Collections and Collaborations

Collections and Collaborations: The Process Behind the Posters

By Becky Chilcott

In November 2018, I approached fourteen artists, designers, writers, illustrators and musicians to ask if they would collaborate in pairs to create a poster designed to celebrate the St Bride Library and highlight the rich and varied collections it holds. This would culminate in an event to be held in the spring to help raise funds for the Library and commemorate the completion of their work.

Luckily, the following creatives said yes to the challenge:

  • Anil Aykan
  • Jonathan Barnbrook
  • Paul Barnes
  • Mick Clayton
  • Catherine Dixon
  • Tom Etherington
  • Tom Gauld
  • Alistair Hall
  • Keith Houston
  • David Pearson
  • Bob Richardson
  • Pam Smy
  • Ness Wood
  • John L. Walters

We paired them up ourselves but most were obvious choices as they had worked together before (or do so on a regular basis), but some were completely new and we hoped that the outcome would be fruitful . . .

The brief was very simple and open: 

To create an A2 poster inspired by the rich collections that St Bride holds, the building itself or something related to its heritage.

All participants were offered a tour of the Foundation, Print Workshop, Library and its collections if needed; kindly led by either Mick Clayton or Bob Richardson who volunteer regularly at St Bride and are indeed some of the brightest and best treasures St Bride is lucky to have.

Boss Print and Fenner Paper very kindly agreed to sponsor the event – for which we cannot thank them enough for their generosity and enthusiasm for the project.

Fenton Smith and Justin Hobson’s knowledge and advice were absolutely crucial to the whole process – they were central to all the collaborations too – as they suggested printing techniques and paper that would lend itself best to each individual poster.

 We set the deadline of the 1st April 2019 for the artwork and then waited with excited anticipation for the results to come through.

Here you can see the final results and a few words from each pair of collaborators about the process behind their poster.

We cannot express our gratitude enough for the time, effort, passion and energy everyone has given so freely to this project. We hope you appreciate and love them all as much as we do!

They have been printed in limited editions of 80 and cost £15 each (plus postage and packaging) and are available to buy via our online shop.

Please note that he letterpress poster created by Catherine Dixon and Mick Clayton is £30 (plus postage and packaging).

Anil Aykan & Jonathan Barnbrook (Fragile Self)

Printed on Omnia White 150gsm

St Bride has always been a big presence in our lives. It is one of the few places that has reliably documented the amazing diversity and creativity in British typography in a world where it is not that well understood or acknowledged. Importantly it is also a place that shows the social context of it all. You can’t separate the two in real life, and that context is one of the things that make St Bride so fascinating, so our project was very much about this. We took something that was very much about ‘popular British typography’ and put it in a modern context. 

This project is different from the normal ones from our studio ‘Barnbrook’. Instead it is from the collaboration ‘Fragile Self’ between us – Anil Aykan and Jonathan Barnbrook, we are both members of our studio but we work under this name making music. So for this project we wanted to do something that had music as the core, but acknowledged the link with typography. We looked through the archives and chose a ‘broadside’ sheet from the 19th Century. These were cheap one-sided sheets and often had a salacious story, gossip or a song sung in the music halls of the time. We chose one of them with a song that we felt had the right melancholic flavour for us and reinterpreted the typography of the broadside in a modern context. It is a very mournful piece about a woman and her lover and what finally happened to him. To further acknowledge that this is a modern interpretation there is a unique download code integrated into each poster, and we chose a new Fragile Self image of Anil, which we thought explained the state of mind very well. We recorded a new version of the song without knowing or wanting to know what the original sounded like, translating the lyrics into modern English and adding melody. We are an electronic band, so the result of both is very modern but with hopefully a similar atmosphere of the original.

St Bride is an amazing resource. Many designers nowadays research by just using the internet, however going to the library, looking at specific pieces of work, by chance coming across another piece of print, absorbing the atmosphere of the building, talking to the people there, it will take you down a totally different and maybe more creative path. The world needs designers who don’t produce work using the same methods, also you need to have understanding of your own sense of place and your own sense of history to be something unique and for those working or studying in the UK, St Bride should be a big part of that.

Paul Barnes & David Pearson

Printed on Colorset 120gsm (various colours)

This was written by David Pearson to be read out at the event on the 14 May as he couldn’t attend:

I am sorry that I cannot be with you tonight. I am aware of how it must look that an evening celebrating close collaboration includes neither of the people responsible for this project.

This is my fault: partly for producing a poster that Paul really does not like and partly because my girlfriend bought me a trip to Japan for my 40th birthday (I am writing this from Kyoto with a glass of sake in my hand so apologies if my words seem only partially considered!).

Now to give Paul his dues, this is not an attractive use of his type, nor is it a desirable poster (sorry St Bride’s!) but it is from the heart, so please excuse the indulgence.

Warning. I’m not very good at analogies but this certainly doesn’t stop me from using them.

I was one of those young, boy graphic designers who decided that one solution – Helvetica – should be the solution for everything. This was because I was scared of a broader horizon that involved choices, and I constantly hid behind Swiss design as a steady, if unspectacular choice for every scenario.

Two amazing teachers then stepped into my life (Phil Baines and Catherine Dixon) and invited me to consider a different way. What if letters had personalities? what if letters could wear different hats based on the scenarios they found themselves in? You wouldn’t dress the same way for a wedding and a jog round the park after all. So why would you force the same letters to suit every circumstance?

Catherine took our class on a visit to St Bride Library and I was never the same again. Don’t get me wrong, I still subscribe to the Simon Cowell school of fashion: 18 pairs of the same jeans and t-shirt, thrown thoughtlessly together each day, but I now at least know what a mohair shirt and wing-tipped shoes are. And sometimes, they are the exact right choice.

The type itself comes from the recently-released Commercial Classics range, and I would urge you all to look up this amazing work (see the link below). Look too for the original punches, matrices and metal type that inspired it, all of which can be found in this very building.

I accept my fate for this very personal and very indulgent response – and promise to buy up the posters myself. Looking at the design, they shouldn’t cost very much.

Mick Clayton & Catherine Dixon

Printed on Shiro Echo, White 160gsm

I [Catherine Dixon] really wanted to focus on the location of St Bride and in particular its proximity to Fleet Street and the support that the St Bride Institute offered when first established to the printing trade that had once flourished in that part of the city. The collaborative partnership with Mick Clayton, a retired Journeyman/Compositor, who now volunteers in the Print Workshop offered an opportunity to tap into that trade background and into the practical knowledge of print that is represented within St Bride. I was fascinated by some trade printing terms I had come across in doing some preliminary research for the poster, which I sent over to Mick late one night to see if there were any others that might offer some clues as to possible design directions. The next morning a page-long list of extraordinary terms arrived back from Mick and so emerged an idea to celebrate St Bride as the last resting place of this amazing but lost language of trade compositing and printing. 

The poster was hand typeset using wood display types and Gill Condensed Bold (18pt) and printed in the Print Workshop at St Bride with the help of Steve Linehan, Barry Felstead and Andrew Long. 

The poster set out to celebrate the skilled craftsmanship of the printing trades of Fleet Street and the print workshop space at St Bride. The good will it required to execute exemplifies something else quite remarkable about St Bride, its sense of community. And as with the best collaborations, so much has been learned and the respect and affection held in the partnership has deepened. What a privilege to be invited to participate in this project! Thank you. 

Tom Etherington & Keith Houston

Printed on Gardapat 13, Klassica 115gsm

Keith: I think it’s fair to say that we were bowled over by the collection’s standout items. Caxton’s Chaucer and the Kelmscott Press’s much later edition, for example, stuck with us both. As such, we had planned to replicate some of the typographic techniques used in these and other works in our poster – double hyphens; carefree approaches to hyphenation and spelling; letter spaced C A P I T A L S; over-enthusiastic italics – but the end result was a little too busy. Typographic fashions are just as rooted in their respective eras as clothing fashions are today, and as we tried to combine those eras we veered a little too close to pastiche rather than tribute.

Aside the most eye-catching items (Gill’s design sketches; Caxton’s Chaucer; Pouché’s wood type), what struck us as we continued to look around was how well the collection conveyed all the individual stages of the printing process: it was fascinating to see how type designers, punch cutters, typographers and printers navigate a craft that reverses itself over and over with each successive phase. Designs, punches, smoke proofs, matrices, sorts, stereotypes, presses and specimen books – each of the artefacts of the printing process is either mirrored or not, and from there we took the idea of pulling them together into a single poster. 

Tom: After deciding to focus on the different stages of the printing process, we thought about ways of visualising this as a poster. As a designer ‘show-through’ can often be your enemy when making printed matter. It happens a lot on the text pages of books when there are dense printed areas on thin paper stocks. I thought perhaps show-through could be a fun way to illustrate the reverse sections of the printing process for this poster. 

So Keith wrote a passage of text explaining the different stages of printing, and I created a simple typographic poster with the text. The stages that involve reversed lettering are printed in reverse on the back of the poster, and then for the stages of printing where the lettering is the correct way round are printed on the front of the poster. They then align up and read as a complete paragraph when the reverse shows through to the front.

It was a bit of luck that when we suggested this idea to Fenner Paper they sent through a sample of a new paper they have which is actually made to allow for show-through.

Choosing a typeface for the poster felt a bit daunting, it had to have a proper connection to St Bride. Paul Barnes of Commercial Type has recently started a new venture relaunching historical typefaces, and St Bride was a big influence on his work and research. He kindly let me used Caslon Doric and Throrowgood for the poster, both of which felt perfectly in line with the idea of the poster.

Tom Gauld & John L. Walters

Printed on Sixties, 60gsm

Mick Clayton gave Tom Gauld and John L. Walters an extensive tour of the labyrinthine St Bride building, including nooks and crannies they had never seen before. John scribbled down his impressions of the institution, and Tom put some of these words into image panels in a comic book format. ‘I didn’t want to focus on one item from the collection, but to try and capture the feeling of the eccentric building stuffed with fascinating artefacts,’ said Tom.

Alistair Hall & Bob Richardson

Printed on Creative Print, Champagne 170gsm

I visited the Library together with Jonathan Barnbrook and Anil Aykan; and Bob Richardson had been good enough to put a list together of the most notable bits from the Library’s collection. Obviously a treasure trove of incredible stuff. And Bob’s knowledge is simply encyclopaedic.

During the visit, I spotted a long and thin little booklet lying slightly to one side – the Specimens of Wood Letter book from R. D. DeLittle.

DeLittle was the largest and most innovative British designers and manufacturers of woodblock typefaces. Set up in 1888 by Robert Duncan in York, it produced a huge range of display typefaces in wood, mainly for posters and theatre bills.

The booklet featured some of DeLittle’s incredible elongated sans serif typefaces.

Then in the reading room I saw another DeLittle specimen book, put to one side for Andrew Long, and it had some more glorious examples of their elongated faces.

[These came in numbered versions, including Nos. 40, 41, 43, 53, 58, 196, 315, 316, 318, 321, 322, 323, and were shown in various line heights including 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 30, 40, 50. Dating is a little tricky, but some of the types certainly date back to the 1890s – no. 53 is from 1892, 58 from 1893.]

Mainly I just wanted to steal unashamedly from the DeLittle specimens, while creating something people might want to put up on their walls.

Fortunately, while researching DeLittle, I came across Colophon Foundry’s recently released Coign type family (https://www.colophon-foundry.org/typefaces/coign/), which was inspired by DeLittle’s elongated sans faces, as seen during visits to St Bride Library. That meant that I could create a poster that not only showcased a physical thing from the library, but also the more abstract essence of the library as a place of research, inspiration and scholarship. Brilliant!

Coign is an extensive family, with 28 styles featuring 4 widths in seven weights. It’s a real stunner. Wonderfully, Anthony at Colophon was kind enough to lend me Coign for free, so that I could produce the poster.

I wrote some words that captured what the library meant to me, and used Coign to set those, and then Caslon for the smaller text. It’s a consciously digital design – using the tools of today, but inspired by the tools of the past. It was printed onto an off white stock, 170gsm Creative Print Champagne, kindly supplied by Fenner Paper.

You can read more about Coign here (https://medium.com/@Colophon/coign-the-most-condensed-font-ever-probably-c3d56086a1bd), and buy the type family here (https://www.colophon-foundry.org/typefaces/coign/).

I believe the full DeLittle archives are now held at the Type Archive in Stockwell (www.typearchive.org), after DeLittle finally ceased trading in 1998, over a hundred years after they started.

www.wemadethis.co.uk

Pam Smy & Ness Wood

Printed on Pergraphica Smooth, Natural 120gsm

Before visiting the archive at St Bride, illustrator, Pam Smy, and designer, Ness Wood, hadn’t discussed what they wanted to research, other than to agree that they both wanted to focus on doing something about women in print. Both were blown away by the richness of books, wood letters, printed materials and connected ephemera that were tucked away in boxes and files in the archive. It was full of visual treasure and there was plenty to inspire their different and particular enthusiasms.

In searching through the sliding shelves they came across the name Beatrice Warde. In the late 1920’s Warde had used the male pseudonym, Paul Beaujon, to publish her article on the typeface Garamond, an act which revealed just how male-dominated the industry was. Based on this article, Paul Beaujon was offered a job editing the Monotype Recorder in London. ‘Paul’ accepted, and Beatrice Warde arrived in London to begin her long career as writer and marketing manager for the British Monotype Corporation.  Pam and Ness knew this was the woman that they wanted to focus on for their poster.

During their research they discovered connections between Beatrice and themselves. Warde’s mother, Mary Lamberton Becker, had written about children’s books in Books as Windows, 1929, and Pam and Ness work together in children’s publishing.

Warde had corresponded with furniture designer Richard (Dick) Russell (he and his brother Gordon exhibited at the Britain Can Make it Exhibition, 1948) and Ness studied History of Design focusing on this period at the University of Brighton and Dick’s archive is now at their Design Archives. Beatrice also had contact with T. S. Eliot at Faber & Faber, where Ness designed the Eliot Macavity picture book series amongst others for this publishing house.

Pam was excited to discover original black and white illustrations for Presenting Miss Jane Austen in 1952, which was worked on by Warde and Becker to celebrate the opening of Jane Austen’s house in Hampshire. As Pam’s illustration is inspired by the classic fiction and the pen and ink work of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s this was another link to the collection.

In the archive on Warde, Pam and Ness found inspiration for the colours they used, the decorative design from that era, the portrait of Beatrice and the statement of ‘This is a Printing Office’. The resulting poster is a blend of these elements.

The final touch was a stamp on each poster, inspired by the many library stamps found throughout the St. Bride’s Library and Archive. Each one adds it’s own slight individual imperfections to each of the posters.

A FOOTNOTE: A memorial service was fittingly held for Beatrice at the Church of St Brides on 17th October, 1969. Today there is the TDC Beatrice Warde Scholarship, sponsored by The Type Directors Club and Monotype who offer a scholarship under her name for young women who demonstrate exceptional talent, sophistication, and skill in the use of typography.

We couldn’t have done this without the kind and generous spirit of our sponsors and would like to thank:

Fenner Paper & Boss Print www.fennerpaper.co.uk www.bossprint.com

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Wood Engraving (Relief Printing) Tutorial Evening

Or A Rose by Any other Name (or technique) will smell the same!

I am currently a 3rd year Illustration student at London Metropolitan University, but I am highly motivated and passionate about art in general. During my studies I mainly focus on character design and children book illustrations. However, I am always up and ready to learn and explore new techniques and skills.

I work a lot with digital illustration but also try to do analogue work as I think it’s important to have a wide range of skills available. With that in mind, I was very happy to be asked to take on a wood engraving workshop with Peter Smith a master painter and printmaker as part of my internship at St Bride Foundation.

A complete novice to wood engraving – I wasn’t sure what to expect. As an illustrator I do a lot of drawing and tend to focus on 2D work so I was a little nervous about using my skills on engraving a piece of wood. Still I was really excited to give it a try because I absolutely loved some of the prints that I’ve seen around the wood engraving workshop. There were six other students attending the workshop and most of them were skilled in wood engraving already as the session was a tutorial for these who already specialise in wood engraving. The foundation also does Tester Days for beginners which is something I might look more into in the future. The fact that I was the only person that has completely no idea how the process works made a little nervous, but Peter took his time with me and explained everything step by step.

He gave me a piece of wood and asked me to draw something simple on it so I decided to draw a rose. After I was done drawing he showed me what tools to use to cut into the wood and how to hold them correctly so that I don’t injure myself as the tools are very sharp.

It took me about two hours to engrave a rose in a small piece of wood. Although the process is quite long and requires a lot of patience I really enjoyed it and it was surprisingly relaxing!

When I was done engraving the flower Peter showed me how to prepare the wood for printing and how to use the printing press. The printing process is quite quick – all you have to do is align the wood with the paper and make sure it’s sturdy.

I was really happy and excited about the print I created – you can judge by yourself. I wasn’t sure if it will come out clear but for my very first time ever using the technique of wood engraving, I think it came out pretty good! 

As I absolutely loved the whole process and outcome of the workshop I decided to visit the Society of Wood Engravers exhibition at the Bankside Gallery on the 9th on February. It was amazing to see so many different prints and now that I know how the process works and how much time and precision it takes to create each piece, the whole experience was even more breath-taking. Peter also introduced me to a few people, one of them being Miriam Macgregor. It was amazing to meet her and see the person behind the beautiful prints exhibited at the gallery.

Engraving tools:

There is a lot to learn about the tools as there is so many different shapes and sizes. If you’re looking to try out wood engraving yourself and want to buy the tools, make sure you do the research and speak to someone that can knows what works and what doesn’t.

The ‘burin’ is the generic term for all engravers’ tools, whether for wood or metal. There are four main kinds of wood engraving tools and each one of them comes in several sizes. The tools are steel and set into a cutting point of about 35 to 40 degrees and set into a wooden handle. The tools are designed in a way that makes it more comfortable to use. The wooden handle is flat at the bottom so that it can be held almost flat with the block when engraving and its mushroom shape allows for an easier and more comfortable grip.

Other materials you will need:

  • Ink
  • Roller
  • Paper
  • Block of wood

The process:

From what I learnt during the one workshop that I attended, the process is time consuming but quite simple. Firstly you need to decide what design you want to put on your block of wood. Next, you can draw on top of your block with pencil to then later on go over it with a black marker. Once you have your design ready, you will need to stain your block of wood with a small layer of ink to make it easier to see where you cut when you begin engraving as the unstained wood will be exposed. Once you have prepared your block you are ready to begin engraving.

When the engraving process is completed you need to prepare the block for printing. You can print by or with the use of a printing press. As I was showed how to do it using the press I need to research more into how to print without one. When you are using the press, you need to align your block and make sure it stays in one place with the use of magnets. The magnets will keep the block from moving when run through the printing press. It is also very important to align the paper to the block for the best results. One that is done you are ready to print!

Details of all workshops at St Bride Foundation (including Wood Engraving, Letterpress and Bookbinding) are available on the website www.sbf.org.uk/whats-on/

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 (naturally) 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 a memorable lark. Elsewhere 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.

Truth Against all the World

On the Thursday morning of the (presumably freezing) fifth of January 1893, sixty compositors turned up for work as usual at the newspaper offices of the Evening Citizen at 24 St Vincent Place, Glasgow (one of the first red sandstone buildings in the city) only to find they had been locked out. A new metal gate was in place and scab labour had been smuggled in the night before and lodged in bunk beds specially fitted in the offices. A piano and crates of beer had also been brought in for their entertainment.

All the locked out men, “many of them old men” were members of the Typographical Society, a trade union founded back in 1817. They were informed that they would only be admitted back into the workplace if they gave up membership of the Society and that the Citizen would from now on only employ non-union labour.

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The Evening Citizen

The compositors were quickly loaned a small printing office at 102 Maxwell Street from which they produced their own newspaper, The Echo (later named The Glasgow Echo). In it, as they pointed out in issue 1, they were able to put their side of the story and refute the “lies” coming from the “nest of rats” at St Vincent Place. On Monday January 9 the men took the free paper out onto the streets and distributed twenty thousand copies which soon found their way all over Britain.

Determinedly radical from the start, issue 2 proposed a new evening paper in support of the labouring people of Scotland. “Time and again expression has been given to the desire that we, the working classes, had a newspaper devoted to the advocacy of our views on the industrial question.” the editor thundered. A limited company was set up and registered at 42 Argyle Street with £16,000 subscribed by ordinary men and women readers. On May 8 the Glasgow Echo became a daily, paid for publication with 150,000 copies printed for that first issue.

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Issue number 1

The last “gratis”, double crown size version of the Glasgow Echo (no. 32) with its mast head slogan, “Truth against all the world” and “guaranteed circulation of 30,000” went out on Friday April 14, 1893 and it is a complete set of this free, rank and file publication that is in the collection of our Library. A rare thing. How it ended up here is unfortunately lost in the mists of time. The single bound volume is accompanied by a hand written letter headed “A Lockout – and what became of it” and signed only by  “I. E. October 1903”.

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It’s mystery donor wrote “In these days, when relations between the L.S.C. (London Society of Compositors) and their employers are somewhat strained over the question of the proper method of working mechanical appliances in newspaper offices it has been suggested that a complete file of the Glasgow Echo, printed by the locked-out compositors in 1893 might furnish some entertaining reading to the members of the St. Bride’s Institute.” (sic) In 1903 the “members” would of course have been training to enter the print trades themselves.

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The paper’s content consisted mainly of reports of meetings in support of the locked out men which took place regularly all over the Glasgow area, reports of other union meetings nationwide, editorials on various subjects including parliamentary debates, letters to the editor (in which one person describes the Echo as “a plucky little sheet”), satirical reports from the pickets outside the Citizen offices (including a gleeful piece on one of the scab  compositors who was jailed for 40 days following a drunken assault on his wife), a would be amusing sketch column, a serialised short story (Ralph Macpherson: A Story of the Clyde, by “Mungo Tinto”) and, come issue 4, the inevitable football and other sports reports began to appear. The back page was taken up by adverts and classified notices. Close to the end of its run saw the introduction of Piscatorial Notes, a column on fishing and fish farming written by “Captain Cuttle”.

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It makes for some rather dry reading today I’m afraid, and with its tiny type a slightly painful one though the editorial in issue 5, January 18 shows how little has changed since 1893 and the current recession. “When all, or nearly all of the material wealth of the country flows into the pockets of the few, need we wonder that among the many there is a scant provision of the necessaries, let alone the comforts of life.”

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The letter writer “I.E.” noted “All the locked-out men had been kept together, and were again reinstated as one companionship, so that everything looked promising and a great triumph for Labour.” Unfortunately he concludes that without advertising and with the “envy and jealousies of your own class” the radical paper “slowly but surely declined” until it was bought, ironically, by Viscount Rothermere, founder of the Daily Mail, “the original stockholders receiving back a first and final dividend of 4 shillings in the pound.” The compositors auld enemy, the Evening Citizen enjoyed a somewhat longer life, folding in 1974.

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St Bride Foundation c. 1903

Thank’s to Bob Richardson of St Bride Library for drawing the Echo to your humble (Scottish) author’s attention. A version of this article was published origionaly in the Hidden Glasgow forums.

Poison Rat

There is only one English painter who’s every new work makes headline news in the mainstream media upon its unveiling. This same English painter’s art is now almost always instantly stolen, covered up or defaced. Last week the press reported that one of his most popular pieces in Bermondsey had been boarded over or removed by the owner of the property on which it was painted, because this English artist does not exhibit (primarily) in galleries but on walls, streets and in public spaces. He is the Bristolian known as Banksy, and one of his works can still (just) be seen within a 20 second walk away from St Bride Foundation.

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If you are enjoying a drink at the top of the steps outside the Old Bell pub on St Bride’s Avenue you may spot a dark smudge on the wall at your feet which at first glance looks like weather and age damage to the stucco. It is in fact the faded remains of Poison Rat, one of a series of illegal pictures using this same stencil template Banksy had placed in various locations in London and Los Angeles around 2005.

The rat is pouring a jug of toxic liquid down the steps leading up from Bride Lane, though more than a decade later the aerosol paint is so faded this is now hard to “read” and some web sites have claimed the piece no longer even exists. The green goo once gushing from the poison jar has been completely erased by time. My photo above dates from 2011.

Within a 20 – 25 minute walking radius of St Bride Foundation two more Banksy rats can still be seen. On the wall of the Mount Pleasant Post Office is a Placard Rat, again dating from around 2005, its original slogan ALWAYS FAIL(E) was lost during the Banksy/King Robbo feud which saw a few of Banksy’s works defaced following a perceived slight to the older London graffiti artist’s work. A few yards across the road from this the daubed over remains of Cash Machine & Girl can still be discerned just off the Roseberry Avenue/Farringdon Road junction.

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The other Placard Rat, still in rather good condition, can be spotted on Chiswell Street near the Barbican. Again the original slogan (London doesn’t work) has been painted out.

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Slightly further afield, about 45 minutes away are the protected remains of two vintage, canine inspired works at the Cargo Club on Rivington Street, Guard Dog and His Master’s Voice. However Guard Dog is currently partly obscured. Both date from the early 2000’s, and my photos here were shot a few years back.

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Banksy, Cargo, Rivington Street London

About 55 minutes away on Essex Road in Islington is another Perspex shielded work which  demonstrates some of the pitfalls local Councils can face when confronting the ol’ “is it art or vandalism” debate. In this case, Very Little Hurts, a large scale piece was deemed to be art worthy of saving and following attacks by Robbo’s crew and others, it was covered by a plastic sheet which unfortunately has itself become so badly vandalised it’s difficult to discern the original picture underneath (photo from 2012).

28 Banksy, Essex Road London

Meanwhile, about 1 hour and 40 minutes away (or up to 2 hours if you take the number 4 bus) two pieces were wiped by the same Islington Council. A1 Road to Anywhere in Archway was removed in 2012 following a single complaint that it was “an eyesore”. Down the road, oppisite Tufnell Park tube, Macanical Flowers (below, photographed in 2011) was also scrubbed. Last time I spotted it in 2o12 some taggers had graffed up the wall beside it  and I assume that the cleaners brought in to blast the tags must have wiped off the early 21st century Banksy piece too, accidently or otherwise.

23 Macanical Flowers, Tufnell Park Road

A protected work could still be spotted at Jeffrey’s Street, Camden until recently, but the Perspex has been removed (its outlined remains can still be seen) and the Banksy painted over. Another protected picture still exists on Clipstone Street and up until last week, The Grange in Bermondsey. However the south London painting dating from 2014 was removed from view last week and may even have been cut from the public space for private sale (the property owner has refused to comment: “Disappearance of Bermondsey Banksy stirs concern for its future” Southwark News 11 February 2016).

Banksy’s last London work, Les Miserables, was visible to the public for barely even a single day (January 24 2016) when the owners of the Knightsbridge building on which it was painted first tried to remove it, (damaging it in the process in front of the world’s press) then covered it up with wooden boards. Vandalism or art, Banksy had made an undeniable cultural impression and there are few street artists working today who could (or would) repudiate his importance. If you want a photo of one of his London pieces though you had better be quick.

” The scene in London at that time was about only one guy that nobody knew who he was – and he was painting like crazy the whole city and the trains I had seen here and there.” Brazilian street artist Nunca, VNA magazine, issue 28

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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.

St Bride Unveiled

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An exhibition showcasing the highlights of the St Bride Foundation collection.

22 July – 25 September // Layton Room // Free entry

Over its 124 year history, St Bride Foundation has acquired an unparalleled library of artefacts and books, which now plays an important role in illustrating the history of print and graphic design, as well as the history of our culture in general.

This summer we are offering an exclusive opportunity to see the highlights of this collection, with items ranging from the Book of the Dead to the typography of 20th Century road signs. The exhibition will run from 22 July until 25 September. Many of the items have not been on public display in the same room before.

Here are a few glimpses of what will be on show:

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The exhibition will also coincide with a pop up book shop, as well as earlier opening times in the bar, allowing you to make the most of your time at this historic venue.

Keep your eyes on our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds over the next two weeks for some more previews of what you will be seeing at St Bride Unveiled this summer.

St Bride Foundation Wayzgoose

The word wayzgoose causes a frown of confusion for many people. Quite often, this facial expression is quickly followed by the question, ‘what’s a wayzgoose?’. For printers, on the other hand, this slightly unorthodox word is a signal to cobble together some money and inspect the diary for availability.

On Sunday, St Bride Foundation held its own wayzgoose. But before we jump into the narrative, let’s appease any remaining frowns of confusion by providing a definition.

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The earliest sense of the word wayzgoose in the OED is ‘an entertainment given by a master-printer to mark the beginning of a new season’. Apparently, these events traditionally took place at Bartholomew tide (around August 29) under candlelight. John Southward writes in his 1875 publication, Dictionary of typography and its accessory arts, that a wayzgoose generally consists of ‘a trip into the country, open air amusements, a good dinner, and speeches and toasts afterwards’.

Later on, the meaning appears to have broadened to simply denote ‘an annual festivity by members of the printing establishment, typically held at summer’.

Yet the use of the word in a couple of other publications includes different details, leading us to doubt that the meaning of wayzgoose has ever been absolutely definitive. Some authors write that it actually took place at the beginning of Winter. Others use the more general term of ‘journey-men’ for those in attendance, rather than strictly ‘printers’. Even the origins of the -goose element carries some mystery, although a popular theory is that the feathered animal was the traditional centerpiece of the festival’s dinner.

Nowadays, the word has a new meaning once more. A wayzgoose remains an annual festivity for printers, but now it’s also a place to buy and sell printing equipment, type, and various other related products of this inky craft.

NB: Our brief definition has now escalated into a linguistic analysis, so for the sake of your attention we shall stop here. After all, we have Sunday’s event to cover.

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At 10:59am, over 30 stalls, manned by various presses, type-foundries and design studios, awaited the rival of their fellow printers through the Foundation’s blue iron doors. Activity on Twitter suggested that it was going to be a busy one; thirty minutes into opening, this forecast proved to be reliable.

The busy halls and stalls didn’t mean that it was a hectic affair though. The general vibe inside actually remained relaxed and pleasant. It was a fitting atmosphere for a sunny Sunday afternoon on Fleet Street, where the streets were ghostly quiet in comparison to the typical mid-week rush. .

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Above: Woodblock Letterpress

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Above: London Centre for the Book Arts // Below: LCC 6×6 Collaborative Letterpress Project

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Above: The Tom Paine Press // Below: The Stumptown Printers (All the way from Portland, Oregon)

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Even though there were cash boxes placed behind these tables, the day wasn’t really orientated around money-making. Rather, it was an opportunity for people to showcase recent work, provide some inspiration, and meet new faces, as well as catch up with the old.

The day was also very much a family event, with people of all ages in attendance. (When someone who is still in compulsory education is helping people on an Adana Press, you come to realise that the future of print is in safe hands).

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Above: A few wayzgoose beer mats printed on the Adana at Roy Caslon’s stand 

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Above: Mark Pavey Letterpress // Below: Woodblock Letterpress

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Above: The Carpathian Type Foundry //  Below: Cleeve Press.

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Above: Typoretum  // Below: Wood Engraving by Zillah Curtis

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Above: Resident artist, Peter S Smith, with daughter, Zillah Curtis // Below: Starch Green

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Along with the two halls, there were also a pop up cafe in the Passmore Edwards room with tea, coffee, and freshly baked cakes. Two floors down from the cafe was the workshop, where people could print some keepsakes and (more crucially) learn how to make a printer’s hat.

Unfortunately, the Foundation’s Fleet Street location prevented us from offering a countryside jaunt as part of the day’s activities. However, the local area’s historic connection with newspapers allowed for a different, more unique element, which was to educate visitors on the production of newspapers.

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To conclude the day, the raffle was drawn. The lucky few have already been notified, but to reassure you that it wasn’t fixed, we have written the winning numbers below..

1st Prize Five Limited Edition Mayhew Prints – (Pink 216-220)
2nd Prize Stanley Donwood Print – (Yellow 111-115)
3rd Prize Chiswick Press Initials – (Pink 206-210)
4th Prize Complete Set of Ultrabold – (Yellow 101-105)
5th Prize Gutenberg’s Apprentice (Hardback) – (Yellow 196-200)

By 4pm, the day was over and the pack-up commenced. The feedback we have received since has been fantastic and it’s still coming in. Whether you bought something, sold something, printed something, or just aimlessly wandered around, we’d like to thank you, as all of the nice words are consequent of your attendance. A big thanks also goes out to the Wayzgoose Committee, who made the whole thing possible.

Until next time?

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Election Typefaces from Stephenson, Blake and Co.

Bob Richardson has been into the St Bride Library archives for a special Election Day blog article. 

ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, in 1915, we were due to have a General Election in the United Kingdom, but the outbreak of the Great War put paid to that. The Parliament Act of 1911 had reduced the length of a Parliament from seven years to five, and the previous election had been in 1910. (In fact there were two elections that year due to a constitutional crisis caused by the rejection of the Budget by the House of Lords, but that’s another story).

As you visit the Polling Station today you may be struck by the rather anachronistic posters which identify those buildings designated as such. Some local authorities have held huge stocks of these paper banners for much of the 20th century, and in some parts of the country those on display today may have been printed many years before you were born. Some modern versions are simply litho-printed copies of posters originally printed, in a handful of cases, before the Second World War.

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The sign outside St Bride Foundation today.

The UK’s main supplier of printed election paraphernalia is Shaw & Sons, established in the City of London in 1750 by Henry Shaw, a native of Nairn. The majority of the Polling Station signs you see today as you cast your vote at a local school, town hall or perhaps even the St Bride Foundation (we are a City of London Polling Station today) were almost certainly printed by the company at their works in Crayford, Kent. The design has changed little in almost a century, retaining the simple sanserif bold condensed face familiar to generations of voters. Originally printed from oversized wood type, they are now produced by lithography. The typeface has changed very slightly over the years, although the differences are sometimes subtle and not immediately apparent.

The print code on some of the older posters indicates that they were produced for General Elections many years ago. The cluster of tiny numbers printed at the foot of the signs, typically “500M/9/55” indicates in this example that half a million copies were produced in September 1955. Check your local signs to see when they were printed – they may be older than you.

Shaw’s have produced many millions of these paper signs over the last century, and continue to do so, but some local authorities are still using stock originally purchased decades ago. There are a mixture of old and new banners decorating the entrances to the 50,000 Polling Stations around the UK today. You can read more about the history of Shaw’s at www.electionsupplies.co.uk

Of course the St Bride Library holds a number of items relating to Shaws, including a commemorative booklet issued in 1950 to mark 200 years of trading, and a collection of 25 proof sheets showing some of the more exotic letterpress faces available a century ago.

General and local elections have always been important sources of revenue to the printing trade. The production of ballot papers, posters and candidate publicity material kept local and national printing businesses busy for many months in the run-up to polling day. That remains the case today.

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Here at St Bride we hold a small amount of psephology (election science) related material, including a poster from Stephenson Blake, who recommended the use of certain typefaces for election printing in the late 19th century. The pre-point-size names used to identify each face suggests that the poster may have been produced for the election in 1895 or perhaps even earlier.

SB&Co Election Faces (1)

Whether the typeface recommendations were based upon anything other than legibility is open to question. Stephenson Blake were experts in marketing their wares, but were also known to publicise faces which were held in large quantities, or even downright unpopular (such as Francesca Ronde, based upon the handwriting of Lady Frances Stephenson) in an effort to move overstocks. Francesca Ronde was something of a vanity project, and sales staff were instructed to “push” sales of this face, but printers didn’t like it and it remained firmly on the shelf in Sheffield. It certainly wouldn’t have been much use for election material but apparently Four Lines Antique No. 3 (a bold slab-serif face) was just the ticket, as was Double Pica No. 13.

SB&Co Election Faces (2)

The choice of typeface for election material is perhaps rather more significant than we generally assume. The use of the Gotham typeface in Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign is generally acknowledged as one of many factors which contributed to his eventual success. Inspired by lettering on the Port Authority Bus Terminal on New York’s Eighth Avenue, Gotham has now become ubiquitous. The graphic designer Brian Collins described the use of the face as the “linchpin” of Barack Obama’s campaign imagery. I wonder if Mr Gladstone ascribed his successful 1880 campaign to the clever use of Double Pica No. 13? I suspect not.