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Small Printing 2011 - Display

Small Printing 2011

Review of “Small Printing 2011” by Fred Eagles

The theme of the 2011 edition of the Publishing Group’s co-operative annual is ‘Display’. The book is A5 landscape, wire-o bound, with light card covers. It is a quite substantial booklet with contributions from a dozen printers, half of whom have contributed more than one page.

The buff cover is beautifully printed with seven decorated faces, all hot metal, several of which are new to me. These come from the collection of Bob Richardson who also printed the first title page in Gill Floriated and Plantin Bold. The main title page is from Chris Wilson in several sizes of Stephenson Blake’s Chisel plus a line in Perpetua.

The list of contributors page is by Ron Rookes in what appears to be a quite attractive digital font. He also uses the same Monotype border unit as Chris Wilson, both in green. Alan Brignull leads the alphabetic order of binding with two excellent and elaborate ornaments, the width of the page, both from the early years of the twentieth century. These are printed in light green accompanied by a neat explanatory paragraph in Plantin.

Peter Criddle reprints, in full colour, a pastiche of a billsticker’s nightmare, a street wall completely covered with a multitude of posters. There are also two sandwich board men walking along the pavement to the fore but no one seems to be taking much interest in the colourful display above their heads as they fight their way along the foreground.

Small Printing 2011

John Easson sets his headline in 12pt Falstaff, a fat face which looks larger than its body size for it is so bold. He goes on to recount how a Dundee printer who refused to use it in a magazine designed by John in the 1960s, and the publication then of “Printing for Pleasure” by John Ryder, led to his setting up his own press to use his collection of fonts as he wished.

The following page from John Holmes uses two bold yet attractive wood letter faces (from Delittle?) but manages to print the line of explanation below perfectly in what looks like Fairbanks Italic; such a contrast. His second leaf is a copy of an extract from a William Caslon specimen sheet but here set in Perpetua Italic and Baskerville.

Owen Legg uses a face rarely seen outside the pages of “It’s a Small World”. In 2010 John Smith used it for his page there and referred to it as Burlington Old Style from the Pillar foundry in London. A year later in IaSW 2011 Rick von Holdt used the same face but declared his was Bulfinch [sic] Oldstyle from American Type Founders. [This was probably an example of Pillar making electroplated copies of fonts from ATF.] Owen’s paragraph is accompanied by a linocut of the courtship display of the great crested grebe.

Tom Marshall debates the difference between display faces, once upon a time the larger hot metal faces above 14pt, but with the present use of the term as meaning decorative faces, especially with regard to those used on shop front fascias, etc. He illustrates his three pages with a shop front which uses the Broadway face, in all its glory, to catch the eye, and a selection of colourful posters in the same or similar faces. A pun on ‘dis play…’ accompanies an illustration of Shakespeare by John Miller but his second leaf has the usual ‘quick brown fox... ’ line in a duplex digital font gleaned from the Internet.

Ron Prosser must own shares in an inkjet cartridge supply company for his five pages are all digitally generated, but to very good effect. His beautifully selected illustrations include the masthead from an 1894 edition of (The) Printing World, a ticket to a ball at the Albert Hall from 1892, and a ticket to a smoking concert in his home town of Newport, also from 1892. Now if only he had all those fonts in metal… I leave you to browse through the other examples for yourself.

Small Printing 2011

A crinkle-cut edged photo is a novelty nowadays. Bob Richardson mounts such a glossy photo atop his page to illustrate the 1935 shop front of the Brilliant Sign Company in London after they had been awarded a large contract to produce some 50,000 signs (apparently enamel on metal) from the Bristol cigarette manufacturers W & HO Wills. The sign company invested in commercial properties in London and, in the 1950s, was landlord to Messrs Adana!

We have seen above that Ron Rookes uses digital methods to print his fonts. His own page features the results of using software to set ‘wood types’ on an Apple iPad. I have no doubt that we will see much more of this in the future as real wood types disappear into the antique shops but their representations reappear in the digital font catalogues. His second leaf will appeal to many of our younger readers for he shows three furry ‘apprentices’ (reminiscent of the Teddy Roosevelt tale) reading the previous edition of “Small Printing”.

Peter White, a paid-up member of the Slow Printing Society, advertises for a proof reader or spell-checker on his Dislpay page featuring a twelve-line wood letter in Gloucester or Cheltenham. Chris Wilson's leaf has a line of 60pt Futura Display (!), a magnificent design from Paul Renner and the German Bauer foundry, with its companion Futura Black from the same source. These are real hot metal faces, not digital copies; his page also features other excellent faces from the Monotype collection.

The final page in this volume is a welcome lift from “It’s a Small World”, a Roll of Honour listing the range of contributors to the various editions of “Small Printing” from 1967 to 2010 who have participated more than 10 times. It is printed here by John Holmes of New Zealand. Whilst we are aware of those who have contributed to recent editions those who have helped ensure the continuity of this excellent co-operative booklet over the years should not be forgotten.

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Small printing 2011