Page 5 - October 2015
P. 5


dream of riches. Although there is              ink, as stated in Saunders & Chiplis), but as
overlap in content between them,                these books do not set out to be histories
Saunders & Chiplis describe the start           of leƩerpress that is excusable. Saunders &
of this journey, and Brown the later            Chiplis are also a liƩle shaky on typographical
stages. As there is so liƩle printed            units of measurement; for example, 'there are
informaƟon available about current              approximately 12 picas per inch, and 12 points
leƩerpress pracƟce, both books are              per pica'—only one of these is correct!
Ɵmely and should be important.
                                                    However, on reading the leƩerpress
   First, let me be clear that both             prinƟng guidance in both books (and in
books refer to leƩerpress prinƟng in            parƟcular Brown) I felt as if I had stepped into
USA, and USA only; the rest of the              some parallel prinƟng universe, one where
world hardly gets a look in (Saunders &         wood furniture was the norm (occasional
Chiplis are even more parochial; they           'metal' furniture might be found), thick
are pracƟƟoners at the Art InsƟtute             spaces between words was standard, and
of Chicago's LeƩerpress Studio, and             Wickersham and Hempel quoins were
write mainly about operaƟons there,             'modern'. A liƩle further reading revealed
straying someƟmes into Chicago, but             why: both books seem to have based these
that's about it). Thus, expect to hear          secƟons on early 20th century US leƩerpress
about Chandler & Price, ATF, the                commercial shop guides, so none of the
Californian case, incomprehensible              advances made during the later 20th century
American paper sizes and weights,               (at least this side of the pond)—high-speed
American suppliers; but nothing about           quoins; resalite and alloy furniture; Swiss
Stephenson Blake, double cases, Gill, Morison,  packing; and the influences of Gill, Ryder, the
Ryder, Adana, Arabs etc.                        brothers Simon et al. on typography—have
                                                been registered at all!
   Both books start with some basic
informaƟon about leƩerpress prinƟng. Brown
is more successful here and gives useful
informaƟon about finding and restoring
your press (a Chandler & Price platen in this
case), how to equip your print shop, and the
rudiments of typeseƫng, paper selecƟon
and prinƟng. If someone had gained some
leƩerpress experience from a course, they
should find this informaƟon a useful reminder.
Saunders & Chiplis give fewer details, mainly
describing what students are taught in their
studio; this might be useful background
reading for someone about to go on a
course, but would be insufficient to teach
someone from scratch or as a 'handbook for
instructors', as in the subƟtle. Both books
are almost enƟrely ahistorical, dealing with
the here and now only; the liƩle history they
contain is someƟmes confused or wrong (e.g.
I do not think William Morris make his own
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