W H I T T I N G T O N P R E S S
O P E N D A Y 2 0 1 4
The Press’ next Open Day will be on Saturday 6th September 2014, 2 p.m. onwards. As usual it will coincide with the annual Whittington Summer Show, with all its many attractions. Whittington Court will be open to the public, and the Press will be showing off its latest work, with displays of printing and typecasting. Outside there will be usual array of printers, binders, marblers, wood-engravers and paper-makers, showing off the myriad skills that go into the production of a properly produced book. Whittington is 40 miles west of Oxford, 5 miles east of Cheltenham, just off the A40.
Please click here to view the 2011 open day, colour photos by Sarah Dixon/Spider Shooter, black-and-whites by Karel Prokes of Avant Garde Letterpress in Prague.
THE PRESS has a varied list, which can be best described as belles lettres, and includes books with and about wood-engravings, bibliographies of other presses (DAVID BUTCHER’S The Stanbrook Abbey Press, 1956-1990 was described as ‘a model of how these things should be done’), type specimens, diaries, pochoir (stencil) illustration, and much else besides. The one factor they all have in common is illustration, nearly always printed from the original block, plate or stencil (‘things, not pictures of things’, as ERIC GILL said).
The Press holds an annual open day at Whittington (40 miles west of Oxford) on the afternoon of the first Saturday of each September, which all our friends and subscribers are warmly invited to attend. Several other printers, booksellers, engravers, marblers and others also exhibit their wares. It is also the Whittington village summer show, and the historic Whittington Court (whose gardener’s cottage has been home to the Press since its inception) is open to the public. Hélène Guillaume made a short video of the event in 1995. The Press has printed a poster for the village show each year since 1974, and the 2009 poster had a pochoir illustration by Miriam Macgregor.
Patrick and Francis Randle and Tom Mayo are occasional helpers; and our ever-vigilant proof-readers are Anthea Steel and Jenny Stringer. All the printing is done at Whittington, and the running of the business at our home at Risbury in Herefordshire. Few of the Press’s books have remained in print for any length of time, and, making a virtue out of necessity, they have nearly all been issued in limited editions of between twenty and a thousand copies, the average probably being around 300 copies. Prices range from £17.50 upwards. The titles that are still available are described here, and our forthcoming titles are described here. Many out-of-print titles can be found on abebooks.com and similar websites, some are illustrated here.
Another important element of our work is posters. They are done for no particular purpose except as relaxation from the discipline of bookwork, and usually to celebrate some event or publication, and often as an excuse to use the larger sizes of our types, particularly Caslon. Sold for a pound or two on our open days, many have become collectors’ items, particularly since the publication of our elephant-sized A BOOK OF POSTERS in 1996. Posters are the only printing the Press does apart from its books.
An account of the origins of the Whittington Press can be found in an interview by John Neilson with John Randle in Forum, the journal of the Letter Exchange, March 2008.
John Randle at Gregynog, April 2011, photo by Barbara Henry.
This website has been designed and constructed by Patrick Lawson-Thomas, himself a skilled letterpress printer who helped us with the printing of the colour blocks in john o’connor’s The English Scene (2004). Patrick is now learning to operate the Monotype casters and, with the help of Neil Winter who for a decade ran the casters for the Libanus Press in Marlborough, plans in due course to offer founts and setting to other printers.