Page 8 - January 2017
P. 8

|  Cafes, Crescents and Caslon |                      |  Ian Knight (10750)  |


        – an afternoon at the Small Wood Press
             n a cool, crisp October Sunday,     The small press room refl ected
             a small group of BPS members    Simon’s infectious enthusiasm for
       Omet for lunch in the intimate        printing, something he has actively
       surroundings of the Green Bird Café   practiced for the last fi fteen years.
       near the Royal Crescent in the Georgian   Simon fi rst came into contact with
       city of Bath. Our host for the afternoon   letterpress printing whilst a student at
       was Simon Smallwood, Master of Wine,   Marlborough College, and this was to
       classic car enthusiast, wood-turner and   start an interest in printing and a love of
                                                             Caslon type, not just
                                                             for him but also for
                                                             fellow Marlborough
                                                             student John Randle
                                                             who went on to
                                                             establish the famous
                                                             Whittington Press
                                                             in 1972. It was a
                                                             chance fi nd of a
                                                             small table-top Albion
                                                             press at a local Bath
                                                             auction house that
                                                             was responsible
                                                             for re-igniting
                                                             Simon’s passion
                                                             for letterpress. As
                                                             the hammer fell on
                                                             the little Albion at
                                                             a mere £43, it must
                                                             have felt like a divine
                                                             intervention, helped
                                                             along by the fact that
                     Simon’s Albion and Model Platens
                                                             no-one else in the
       proprietor of the Small Wood Press.   room knew what this lot actually was! It
         After introductions and lunch it was   was not long before the press was sold
       a very short stroll around the corner to   on (for a lot more than £43, I’m sure)
       Simon’s house and press. Navigating the   and replaced with a larger fl oor-standing
       staircase into the cellar and the home of   Albion press, Model 1 and Model 3
       the Small Wood Press, we were met with   desktop platens and a Farley galley press.
       a cosy but very well equipped press room     Like many other printers, Simon has
       with an impressive variety of presses,   built up his current collection through
       and a staggering stock of type, including   acquisitions from retiring professional
       some Greek, and beautiful plates all   printers and online auction bids. After
       neatly catalogued in a wide variety of   giving a quick introduction to the press,
       cabinets lining each of the four walls.  Simon proceeded to demonstrate
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