Thursday, July 3, 2014

One of our favorite things

So many gems are tucked away in the Tampa Book Arts Studio library that it’s difficult to choose one to inaugurate this series of posts about the “best” of the collection. We plan to feature one item, or a related group of items, regularly on this blog, so check back often and see what we've brought out to delight you. Since there are nearly 8,000 items in the collection, it will be a long time before we run out of the “best” of what we have to share.

     We decided to begin the series with the copy of An Essay on Typography that came to us as part of Lee Harrer's generous donation. This first edition was published in June 1931 in an edition of 500 copies. Eric Gill (1882-1940) not only wrote and illustrated the book, he also printed it by hand, with his son-in-law, Rene Hague. This book exemplifies Gill’s versatility. His great talents complemented one another in the fields of sculpture, type design, writing, illustration, engraving, and printing, and he made this book at a high point in his career, having just completed the design of Gill Sans types and finished a major sculptural commission for reliefs on the headquarters building overlooking St. James's Park for the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, which was awarded a London Architectural Medal in 1931 from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
    Gill first trained to be an architect, but gave it up after meeting and studying with the renowned calligrapher Edward Johnston. After that meeting, he became interested in calligraphy and the cutting of letters in stone, and the art of sculpture generally. His work exemplifies the Art Deco style and unashamedly portrays human sexuality and the body. He and his wife moved to Ditchling in Sussex, England, in 1903, where he founded the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic after World War I. The Guild and the workshops he established later were communities of craftsmen that put into practice the anti-industrial ideas that Gill propounded in essays on art and the modern world.
     His career took a new turn after Stanley Morison, the type designer most famous for the ubiquitous Times New Roman, invited Gill to design new type faces for the Monotype Corporation. The results of their collaboration include Perpetua, Gill Sans, and Joanna. American type designer Beatrice Warde was also employed at Monotype when Gill was working for them, and was inspired by Gill’s Perpetua type to write her famous broadside titled "This Is a Printing Office." (Warde was also the model for his woodcut of a female nude called “La Belle Sauvage.”) The Joanna type was specifically designed for Gill’s own press, and he used it to set An Essay on Typography. The year 1931 also marked the publication of Gill's masterpiece in the field of book design: The Four Gospels, published by the Golden Cockerel Press.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Christmas in Midsummer for TBAS Library

The Tampa Book Arts Studio Library Collections received an unexpected summertime visit from Santa Claus as donor Lee J. Harrer brought in some special vintage gifts that complement and showcase the antique printing blocks in our Les Feller Family Collections.  Lee is extending the Harrer Collection of Books about Books to include original editions published by Donohue & Co.  of Chicago that are printed from the antique blocks that were rescued and preserved by Les Feller, who discovered them in the vaults of the Chicago printer. They are now a treasured part of the TBAS Feller Family Collections. (See our post about a title, Jolly Jingles, discovered early on in the Collection.)

This color cover is from the Santa Claus Big Picture Book published by Donohue about one hundred years ago. The Feller Collection blocks include many sets of four-color separations, along with some engravings intended to be printed in a single color.  The Studio plans to produce limited-edition prints from the original blocks and will be making them available in portfolio sets as a fundraising activity.  Meantime, we look forward to being inspired by antique examples of the original printings, thanks to Lee’s book-collecting skills and generosity.

If you happen to have original children’s books from Donohue and Company that you would like to contribute to the library, please contact us at utpress@ut.edu.

Friday, June 13, 2014

23 Students Take Letterpress Printing and Publishing Course

THE TAMPA BOOK ARTS STUDIO WAS FILLED TO OVERFLOWING this Spring with twenty-three University of Tampa students enrolled in a course entitled “Printing, Publishing & Book Arts.” The course was taught by University of Tampa faculty members Richard Mathews, director of the studio and a professor of English and Writing, and Kendra Frorup, a sculptor and mixed media artist and a professor of Art, assisted by the TBAS Letterpress Coordinator Carl Mario Nudi and Studio Associate Joshua Steward. The class met every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the 14-week semester.

Students surveyed the history of printing and publishing from incunabula to contemporary artists’ books.  They studied type design and typography from historical and digital angles, and they explored hands-on aspects of letterpress printing.

Nearly every available surface in the studio was utilized while students learned typesetting by hand from the California job case. As they became more familiar with the types available to them, they designed and printed limited edition postcards, larger broadsides with two or more colors, and they planned and completed a variety of individual projects. Most of the students also learned to set and cast lines of type on the Ludlow Typograph, which gave them an even broader selection of type styles and sizes than those found in the cases of vintage foundry types in the studio.  

Frorup instructed students throughout the semester in the making of paper and showed them techniques for producing decorative paste papers and marbled papers. She also taught the students several binding techniques and worked individually with them to help them master different stitches and book forms. Everyone completed at least one binding exercise employing the pamphlet stitch and another using a stab binding.


They also gained experience and confidence in using the array of letterpress equipment in the studio, from composing sticks to galleys to furniture and quoins.  They all completed limited edition letterpress runs using our Vandercook presses—a Model 4 and Model 219AB. They took on the responsibility of printing the work they designed, which involved setting, proofing, and correcting their type, preparing and locking-up forms, and registering their sheets.

The last weeks of the course became a time for experimentation with different materials and with the traditional forms of printing. A few tackled split fountain (or “rainbow roll”) printing, others tried their hand at carving wood or linoleum blocks, monotype printing, collography, screen printing, hand-tinting, and even wood working. The students’ final projects were varied. Many included binding as well as printing, and some created chapbooks of poetry, stories, or essays. The course concluded with a session for the students to show and comment on the work they had done—and to collect all of the letterpress postcards into a die-cut and letterpress-printed portfolio packet designed to hold a complete class set (shown in slideshow below).


Click on photos within the slideshows to see larger versions

Special thanks to Jennifer Deg and Jack Whitaker for additional photographs

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Jim Servies, 1925-2014


FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND ADMIRERS of Jim Servies are mourning his passing in Pensacola, Florida, on May 30, 2014, at the age of 88. He was a champion of books and print culture throughout his long life as a librarian, author, editor, printer, publisher, and bookseller. After graduating from the University of Chicago, he began his career as a librarian there, and then served in various positions at the University of Miami (Coral Gables), the College of William and Mary, and the University of West Florida.
     During those years, Jim edited or wrote a number of books, including A Bibliography of John Marshall (1956), A Selected Bibliography of Virginia, 1607-1699 (1957), Earl Gregg Swem, A Bibliography (1960), The Poems of Charles Hansford (1961), and The Log of H.M.S. Mentor, 1780-1781 (1982). His work on these publications, and his experience as a reference librarian, prepared Jim to tackle a book that would be nearly two decades in the making: A Bibliography of Florida. First, Jim and his wife Lana spent four years cataloging more than 40,000 (yes, forty thousand!) books, articles, and other documents printed in or about the state of Florida. Then, after Jim retired in 1986, they began to work in earnest on their magnum opus. It would be published in four volumes between 1993 and 2002, totaling more than 2,000 pages and 18,052 entries. Michael Slicker of Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg calls it “one of the (if not the) finest state bibliographies ever produced.” 
     Jim and Lana were active in the world of antiquarian books as proprietors of King and Queen Books, which has issued nearly 50 catalogs. They helped found the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association and its much-admired book fair, held annually in St. Petersburg.
     The name King and Queen was also used for their press, which issued occasional hand-printed keepsakes, facsimiles and ephemera, many of which have a Christmas theme. The long list includes The Angels [by John Updike] (1968), An Ode to the King and Queen Press (1968), Christmas All Hail! (1969), The Office of Christmas (1974), Christmas Couplets (1975), Pensacola’s First Christmas Tree! (1978), Welcome Christmas (1979), A Christmas Tree Question (1980), A Christmas Shopping List: 1902 (1982), The New-Year Elephant (1983), A Florida Christmas, 1882 (1986), Holiday Recipes, A.D. 1594 (1988), Christmas Eve at Sea (1989), Little tree, little silent Christmas tree (1990), A Christmas Orange (1991), Florida: A Hundred Years Hence (1992), Christmas on Mt. Olympus (1993), The Eskimos’ Christmas (1997), Jennie’s Christmas, 1901 (1998), and Christmas in the Bag: A Major Jones Story (1999).
     Jim’s friend and colleague Michael Slicker remembers him as “a man of tireless energy and a friend of the book who guided the University of West Florida Library through its early years, sent hand-printed keepsakes from time to time, supported the book fair in its early years, and was always willing to share his time and his knowledge. Moreover, he was a ‘gentle’ man in every sense of the word.  The world is a little darker today without the light of Jim's smile.”

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book Arts Studio Associates See Stars after Hosting Whirlwind Demonstrations and Tours





The Tampa Book Arts Studio associates were literally “seeing stars” recently as they played host to more than eighty graduate students in Creative Writing. They were here as part of the low-residency MFA program that draws students from all over the world to take part in an intensive ten-day residency of lectures, writing workshops, seminars, and readings. And the stars were being freshly cast in type metal as part of the celebration.



The student visit to the TBAS began in the early afternoon with a presentation by the Studio’s director, Richard Mathews, offering a broad overview of the history of the written word and its printing and publishing developments through time. In a later presentation given to third- and fourth-term students, more advanced topics were discussed. These included questions about the long-term effects on reading habits as a consequence of increased consumption of digital and  web-based texts. He described issues raised by Nicholas Carr in The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, which include preliminary evidence that there is a subtle (and subversive) training of the brain by digital culture to interact with digital texts in fast and superficial ways, with a consequent loss of deep thought and craftsmanship in digitally-created texts. He concluded the presentation by referring to historical and modern writers-as-publishers, reminding them that writers themselves can have a deep and profound impact in shaping how and what we read.

Dr. Richard Mathews lectures on the history of the printed word and advent of the codex.

Following the presentation, the students tried their hands at traditional book crafts. Kendra Frorup and Carlos Camargo Vilardy, of the UT Art Department, showed them how to create paste papers and marbled papers, and Bridget Elmer—of The Southern Letterpress, Gulfport, Florida, and Coordinator of Ringling College of Art and Design’s Letterpress and Book Arts Center—gave demonstrations on book binding, case binding, and pamphlet stitching.


Kendra Frorup and Carlos Camargo Vilardy demonstrate paste paper techniques. 

Bridget Elmer discusses elements of bookbinding by hand.

Meanwhile, at the letterpress studio, students visited three stations that represent the craft of letterpress printing. First, Dr. Mathews explained Gutenberg’s method for casting individual pieces of type by pouring molten metal into a hand mold, sorting it into a case, and setting it into lines by hand. 


Dr. Richard Mathews explains handset type and hand casting.


At the second station, Joshua Steward of UT Press ran a vintage 1920s Monotype Sorts Caster (the “Orphan Annie”) which mechanized the casting of individual letters and decorative pieces. Students could choose one of three different 18-point star ornaments to be cast on the machine and kept to commemorate the event.



Tampa Press Editing and Publishing Assistant Joshua Steward answers questions
about casting type and ornaments on the Monotype Sorts Caster.

Two of those three ornaments were used on a broadside, created by the TBAS staff in preparation for the event, as another keepsake for the students. As part of the tour, each student printed, with the help of TBAS Letterpress Coordinator Carl Mario Nudi, the second and final run of the commemorative broadside on the Vandercook.

TBAS Letterpress Coordinator Carl Mario Nudi talks with students
about printing on a Vandercook Proof Press.

* * *



“We'll keep on until we're in star country”


The concept of the broadside's design was multi-purpose: the quote used—“We'll keep on until we're in star country”—is taken from a quiet moment of dialogue between two characters in the novel The Tilted World, by Tom and Beth Anne Fennelly, visiting authors for the Residency who gave a reading for the students later that evening on campus; additionally, as this semester marks the completion and graduation by the students of the inaugural cohort of the MFA in Creative Writing program, these graduates are the first to take the knowledge they've gained and strike out into the expansive world of creative writing and other fields of their interest—each reaching for their own “star country.”





Stars and display type were cast on the Ludlow and Monotype Casters, with the colophon handset; the broadside was printed with process black and tinted-blue inks on Crane's Lettra Pearl stock.



* * *

Thanks to Rich Hopkins for the loan of his star Monotype matrices,
and to Kendra Frorup, Carlos Camargo Vilardy, and Bridget Elmer
for their time, effort, and willingness to share their extensive knowledge.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Gift of Fine Books from Lee J. Harrer Enriches and Deepens Our TBAS Library


A SIGNIFICANT DONATION by bookman Lee J. Harrer from his personal collection of books about books helped launch the Tampa Book Art Studio Library Collections in 2008. This year he helped us celebrate the holiday season by adding some 2,200 additional items to the collection with a gift appraised at more than $117,000.

Highlights of the new materials include important letterpress books from some of the major contemporary fine presses: Henry Morris’s Bird & Bull Press, John and Rosalind Randle’s Whittington Press, and Jan and Crispin Elsted’s Barbarian Press, to name a few.

One component with special resonance for us is a fascinating body of items from the estate of Helen Lee, who was the Director of Type Sales for many years at the MacKenzie-Harris Type Foundry in San Francisco. Unique items include signed woodcut proofs from Barry Moser, letterpress ephemera of many kinds from private press printers, signed trials and proofs from private presses, and even some assorted correspondence.


One of the most unique items in this group is a paper placemat inscribed and presented to Helen Lee for her birthday in 1982. It features an elaborate bird and heart pierced by an arrow, drawn by the artist Valenti Angelo (whose books are a feature of the TBAS collection), and signatures by Oscar Lewis, a leading member of the Book Club of California; Tommie Tommassini, President of the National Printer’s Association; and George Robert Kane, a noted bookseller.


Already in our collection and complementing these new items from the Helen Lee estate is a vintage MacKenzie-Harris Type Foundry catalog donated by Calligrapher Ruth Pettis, who worked with Konglomerati Press for many years. The Konglomerati types and presses now form the heart of the Tampa Book Arts Studio, and some of the types were purchased from Helen at the M&H Foundry.

With the addition of this new gift, the Tampa Book Arts Studio Library Collection has grown to more than 7,700 items.  We will be featuring some of the highlights from Lee’s most recent donation on our blog throughout the coming year. Thanks to the generosity of Lee Harrer—and with the substantial additional gifts and collections from J. B. Dobkin, the Les Feller Family, and many generous individuals—the students in our Printing, Publishing, and Book Arts classes will have a chance to see examples of some of the finest printers in the world.

When these new gifts are combined with earlier donations, the value of the Lee J. Harrer Collection of Books about Books exceeds $426,000.  Lee is now at work on a third donation that includes his miniature books and related press ephemera, runs of book-related periodicals, and new limited-edition, fine press items such as the Barbarian Press magnum opus on type ornaments of the Curwen Press, Bordering on the Sublime.

Monday, December 16, 2013

More Hot Type to Savor with the Arrival of the Monotype Composition Caster

MORE HOT METAL ACTION IS TAKING SHAPE now at the Tampa Book Arts Studio! The turn-of-the-century typecasting marvel—and the gold standard for fine printing and book composition in its day—the Monotype Composition Caster has arrived at the Tampa Book Arts Studio! It’s taken its place in the Studio’s hot-type “foundry corner” to join with its typecasting kin, the Intertype, the Ludlow, and the Monotype “Orphan Annie” caster.


TBAS Director Richard Mathews and Letterpress Coordinator Carl Mario Nudi
 stand with the newly unwrapped machine still anchored to the pallet.
Earlier this year, having just completed Monotype University, TBAS Letterpress Coordinator Carl Mario Nudi and Tampa Press Publishing Assistant Joshua Steward visited typefounder and printer Ian Schaefer at his studio in Lititz, Pennsylvania, to rig and prepare the caster and keyboard for shipment to Tampa.
Tampa Press Publishing Assistant Joshua Steward
and printer, typecaster Ian Schaefer wrap the caster
with pallet wrap.

Carl and Josh used 2x6-inch lumber to construct a custom pallet that fit around the narrow base of the caster, giving it a wider footprint for stability during transport. Steel eyebolts were driven into the boards, and ratchet tie-down straps and heavy cord were threaded through the base and back through the machine to anchor it to the base. The caster was then covered with a blanket, wrapped in heavy tarps, and sealed with layers of pallet-wrap to weatherize it for travel and storage on its journey south.



Shaking hands over the fully-wrapped caster, now ready to be shipped.
Dave Seat of Hot Metal Services in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, was picking up some equipment in the Pennsylvania area, and we were able to arrange to hitch a ride, first from Pennsylvania to HMS in Tennessee, where our Monotype was happy to hang out until one of Dave’s service trips could bring it further South to Tampa, where we welcomed to its new home in the Book Arts Studio.
     
     Accompanying the machine was a curious but necessary supporting cast of many replacement parts, molds, and matrices that had to be sorted, cleaned, cataloged, and stored. Carl undertook this task and made a place in the studio for each piece and part. Once this was done and the parts cleared away, the unwrapping of the machine could begin, one layer at a time.
Left: TBAS Director Richard Mathews begins cutting through the many layers of pallet wrap.
Right: Letterpress Coordinator Carl Mario Nudi releases the cords anchoring and protecting the machine.

After the unpacking, the space where the caster was going to be settled needed to be made—fitting neatly in the Studio between the Intertype and the “Orphan Annie” Monotype Caster—though, this required the Intertype to be moved a few feet to the left, while the “Orphan Annie” needed to be moved a few feet to the right:

Once this was done, the Monotype Composition Caster was coaxed into its permanent place in the Studio and lowered to the floor:

 



 – Thanks to Ian Schaefer and Dave Seat –
For their hard work, diligence, and for the knowledge they’ve been so willing to share.