and featured insiders from Chronicle Books, Sunset Magazine, and Ten Speed Press.

I overheard some grumbling about the next presentation, which was three blog writers talking about their approach to this new form of culinary publishing, but found it interesting myself. The writers behind the blogs “Dash and Bella,” “5 Second Rule,” and “Yummy Supper” each spoke about writing blogs and cookbooks, since they all do both.

PanelFor those of us for whom no trip to Codex is complete without a visit to Chez Panisse, the presentation by Patricia Curtan, David Lance Goines, and Wesley Tanner was probably the summit of the program. All three had stories which blended Alice Waters and printing. (Stephen Thomas, left, was the moderator.)

For me personally, the presentation by Ben Kinmont was the conference’s meatiest food for thought. Kinmont sells antiquarian gastronomic books from the unlikely location of Sebastapol, California, but also produces occasional art/food events in such cities as Montpelier, Amsterdam, Paris, and San Francisco.

Both days ended with delicious receptions in the BCC club rooms featuring handcrafted spirits, wine, and beer–not to mention delicious snacks–and plenty of conversation.

Saturday morning we were amused by the story of The Poodle Dog and its publicity. This establishment had many incarnations, all of which featured good food, [perhaps sometimes misleadingly labled] strong drink, and rooms whose design permitted visits between prosperous men of commerce and women who were not their wives.

The afternoon highlight was a panel discussion between two biographers of M.F.K. Fisher, Anne Zimmerman and Jeannette Ferrary, moderated by Randall Tarpey-Schwed. One point upon which all agreed: if you haven’t ever read any of her writing, start with _Gastronomical Me_.

To ease us into our final hour of drinking and talking, Tom Ingalls showed a torrent of beautiful wine labels for California vineyards, designed by California artists and designers–from classics of the 70s through the amazing labels being printed directly on bottles today.

–Bob McCamant