Wayzgoose 2016

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Follow the Goose to St Bride Wayzgoose

On Sunday 15.5.16 St Bride Foundation hosted the second Wayzgoose. The hundreds of people who came to enjoy the-print-and-type-lovers’ get-together all left with full bags of goodies, tummies and good vibes.

This year we were fortunate enough to have the  sponsorship of Paper Mule and Commercial Type – their generosity is much appreciated.

What was on offer?

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We had something going on in each part of the Foundation – from the basement bar to the Passmore Edwards café – and in between stalls, exhibitions, and hands-on activities.

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Passmore Edwards’ refreshments stall

For the first time visitors learned about the history of Fleet Street, the delightful Salisbury Room – bedecked with newspaper equipment and ephemera – providing the perfect backdrop to Len Friend’s fascinating insight on the area as an iconic hub of newspaper production.

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History of Fleet Street told in the Salisbury Room

Building on the success of last year, the Bridewell Hall, Farringdon Room and Library reading room, were buzzing with activity. The special ambience of meeting like-minded people with shared interests from all over the country and indeed abroad was summed up in one participant’s comment: “It is one of the few chances a buyer has to actually browse what is on offer, as these products are normally only available to buy online.”

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Justin Knopp

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Browsing up close

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Bridewell Hall – perfect setting for selling and buying

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Richard and Molly Caslon in the Farrington Room

The ever-popular print workshop combined demonstrations with hands-on experience of letterpress printing including the production of a Wayzgoose coaster and a printer’s paper hat.

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Steve Linehan showing how the Wooden Hand Press works

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Zoe Chan making her first Printers’ Hat with Barry Felsted’s guidance in the Workshop

The raffle prizes this year were particularly appealing with a first prize of a one-day Adana print course (White ticket 160), a second prize set of limited edition London Labour and the London Poor prints, proofed from original 19th century wood engravings held here at St Bride (Yellow ticket 177) and the third prize Fleet Street Apocalypse print by Stanley Donwood (Yellow ticket 243). All winners have been contacted and prizes sent.

We are already looking forward to, and preparing for next year’s event.

 

 

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The Fire Next Time

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“Today considerably more that one hundred thousand men who were disabled by the Great War seek employment.” writes “One of Them” at the start of his article “The Problem of the Disabled Man”. The anonymous author’s work appears in the St Bride Students’ Cake, a book “reverently dedicated to the glorious memory of those St Bride students who made the supreme sacrifice in the great European War 1914 – 1918.” *

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This showcase of technique “has for its object the raising of a sufficient sum of money to found a St Bride Students’ Printers’ Pension in commemoration of the students killed in WWI” and was published in May 1921. We have two copies in our Library, a rather tattered paperback example and the other a hardback edition. As it’s title hints, this was an in-house production “printed by the Students, mainly disabled men undergoing a course of training to prepare them to take up work in the printing office”, printed on handmade paper, coated paper, antique text paper, matt art paper, Japan cream paper and chromo paper (the donators of which are all listed).

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“The Students” are almost exclusively men, just one woman is named as a contributor, Miss May Hartung (credited elsewhere in the book as Mary), a lithographer who’s introduction design and Book Plate pages appear right at the start. As such the men of their time have left us a rather vivid snapshot of their class and their age though there is one frustrating and puzzling  omission. Wren’s famous church steeple next door is depicted several times (including on the book’s cover) but there is not a single illustration or description of the Foundation building itself.

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The major event in the book is of course the “Great War” and three articles are eye witness accounts of the conflict from unusual perspectives (none of them of trench combat on the Western Front). The Bolshevik revolution is also mentioned several times and in 1921 with civil war still raging in the former Russian Empire this was very much unfinished business. The major concern however for the men seems to be what now?

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The over riding consensus is to carry on cheerfully for the good of business, country and God (in that order). Many of the writers mention the traumatic transition from a structured “outdoor service life” to that of a hugely competitive labour market and exhort their fellow printers to do their best, reminding them of their patriotic duty to one’s nation (the opening article is even titled “Patriotism”) while providing more practical advice through articles “On Selling Oneself”, “From Army to Print”, “Printers! Help the Disabled Man”, “Science for Printers” and “Apprentice! What Will You Become?” F. C. Davis writes “As we come back to civil life we all feel that years spent in the services are all lost ones.” but concludes “It is business experience we have lost, and now that commerce is getting more scientific every day we must study the science of our craft to be in the front of all nations.” Kipling’s poem “If” is quoted at the end of an article on how best to compose a job application letter and later in the book is reproduced in full.

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This being a student publication some of the articles are full of “in” jokes impossible to fathom now, and many of the writers display a rather Pooterish sense of humour. One of the longest articles is by L.J. Cumner, “Cheddar the Exquisite – Notes of a Cycle Tour”, in which he recalls the pleasures of Chepstow, Gloucester Cathedral and Cheddar “the most exquisite village I have ever set eyes on.” He describes the Mendips as “mountains” and disparages Bath, “a very fine city… But the people in it! Effeminate men, freakish women – the girls are more or less normal! I’m speaking of appearances only.”

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“At Work in the Mines”, by J Fuller (who can be seen in the plate above of St Bride Foundation Printing School Staff, middle row, first left) recalls an often forgotten aspect of that War. He was  captured “at 1 o’clock in the morning of March 24” three days into the German spring offensive of 1918 and was subsequently sent as a forced labourer to the coal mines of Westphalia. “The food here was quite inadequate for men expected to work as hard as the Germans expected the prisoners to do, and had it not been for the timely arrival of emergency parcels from the British Red Cross Committee at Minden, and the parcels from England which began to reach us in July, it is doubtful any of us would have returned” Compelled to toil through 12 hour shifts the “work was of the heaviest character, especially to men who had never engaged in anything more arduous than setting type or working a printing machine.”

The conflict was experienced too in Bride Lane itself, as described by Joseph Stuart in “A War-Time Reminiscence” in which he recalls a three hour air raid by Gotha bombers on London on 28 January 1918. The St Bride Foundation evening class students, he tells us, took shelter in “the basement” of the building (possibly today’s Bar or the Foundry room). Following a nearby hit he mentions this was the bomb which damaged Cleopatra’s Needle but it seems the writer is compressing two different events in his memory as the Needle was struck on a different raid on 4-5 September 1917.

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The Needle on September 5, 1917

The students pass the time with a jolly sing song and the joke about a particularly shattering explosion being caused by “old Gutenberg knocking through an 8-page forme or dropping a case of nonpareil” encapsulates the gist of most of the humour in the book. “If the Hun campaign of frightfulness was launched with the idea of terrifying the British people into submission, it certainly failed so far as Saint Bride students were concerned.” and the whole thing is portrayed as memorable a lark. Sixty-seven people were killed and 166 injured in this particular attack. “Casualties included 14 dead and 14 injured in stampedes when people queuing for admission to shelters were alarmed by maroons (rockets) set off as a warning that a raid was expected: another 11 were injured by shrapnel from antiaircraft fire. Many of the other casualties were caused by a single 300-kg (661-lb) bomb which fell on the Odhams printing works in Long Acre, which was being used as a shelter.” Raymond H Fredette, The Sky on Fire: The First Battle of Britain 1917–1918

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Bombed out Odhams printing works in Long Acre. The iron and brick construction would have been near identical to St Bride Foundation’s

The most remarkable eye witness account is provided by F. C. Davis (quoted earlier) who was present at “Der Tag”, The Day. Known to the British as Operation ZZ, this was the mightiest gathering of warships in a single place on one day in naval history and the St Bride student saw it from a British airship, probably the blimp NS8 which can be spotted in several photographs and illustrations of the event, the internment of the modern German battle fleet off the east coast of Scotland on November 21, 1918.

In “The Day – and After” he writes “We now pick up the Grand Fleet. What a sight! You see nothing but perfect parallel lines of ships like dark dots on a grey surface. We forge in front of the fleet and just before 9 am you discern a few dark dots ahead. Out goes the signal, “Enemy ships sighted,” and you hear from below the bugle call, “Man your guns,” and every man in the fleet “stands to” his gun ready if the enemy should show fight . We now get a close view of the once great German Fleet. What do you see? An endless straggling, ragged line of ships. Look astern! You see regular parallel lines of our navy. What a lesson; you can now realise the difference between the British and German fleets; Britons are born sailors, Germans are only made in a generation.”

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The Pride of the German Fleet’ the battleship ‘Bayern’, the first German ship to carry 15-inch guns, surrenders, never having fired her guns in action (by Oscar Parkes)

Davis goes on with similar sentiments for much of his essay. “Would the British have surrendered their fleet like that? No! A thousand times No! They would have fought to the last man, ** even if they knew that defeat was inevitable. They would have died willingly doing their duty rather than surrender their fleet in such an ignoble manner. They still have the traditions and grit as in the days of Nelson.” Indeed much of the book contains such jingoism including this very surprising line from the first essay, “Patriotism” by T.W. Oswald-Hicks, B.A. “It is the national embodiment of that personal devotion expressed in those few words which have happily been so familiar of late, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

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No room here for the likes of Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon, though the book does end with a poem, What Odds? by A. L. Butler. Of course they couldn’t know that ahead of them was the great Depression, the General Strike and an even more devastating war though Davis strangely evokes this future when, as the sunshine breaks over the German navy  below him he writes “What was this, a sign? A night of darkness passing into a morning of peace – a real peace. One remembered the old allegory; after the flood God sent the rainbow as a message.” Seven months later most of these same German ships were at the bottom of the sea, scuttled by their own crews at Scapa Flow and Mr Davis neglects to complete the last line of “the old allegory” best expressed in the spiritual song – “God sent Noah the rainbow sign/ no more water but fire next time.”

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* A peculiar description for a World War also waged in Africa, the South Atlantic, the Pacific, the Middle East and Dardanelles.

** Here Davis may be consciously echoing Douglas Haig’s “Backs to the wall” order of April 11, 1918, when he stated “Every position must be held to the last man” in an attempt to halt the same offensive in which J Fuller was captured and sent to the coal mines.

Wood Printers

Emerging from the Library collection today were a set of four wood (probably oak) panels depicting workers in the print trades, carved in deep, crisp high relief. Each is approximately 40 x 30 cm in size.

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We have a compositor, a lithographer, a book binder and a printer using a star wheel etching press. Each man’s portrait is framed by a Romanesque arch with paired columns of a different design, each arch is individually decorated and the abutments are adorned with unique pairs of dragons or acanthus sprays . Why we have them, who created them, what they were for and where they come from is however, a mystery.

There are no catalogue notes accompanying them though their arts and craft style, the gentlemen’s fashions and whiskers and exquisite if sober details would suggest a very late Victorian/Edwardian era of origin? Intriguingly, behind the lithographer’s head can be seen a print of a large factory featuring a highly ornate gothic gateway and tall chimney in the forested background, indicating these were probably portraits of actual individuals connected to a specific place rather than generic “types”. The factory is difficult to see with the naked eye, and I only noticed it after it had been photographed.

If any one has any more information about them we would of course love to hear from you. Until then they remain a mystery carved from oak and wrapped in cardboard.

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If you would like to have a peek at them, they will be on display in the Layton Room from 11 January until the end of February 2016 as part of an exhibition of vintage Valentine Cards. Entry is by request from St Bride Foundation’s Reception.

Fleet Street Apocalypse – Stanley Donwood’s Limited Edition Prints.

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As we embark on another year at St Bride Foundation, the team are busy planning an array of events to ensure that 2015 will be an even greater year than the last. Whilst this has been going on, there’s been some activity around our online shop, reminding us of a very exciting project that happened here back in 2008 with Stanley Donwood.

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Stanley Donwood (the pseudonym of artist Dan Rickwood) is perhaps most widely recognised for creating the artwork for Radiohead’s records and posters. This creative partnership officially began in 1994 after Thom Yorke, lead singer and Dan’s friend since they met at The University of Exeter, asked the artist to illustrate the cover for My Iron Lung.

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Among the vinyl record sleeves and posters, Stanley has been behind a number of other creations. One of these, titled London Views, is a series of fourteen prints that depicts famous areas of London being taken over by smoke and fire. In 2008, Stanley came to St Bride Foundation to create large, limited edition prints of the very landmark where we are located, Fleet Street.

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Printing was seen by Stanley as an opportunity to create large scale works and consequently deliver a greater impact. The vision is also entwined with a personal goal of St Bride Foundation, which is to preserve the printing heritage of Fleet Street.

The print was made from two sections of linoleum, each made to fit our Albion Press. The individual halves were then printed seperately. Aligning the two halves was achieved by creating pinholes in the first printed sheet and then using these holes as a guideline for the second part. A benefit from this technique is that each print is unique with a single one being ever so slightly different to the other.

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There are still a few of these limited edition prints left on our online shop here. We hope to have many more projects such as this in the future.

Taking the Pledge

Among the items in the collection at St Bride is a plump album of specimens from the firm of Walker, Evans and Company of Charleston, South Carolina. Although not technically a guard book, it contains a broad selection of examples of material being printed in the southern states of the USA circa 1860. The album was purchased by the library in February 1917, with the aid of a grant from the Institute of Printers.

Printers traditionally kept a ‘guard book’: an album which contained examples of the jobs they produced. This record was retained partly for legal reasons, but also as an aid to the printer when customers requested repeat orders.

Amongst the examples of calendars, receipts, and invitations are more quirky items, such as a blank form for those ‘taking the Pledge’ – a promise to abstain from alcohol. This practice originated with an Irish Catholic reformer, Theobald Mathew, who was fêted in the United States for his stance on total abstinence from ‘the demon drink’. Walker, Evans and Co., along with many other printers, produced a version of ‘the Pledge’ to be signed by those who wished to reform their alcoholic ways, or simply wanted to secure employment in an industry where alcohol dependency could cause major problems, such as the merchant navy.

The example owned by St Bride is for the Marine Washingtonian Total Abstinence Society.

 

St Bride Foundation Open House: Bride Lane, Fleet Street

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Autumn is a big season for us here at St Bride. We have many events including our print workshops, evening theatre shows you do not want to miss, and of course, the venue is always available for hire – so you can host your own event here and revel in the history of print that’s woven into the fabric of the Foundation. It all kicks off with the Open House this weekend.

If you’ve had a long and burning desire to take a tour, and witness what we’re always babbling about excitedly, the perfect chance to do so is here. Join us on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st of September for the opportunity to roam our corridors and have a glimpse into the past by immersing yourself in the history of print, publishing, design and, of course, Fleet Street itself. You’ll have access to the library, theatre and the bar, as well as other selected rooms – so come and see it all for yourself.

A morning bulletin for apprentices

Back in the days when printing apprenticeships abounded, apprentice printers would be treated to an apprenticeship bulletin once a month. This was a book for trainees in the field, and included all the essentials: parish news, typefaces, a gossip column and a pull-out card supplement, with some bizarre captions on them.

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We’re quite fond of some of the card pull-outs from the bulletins so, with the help of Konica Minolta, we designed and printed a set of eight postcards which can be purchased from our shop for 50p each!

 

Guess who’s back?

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After a slight logistical hitch, lunchbox theatre at the Bridewell is back with a strong programme for 2014.

First up, on the 25th March, will be the Faction Theatre Company performing ‘Shakespeare’s Lovers’, a selection of Love scenes taken from the plays and sonnets of the bard himself. It will run from 1pm each day from Tuesday to Friday until 11th April.

From first kiss to dying breath, our intrepid couple demonstrate what to do if a lover yells your name off a balcony, gets drugged in a forest, starts wearing her brother’s clothes, or kills his boss.

If all this wasn’t persuasive enough, this is what Time Out London said of The Faction’s last show, Canterbury Tales: “The audience is soon lapping up the fast-paced, witty performances […] What better way to spend your lunch break?”

Prepare your sarnies, book your tickets and we shall see you at 1pm on the 25th March!

Pressed in Stone

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As an enthusiastic Taphophile I’ve seen a few printers graves over the years but never one as emblematic of the trade as the stone adorning the Basilio Tedioli family tomb in Mantova, Italy.

The 20th century piece of low relief Art Deco sculpture was carved in bianco di Carrara by Carlo Cerati (1865 – 1948), the small northern city’s most prolific artist of quality monuments and contains many features typical of Italian memorial work of the period. Traditional Roman Catholic iconography has been relegated to the barely noticeable cruciform frame, instead the corporeal form of exaggerated muscular Labour takes centre stage, celebrated and identified by his apron and press as a printer.

The otherwise nude figure with his contemporary hairstyle was probably a portrait of Basilio Tedioli himself. Although dated 1937, the labourer is no simplistic Fascist strongman; Cerati was more influenced by Rodin than Mussolini as a look at his masterpiece in the same cemetery demonstrates, the 1914 monument group commemorating Oreste Columbo with it’s extraordinary stairway to heaven and anguished allegorical figure of “Desperation”.

I photographed the Tedioli grave last Wednesday in Tea Spa Cimetero Borgo Angeli on a foggy day as part of an ongoing series of pictures, some of which I hope to exhibit next year in the Bridewell Theatre Bar. I recently released a book on the subject, “Monumentale” which can be previewed here.

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(This piece was contributed by John Rankin, front of house supervisor for the Bridewell Theatre.)

What does 2014 look like?

We know the first couple of months of the year can drag; luckily, St Bride likes to start the New Year with a bang, so there’s plenty to keep you entertained as we enter 2014.

Two events take place in the library during January. On the 22nd Ewan Clayton, the author of The Golden Thread, will host an evening of entertainment with The Story of Writing. The night will look at questions such as whether or not writing still matters, how can we share information efficiently how can we protect our privacy and, most importantly, what is a library?

Two days after this, on the 24th, The Design of Understanding will be on the agendas of all here at St Bride Foundation. A one-day conference, curated by Max Gadney, will seek to educate on how ideas are designed to be more understandable. For the £95.00 ticket price, you will be able to listen to insight from speakers from across various industries, such as government, comics, toy makers and magazines.

The theatre will also be hosting a modern take on a classic from the 22nd to the 25th January with Cinders: The True Story, which will be here, complete with all your favourite characters, special effects and some wonderful slapstick humour.

Our events and performances are running – as usual – alongside the rest of our busy schedule at St Bride Foundation. We hope to see you in the New Year!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up with the day-to-day goings on here at the foundation.