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.

Printing Abroad

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Did you know that the French once printed 60 million copies of the Radio Times? During the 1950s, while our British compositors were partaking in a strike, we decided to send the work over the channel. The magazine was produced in Paris from 20th January until the 28th March 1956;below is the last one printed across the Channel.

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This fiasco would not have made Radio Times fans back in the day particularly happy. To go from a 64-page magazine to a broadsheet – and still pay the same three pence – must have seemed quite the rip off. That said, buying a publication that had racked up that many air miles had to cost something!

Over the Moon with his discovery

Dr William Moon was born with a sense of sight; however, at an early age he lost the ability to see out of one eye and, by 21, was completely blind.

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Determined not to let this faze him, Moon began to teach blind children how to read using existing embossed reading codes. None of the systems Moon used or taught were particularly user-friendly, so he set about creating a simple system that anyone would easily be able to pick up: Moon type, which was based on a simplified form of the Latin alphabet.

While Moon devised the type in 1843, it wasn’t until 1845 that it was published. These typefaces would have been printed in a different way to your standard letterpress print. Instead of the type being loaded into the press backwards and printed onto the front of the sheet, the type for Moon would be arranged in reading order, and printed onto the back, to create a negative. Soft paper was put behind the substrate to allow the pattern to be embossed.

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When William Moon died in 1894, his daughter continued to promote Moon type, while his body of work was later donated to the National Institute of the Blind.

Although Braille is now the more widely known font for blind reading, Moon type still serves a purpose, as individuals that struggle with Braille can easily switch to Moon.

I don’t incline, to take you for my bawling Valentine

Valentine’s Day tends to split opinions; you either love it, or think it is such a waste of time that anyone who takes part in it is wasting oxygen. Obviously, here at St Bride Foundation we are impartial, but recently, these naughty little cards have come out of the woodwork…

If you were to receive a card or a gift, you would be correct in thinking that someone has a crush on you, right? If we were in the late 1800s, this would not necessarily be the case. Alongside our collection of neatly embroidered, lace-fringed labours of love are the ‘anti-Valentine’s’, a get out of jail free card, just in case your feelings didn’t match those of the unlucky romantic who sent you a card in the first place.

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‘You gouty old fool, do you think I would wed, with a creature who scarcely can crawl from his bed?’

‘Then beast, don’t think I’d ever pine, to be an hypocrite’s Valentine’

Having the pleasure of opening one of these after pouring your heart into a Valentine’s card clearly wouldn’t be the happiest moment of your life but, thankfully, social etiquette has evolved slightly since then.

Finally, if you happen to receive one of these, do not blame us. On the flip side, if it has given you an idea, then Happy Valentine’s!

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Printing Plates

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When we think of printing, paper is often the material that comes to mind as the substrate of choice. Unsurprisingly, the semi-mystical Room 19 holds the key to lots of non-paper based printing; today’s example is crockery.

Tucked in between the Hyde Park’s Japanese Village posters and invitations to a Wayzgoose, it is possible to find a folder full of ceramic transfer tissues, which print the ‘Malvern’ design onto your crockery, even if we don’t know how St Bride acquired the items.

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The designs would have been printed onto the tissue paper via an engraved copper plate and would then be ready to print onto any dampened biscuitware (crockery fired once in a kiln). The tissue would be placed in the correct position, smoothed over with a wet sponge, and fired for a second time to remove the tissue paper. The final result might leave you feeling a bit colour blind; the ink was mixed with minerals so the colours would become more vivid after firing.

Transfer printing is still used in the ceramics industry, but the images are produced using modern technologies, including photographic processes, which were probably not available when the ‘Malvern’ pattern was introduced. Instead of using copper plates to produce the transfers, computers are used to create the artwork and then conventional printing processes to produce the finished item.

Large numbers of original copper plates, engraved for the decoration of crockery, still exist and could, potentially, be used to revive classic designs if there was a market for them. We do not hold any of the printing plates at St Bride, only a handful of transfer tissues.

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.

The Watermark

In a very generous donation made to St Bride Library recently we received a large collection of paper, kindly donated by a paper merchant, which included a selection of watermarked sheets that really are something quite special.

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The watermark was first invented in 1282 and saw little change until 1826, when industrialisation revolutionised the mark. The first watermarks would have been fairly simple processes, pressed into the paper while it still took the form of pulp, or slurry, while the pieces donated to us would have been made using a process invented in 1848: the cylinder mould process. In this process a wax panel would be used to create a metal mould, which would be incorporated into a heated steel roller and the paper would be passed through it.

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Unsurprisingly, because of the higher quality results gained from using the cylinder mould process, this became the preferred method for anti-counterfeiting measures on all sorts of legal documents. We’re exceptionally lucky to have been granted such excellent examples of the technique – and a window into the history of the watermark – here at St Bride.

The Myth of Cunard

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Mr Eric Gill was commissioned to design Cunard – or Jubilee – typeface in 1934 by the Sheffield based Stevenson Blake Type Foundry. The story surrounding this typeface is that the Cunard Shipping Line was the intended user of this font. However we have it on highest authority that this is a no more than a rumour, much like Elvis still being alive. Still, the name selection does seem slightly peculia.

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Since its creation, the font hasn’t really added much value to the foundry and seemed to disappear shortly after World War II. It has become influential again recently, with the font currently available digitally on myfonts.com. We quite like the font here at St Bride Foundation and it is a shame to have seen it shelved and unused for so long.z

Making Faces

We all know that Bonfire night is overrated. Never mind, we have a far better – and warmer – alternative for your pleasure on 5th November.

Join us for a night of calligraphy, hand-lettering and letterpress demonstrations, from a range of very skilled practitioners. Along with these demonstrations we shall be showing Richard Kegler’s ‘Making Faces’ documentary. In 2008, Richard Kegler’s type foundry, P22, commissioned Jim Rimmer to create a new type design, RTF Stern, that became the first ever simultaneous release of a digital font and hand-set metal font.

The film provides an insight into not just the time and effort spent on the making of RTF Stern, but a look at the personality of the man himself.

If our other events are anything to go by, this is not an event to be missed. For more information click here, and here for the ‘Making Faces‘ blog.