Publishing Group Annual 2013 - Printing in Miniature
A review of the Publishing Group Annual 2013 by Fred Eagles
(formerly Small Printing)
The BPS Publishing Group has produced the cooperative annual booklet known as Small Printing for many years but from 2013 it has become the Publishing Group Annual. This year the theme is Printing in Miniature, an A5 landscape Wire-O bound production with fifteen contributors.
Alan Brignull’s page is beautifully set and printed letterpress in a number of sizes of Stephenson Blake’s Modern #20. He finds himself limited by the size of his press so he has resorted to concentrating on printing small ephemera such as ‘postage stamps’ and similar. Peter Criddle has a miniature alphabet printed from his wide ranging collection of stock blocks and cuts, both ancient and modern. He invites the reader to remove his page and cut it into folded strips to make a concertina booklet. What, and destroy this excellent piece? ’Fraid not!
John Easson takes Printing in Miniature quite literally, setting his page about the Lord’s Prayer cut onto a 12pt em by those punch-cutting wizards at Monotype, in 6pt Eurostyle Extended, a perfect impression on Mellotex too. He prints a legible rendition of a similar cutting by Nebiolo of the Ave Maria cut on a 12 pt em at the bottom of his page.
So far, the pages have been letterpress. However, Mike Elliston resorts to scanning his miniature newspaper called the Daily Mimer from 1961 and printing this eight-pager digitally. I’m not surprised, for setting this piece today, handset mainly in 7pt Times Roman, would be quite a challenge. This newspaper even had a crossword puzzle, set in 8pt square border units!
Another contributor, Paul Hatcher, invites readers to remove his pages from the volume and cut them up. By following the instructions a miniature book, exquisitely set in Stephenson Blake’s Verona and skilfully illustrated in colour by a collection of border units and swashes, can be the result. Again I prefer to leave this PG Annual whole.
Rarely does one come across an impression taken, intentionally, from a chase but John Holmes surrounds his text in Garamond with this image to demonstrate the limitations of his first Adana HS2 press and how it came to limit his earliest productions to printing in miniature. Owen Legg follows with the story of Tom Thumb set in 6 pt Perpetua accompanied by an illustration of the hero of the piece. Rachel Marsh sets squares of Monotype border units in blue, overlaid with larger units in red alongside a short commentary on how Kodak has survived the change to newer technologies.
There was a time when the smallest metal font generally available was Claritas, a 4¾ pt size cut for use by The Times in its small-ad columns. John Miller has two different pages showing how times have changed: on his first a Japanese company now measures its font sizes in microns (!) in an attempt to foil counterfeiters and, on the second, Matthew Welch from squaregear.net allows you to download a TrueType font which is just four pixels high (because he can?)
A real miniature book is mounted on the first page from Ron Prosser, a delightfully illustrated story of the birth of Jesus. His second leaf gives you the opportunity to cut out and bind a copy of this same Miniature Christmas Book for yourself. Ron’s contribution is an excellent full colour piece, reminiscent of the miniature books which appeared in the 1950s and ’60s, but then set letterpress, when there was an unofficial competition among hobby printers as to who could make the smallest legible volume.
Lanston Monotype and the Monotype Corporation in the UK have both demonstrated in the past their skills at microscopic punch cutting by issuing pieces of type, usually a 12 pt em square, bearing the whole of Lord’s Prayer on the printing surface. (John Easson has printed Nebiolo’s Ave Maria on an earlier page.) Bob Richardson enlarges both companies’ images to show the quality which could be obtained. (On balance the Lanston version is of a higher standard but see below.)
Ron Rookes demonstrates his technique of creating miniature books from a single forme printed on one side of a large sheet of paper which is then creatively cut and creased in a spiral fashion to make an intriguing small book. I have seen examples of this method before with his Convention Personalities booklets, being photographs of some of the visitors taken by Ron at various BPS Conventions, and they are excellent. Ron shows the whole modus operandi in full, with the template of the page layout, the sequence of folding and the partial cutting of the sheet to form the inner pages. The cover sheet is a separate exercise, similar but simpler. Ron’s pages are fully illustrated with examples of the sequence of events required to create this miniature volume.
Peter White claims to be no more than an amateur printer’s devil but his reproduction of the above mentioned Lord’s Prayer on a 12 pt em, printed on a surfaced card on an Adana 8 x 5, is a delight to behold. It is very well done indeed, and legible. Interestingly, it is not the same image as the enlargement on Bob Richardson’s earlier leaf, but that was from a 1925 example and Monotype obviously has improved upon its punch-cutting in later years. My only (very minor) criticism of Peter’s page is that the card should have been better stuck to the page; it came loose and may fall out of the book with excessive handling.
The card covers are by Bob Richardson and feature a selection of magnifying glasses and linen testers. The title line on the front cover is in a strange face, possibly hand-drawn, but more likely digitally created for the occasion. The title page, the list of contributors and the binding are by Ron Rookes, and John Holmes provides a Roll of Honour (after the style found in it’s a Small World) to round off the volume.