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!

Monday Morning Chaos

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Is the alphabet just too uniform for you? Are you a fan of something a bit more bespoke? As per usual, our mystical Room 19 can cater for you.

An American by the name of John Franklin Earhart created Chaostype – a patterned print effect made from molten type metal.

The alloy, a combination of lead, antimony and tin, would is poured into a slightly damp tray. As the hot alloy hits the surface water, it evaporates. The air bubbles rise to the surface, leaving unique organic patterns in the alloy, which are left to solidify.

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Once in a solid state, the alloy – complete with the ‘Crunchie honeycomb effect’ – would be cut into strips and often used for borders.

Earhart patented the process, however, it was also used by certain British ‘Art’ painters, such as Raithby-Lawrence of Leicester.

The Procession of Animals

Free tickets to events are usually a treat, so it is no surprise that these 18th and 19th century prints were snapped up, purchased on the cheap and were considered the historical equivalent of a VIP Beyoncé ticket. Unfortunately for any happy punters that paid for these tickets, all they bought was a piece of paper and a lie on 1st April. There were, however, a couple of smaller giveaways on the tickets, so we shouldn’t feel too sorry for anyone who might have been conned by this trick.

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‘The Procession of Animals’, to be fair, does sound like a fun day out – after all, seeing the penguins at the Zoo is not one to turn down. This ticket wasn’t noticeably outrageous, apart from the secretary’s name – ‘J C Wildboar’ – who could very easily been someone destined to work with animals.

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Our second ticket of non-legitimate origins is one that allows the holder entry to Crystal Palace and the gardens. Another nice day out, in the grand scheme of things – shame it was another scam. The main clue on this piece is the name of the secretary – ‘A. Nidiot’ – a fairly obvious giveaway. For any eagle-eyed detectives out there, entrance to the palace is through the ‘Egress Gate’; I don’t think entering through the exit would be particularly easy.

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Ticket number three, if real, would have granted you passage on a boat trip to the Nore sand bank and back. Sounds like a peaceful day out, but this is another obvious trick. The captain, ‘Samuel Asinus’ [Latin for ‘Ass’], probably wasn’t capable of sailing a rubber dingy; as the steamer itself, if you believed that it existed, you might have been more than a little bit gullible.

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One thing you don’t want to pawn

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The Game and Playe of Chesse by William Caxton was one of the first books to be printed from moveable type in English. Printed at Westminster in the 1470s, if you had an original edition, then you would be the owner of a priceless print artefact.

Unfortunately St Bride Foundation doesn’t own an original copy of this book, but it does have the next best thing.

In 1855, in an effort to raise money for a printing charity, Vincent Figgins, the owner of a very successful London based type foundry, decided to produce facsimiles of Caxton’s ‘Chesse’. This necessitated the cutting of punches similar to the original typeface used by Caxton nearly 400 years previous.

No stone was left unturned for the project; the Figgins edition of the book utilised 23 woodcuts, and even the paper was specifically milled to be as close as possible match to Caxton’s original, made nearly 400 years earlier.

Even after all of this, Figgins wasn’t entirely happy with his creation. He wrote: “Could I have had a copy of the original alongside me during my progress, I should have succeeded more to my own satisfaction.”

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Figgins’ facsimile would have set you back two guineas, with the luxury edition (bound in calf leather with silver clasps) a mere three guineas. All the profits from the sales went to the Printers’ Almshouses charity.

The finest Columbian Black

This year sees the 50th anniversary of The Beatles crossing the pond to have a crack at America. 150 years before that, Mr George Clymer did the opposite journey – and brought a game-changing invention along for the ride.

While very similar to its rivals Albion and Stanhope, in that it could only print one page of type at a time, the Columbian printing press’s light touch gave it an edge over its competitors.

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Not only adding an impressive visual element, the eagle positioned on the top of the press acts as a counter balance system, with far less effort required to operate.

Here at St Bride Foundation we have two machinces: one of which is still frequently used in the workshops. To coincide with the press’s 200th birthday, a special book is being published, including the testimonials from the original promotional material!

New letter-press and bookbinding course from St Bride and City Lit – we spoil you!

Adding to our extensive range of print courses, we are proud to announce a two-day course titled ‘Bookbinding: typeset, printed, bound’, which will be run in collaboration with City Lit.

On day one you will be in the print room here at St Bride Foundation, learning letter-press and setting and printing a page of type. The second day sees you heading across to City Lit’s bookbinding studio to learn how to bind the pages you printed into a single section with a hard cover.

There is no need for previous experience to take part in the course. The course code for the 4th and 12th of December 2013 is VD269 and for the 5th and 12th December 2013 is VD 270.

The rest of the year at St Bride Foundation

With the weather closing in and the nights getting longer, it is probably a good thing that the rest of the year here at St Bride Foundation is jam packed with theatre, workshops, library events, and everything else that goes on here!

A-Ladd-in-the-City – London themed pantomime – visits the Bridewell for a set of Lunchbox Theatre performances. We can only imagine that the usual boos, hisses and “He’s behind you!” will be in abundance and that, surely, Aladdin will eventually save the day in true panto style. He will be winning the heart of our heroine from November 26th to December 13th, with the exception of weekends and Mondays, as nobody likes the first day of the week!

‘The Print Knowledge’ is an exciting new addition to our comprehensive selection of print workshops. This one-day course will take you all the way from the beginnings of print, to the future of this method of communication. Our print experts Bob Richardson and Mick Clayton will join Alan Springett, Senior Lecturer of Print Media, as guides on your journey through the print world. Places on the course are limited to six and you can book here.

For those who wish to forget the ever-darkening evenings, there is a range of different shows taking place at the theatre, including ‘The Winterling‘, ‘High Society‘ and ‘Hot Mikado‘. To conclude the year, ‘Goodnight Mr Tom‘ will be running from December 17th to 21st.

St Bride Foundation also hosts weddings for all sizes and tastes. If you’re looking for that special place to tie the knot, why not bear us in mind? Click here for more information.

Are you Shaw this isn’t the next big thing?

The case of Shavian we have here at the St Bride Foundation.

The case of Shavian we have here at the St Bride Foundation.

This week we delve into the realms of Shavian Script. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry – it’s certainly one of the wackier fonts out there.

Shavian Script was a typeface created by George Bernard Shaw, who had the intention of reformatting the way we write. Irishman Shaw believed the English language to be inefficient, mainly due to the inconsistency of pronunciation of certain runs of letters. For example, ‘ough’ occurs in ‘cough’, ‘though’ and ‘bought’, but is pronounced differently for each. In order to correct the representation of these sounds within the written format of the language, Shaw looked to create his own typeface, based on similar shorthand styles, such as that developed by his friend Henry Sweet – Sweet Shorthand – upon whom the My Fair Lady character was allegedly based.

Eventually, Shavian Script came to fruition. It had 40 characters with no separate upper or lower case; unusually, it was produced in 13pt, unlike the 8, 10 and 12pt sizes that are typically produced used. As though creating your own typeface and converting the population of a country to its use weren’t mad enough, Shaw called his script the ‘Proposed British Alphabet’, restyling our conventional 26-character attempt as ‘Dr Johnson’s Alphabet’!

In his will Shaw left £100,000 – £367,000 in modern money – to its development and implementation. Sadly for him, though, his legacy didn’t quite go according to plan: the Public Trustee ruled that the establishment of Shavian was not ‘charitable’, and so granted only £8,600 to its development. The remainder of the money was split between the British Museum, RADA and the National Gallery of Ireland, the designated beneficiaries in the event of Shavian not setting the world on fire.

It didn’t, perhaps unsurprisingly. Shaw’s plays are the main element of his body of work that live on but Quikscript, or Second Shaw, is an alternative English alphabet which borrows heavily from Shavian.

There were three known cases of the typeface to be cast; the British Library has one, and so does Stephen Austin and Sons, which printed the only Shavian book to date, a 1962 edition of Androcles and the Lion. The third, of course, is here in the archive of St Bride Foundation – if you’d like to have a look at this particularly rare piece, make sure you ask on one of our guided tours.

Some Shavian Script from Androcles and the Lion