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.

 

 

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.

Unruly art: pen ruling

In April 2013 the library received a donation from Mr Dave Jeffrey of South London, who has spent his working life mastering some terribly complicated machines for pen ruling. Pen ruling machines were designed to draw – rather than print – continuous inked lines in a range of colours and linear patterns.

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Pen ruling works by having a long bank of static nibs, sometimes just a few millimetres apart, drawing continuous lines on a moving roll of paper. Cogs and eccentric mechanisms also allow nibs to be lifted and lowered automatically to create shorts gaps, breaks and dotted lines, while wavy and more complex lines could also be created with special attachments.

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Dave’s donation (pictured above) includes rolls of brass shim, from which he would have cut the individual nibs used in the ruling process, thick woollen cords, which acted as wicks to carry the ink to each nib, and all the technical paraphernalia required to rule the most complex account books, diaries and legal forms.

The practice of pen ruling is now virtually obsolete, having been largely replaced by lithographic printing. Dave Jeffrey is one of the last of the expert proponents of this challenging and complex printing art and we are delighted to be able to include his working tools in our collection at St Bride.

Printers’ Portraits

We’re lucky enough to possess a large collection of artwork featuring the great and good from print’s history, ranging from perhaps the most famous figures involved with the medium to some fascinating, if obscure, individuals. Among the hundreds of prints in our library, we’ve picked a few noteworthy examples:

Edward Johnston
Johnston was a calligrapher whose most famous work – Johnston or Underground type – featured for several decades on the London Underground. The humanist sans-serif Johnston typeface was used across the network from the mid 1930s until the 1980s, when Eiichi Kono created its successor, New Johnston.

George W Jones
In 1901, Jones became the first printer to produce a three-colour book on these fair shores. Prior to this, he produced the first edition of The British Printer and started publishing The Printing World from 1891. Beyond publishing, he was known for his type designs, including the Granjon, Georgian and Estienne fonts.

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Robert L Leslie
Leslie started his career as a doctor before founding The Composing Room in 1927 with Sol Cantor in New York. The establishment was the first typography firm to install all-purpose-linotype machines in America. He later founded the A-D Gallery, the first space in the city dedicated to showcasing typographic work, and is recognised for playing a significant role in the advancements of the printing and graphic arts industry of the day.

Johannes Gutenberg
This particular image of Gutenberg dates back to 1900. He was the first man to use moveable type printing in Europe circa 1439, starting a printing revolution. He is also credited for developing a process for manufacturing movable type, but he is perhaps most famous for the Gutenberg or 42-line Bible, the first major print undertaking of its time.

Catnach’s Scrapbook

The Catnach Scrapbook is a large album that contains many of the proofs for woodblocks and engravings used by James Catnach in his broadsides circa 1820s.

The broadsides were publications that focused on the more sinister and sensational occurrences of the time. The scandal sheets chronicled murders, violence, funerals, political plots and disasters, illustrated with crude and graphic woodcuts. Many would argue that it was the predecessor to tabloid publications of today, although the publisher never classified it as a newspaper in order to avoid steep taxes.

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Sales of the sheets reached their peak during the 1820s as several scandal and disasters followed each other in quick succession. One notable example from the period featured the conviction of Arthur Thistlewood, who was the last man to be hanged and beheaded in England.

The scrapbook held here at St Bride was presented to the library in 1956 and is significant as an example of the use of stock blocks in a publication.

Holy blunders

Considering the scrupulous labour involved in the art of letterpress, there is little wonder as to why printers occasionally missed the mark. With the Bible having been the first tome put to a printing press, as well as often being cited as the most-printed book in history, there have undoubtedly been errors in the versions produced over the years – and we have one such example in the St Bride archives.

The version of the Bible printed by John Baskett in 1717 is sometimes referred to as the ‘Vinegar Bible’, due to a typing error at the head of Luke 20:9. The parable should have been correctly called the ‘parable of the vineyard’ whereas Baskett’s typo reads as the ‘parable of the vinegar’.

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The vinegar Bible is not the only misprinted Bible we know of – the ‘Printer’s Bible’ from 1612 is another example of a printer’s blunder. Psalm 119:161 depicts David citing printers, rather than Princes, as his persecutors without a cause.

A Barker and Lucas Bible from 1631, meanwhile, contains a seventh commandment decreeing that Christians should commit adultery, as opposed to refraining from it. Whether or not the printers were having a roguish moment is anyone’s guess. We assume they probably weren’t, considering the ‘Thou shalt commit adultery’ commandment cost them £300, which would have been no easy sum to pull together back then. Of all the copies printed, only eleven of them are believed to still be in existence, while most of them were recalled and destroyed.

The work of amateurs

Amateur Printing: A Journal and Specimen Exchange was an amateur printing publication born when hobby printing was at its peak in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The introduction of table-top vertical platen presses such as the ‘Model’ in the mid-1870s opened up the letterpress printing process to almost everyone and, by 1895, these presses were popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

Many of the contributors to the Amateur Printing Journal were vicars and priests. Each page was produced by a different amateur printer, resulting in different typefaces throughout the publication, with the inevitability that some editions had a more professional appearance than others. The first issue (below) was printed in June 1895, and the publication ran for 18 years, until 1913.

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Writer Virginia Woolf was among the amateur print hobbyists of the time, self-publishing a few short stories – including ‘The Mark on the Wall’ and ‘Kew Gardens’ – with a small hand-printing press she owned. She and husband her Leonard later went on to found the Hogarth Press.

While the publication no longer exists, amateur printing using letterpress continues to thrive as a medium, and co-operative publications similar to Amateur Printing still exist today.

The art of propaganda

Louis Raemaekers was a Dutch painter and cartoonist most famous for his WWI cartoons. Regarded as one of the most prolific and popular propaganda illustrators of the First World War period, his work was apparently fuelled by the atrocities he witnessed on the part of the German army.

While Dutch neutrality in the war initially meant that his work was fairly restricted, a Dutch newspaper named Telegraaf eventually provided him with a platform to disseminate his work, allowing him to publish more frequently.

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The image above is entitled ‘From East to West and West to East I Dance with Thee’. It was described by Scottish novelist and historian John Buchan as ‘the most profound symbol of the war’.

This was not the only praise Raemaekers received. In 1917, Theodore Roosevelt reflected that Raemaekers’ cartoons “constitute the most powerful of the honourable contributions made by neutrals to the cause of civilisation in the World War.”

In ‘The shields of Rosselaere’ (pictured below), Raemaekers illustrates German troops using Belgian townsfolk as a shield against Belgian fire, forcing them to march ahead. This particular piece was described as ‘the climax of meanness and selfishness’ by archaeologist William Mitchell Ramsay.

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The extent to which his depictions were factually correct is still a topic of controversy, with many historians believing that some of the events illustrated by Raemaekers never took place.

The curious case of the blood-stained staircase

We’re always unearthing curious artefacts here at St Bride’s and this week is no exception. A mysterious poster by Alfred Leete has left us a little bemused – even Sherlock Holmes might have his work cut out on this one.

Many will be familiar with the artist’s infamous WWI recruitment poster for London Opinion, with Lord Kitchener’s finger-pointing challenge to inspire young men into signing up to fight for their country. The self-taught comic illustrator and artist had his other work appear in various publications, including the Daily Graphic, the Pall Mall Gazette and the Bystander, with his first accepted submission coming at the ripe age of 16!

A piece by Leete held by St Bride Foundation shows a different side to the artist, with a blood-stained staircase in front of a dark green door with eyes peering through the letter box. Elsewhere in the image, a policeman stares in shock, or perhaps horror at the staircase. Adding confusion to possible interpretations is the paint can sitting at the bottom right corner of the door, which begs the question as to whether it is really blood at all. The word Berlud! is printed at the top of the frame, which we believe is an alternative spelling for the word ‘blood’, which would fit with the painting.

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The questions we’ve been asking ourselves about the poster are for whom, why and for what was this poster made? If you have some information that could help us decipher this puzzle, then please put yourself  in touch with us via our Twitter account. St Bride needs you!