21 December 2009


Today I had a visit from three young boys from the neighbourhood who showed a great deal of interest in the inky arts. After helping me print the last colour on a broadsheet commission I was completing for their father, I showed the boys around the shop and explained how the machines were used to make trade books. I’m told that these industrious fellows like making their own books at home, so I showed them a simple technique for binding chapbooks using a three-hole stitch. Perhaps I’ll have some summer help in the bindery in a decade or so, what?

The keepsake we printed featured (along with Miss Dickinson's poem) the first press trial of my new Memorial Hall ornaments. They worked very well in letterpress.


I’ve been thinking about calligraphic title pages, perhaps because I photographed a few good ones during recent book scouting adventures.

This one is from the opening pages of Hartmann Schedel’s Nuremberg Chronicle, which I’ve been exploring in the special collections room at Acadia University.

Another hand-lettered title page I like opens David Jones’s The Tribune’s Visitation (1969), a copy of which I’ve been coveting at my local antiquarian bookseller, The Odd Book. (It’s not expensive, I’ve just got a stack of other books to pay off first.) This particular copy was once owned by the New Brunswick poet Douglas Lochhead and includes his marginalia and line numbering. It’s a very handsome title page. I’m particularly fond of the choice and use of colour.

The ornate, William-Morris-influenced title pages found in Dent’s Everyman’s Library series, like this copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s In the South Seas & Island Nights’ Entertainments, were hand lettered and added a real sense of ceremony to what were otherwise mass-produced objects.

Being typographically inclined, I’ve not employed hand lettering on the title pages of many Gaspereau Press productions. The exceptions are the work of calligrapher Jack McMaster, such as this title page from Harry Thurston’s Broken Vessel (2007).


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