Page 14 - Februaryt 2014
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Nick Smith (7951)

    udor Printing

SOME members may have seen a series of            would be seen in close-up, the three other

programmes on BBC2 enƟtled 'Tudor Monastery pages in the quarto forme were from a text

Farm'. This was an aƩempt to show rural life set by a prinƟng class which was waiƟng to be

in the period before Henry VIII's dissoluƟon of dissed. All this was done in advance. On the day

the monasteries, when a large part of the land the film crew spent a lot of Ɵme disguising and/

in England was owned by the Church. The fiŌh or hiding the rest of the print room, which looks

programme in the series included a prinƟng anything but Tudor. The filming covered the

scene in which I was involved.                    prinƟng process (using replica ink-balls), as well

The story-line was that a group of tenant         as typeseƫng. The laƩer was the hardest part

farmers wished to honour their patron             for me—I always wear glasses, indeed I can't

by presenƟng a book to him. Somewhat              read without them, but as I was in costume

improbably this was to be a printed book. The they were forbidden – so I was picking up type
scenes included a brief account of paper-making more or less blindly. Fortunately the final result
using a hand mould, followed by prinƟng, and looks fine, and it's hardly possible to see that
                                                  the type in the sƟck is gibberish.
completed with a short account of binding.

Cambridge University Library (where I work

as a volunteer) possesses a replica wooden

prinƟng press which has featured in several

TV programmes, a video for the Victoria &

Albert Museum and a film about James I/VI.

InsƟtuƟons which possess genuine wooden

presses are understandably reluctant to

actually use them, which is why replica presses

are popular for filming. Our press is actually a

copy of a very late press, as described in Caleb

Stower's Printer's Grammar of 1808. This was

chosen by the late Philip Gaskell because it

gives illustraƟons of almost all the parts, and

dimensions of most of them. And because the

design of the wooden press seems to have

remained almost unchanged since the 16th

century, our press can stand in for any press

over three centuries.

I was asked to set a Tudor text - in verse,
fortunately—for which I used Morris's pica
Chaucer type, which he had based on 15th
century originals. At the top I put a vaguely
contemporary illustraƟon. As only this page

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